During the regular season we do weekly playoff odds updates, and they always come with a disclaimer that they’re only projections, and a lot of things can change. That is even more the case early in the season. So as you could imagine, a projection in late-December is pretty much just for the fun of things, with a big disclaimer that a lot can change.
With that said, FanGraphs has the Pirates doing well in their projected 2015 standings. The Pirates are finishing with a projected 86-76 record, one game behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, and hosting either the San Francisco Giants or the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card game, with both teams tied at 83 wins. So I guess if these projections do play out, the good news is that the Giants would be using Madison Bumgarner in the tiebreaker, rather than the Wild Card game.
I’m not sure that it would take just 87 wins for the Central, although I’m not ruling it out. The division will be a lot tougher this year with the Cubs getting stronger. However, the Reds are getting weaker, and the Brewers seem to be stuck in neutral and eventually trending down. It took 90 wins for the Central last year, and I could see a stronger Cubs team chipping away at that total. Still, I think it would be a safe bet to shoot for at least 90 wins in order to have a shot at the division.
Right now the projections have the Pirates contending for the division, and in great position for a playoff spot. At this point it doesn’t seem like they will be adding more players, so it will be up to some of the wild cards on the roster to bridge that gap.