At 36-38, the Pittsburgh Pirates are only a half game out of a Wild Card spot. While there's a long way to go before the Pirates would officially be playoff bound, many in Pittsburgh's organization think this year could be special.

That includes owner Bob Nutting, who has been reluctant to spend without the team in a winning position. With the Pirates beginning to show signs of life on the diamond, Nutting is more willing to open up the check book and make the moves necessary to succeed, via Noah Miles of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I think we've shown it's attainable,” Nutting said. “I think you look at the results we've had from the mound, the pitching has been solid. We have some very strong pitchers performing well. Obviously, we need more offense. We're a bottom-performing team in offensive production. You all know that as much as I do. We're fully aware of that.”

“We know the areas that need to improve,” Nutting continued. “Some of that has to come from organic improvement from our players now. Has to. You've seen a couple bounce backs. We know that is true. How much of it comes from within the organization and outside the organization is exactly what Ben [Cherington] is working on.”

Nutting hit the nail on the head when he said the Pirates' strength has been their pitching. Pittsburgh ranks 14th in ERA with a 3.91 mark. In turn, the Pirates sit 22nd in the league with 299 runs scored. If Pittsburgh is going to make some noise – at least with how the roster is currently constructed – they are more likely to be led by their pitching.

Especially with the amount of young talent that has reached the majors. Rookie Paul Skenes has taken the league by storm, holding a 4-0 record with a 2.29 ERA and a 53/7 K/BB ratio. But Mitch Keller is right behind him with a 3.11 ERA and an 85/24 K/BB ratio. Bailey Falter holds a 3.74 ERA and a 52/21 record while fellow star rookie Jared Jones has put up a 3.76 ERA and a 85/22 K/BB ratio.

Point is that while it's not perfect, the Pirates are flush when it comes to pitching. They'll rely on players like Skenes and Jones to help carry the load. If Pittsburgh were to make a move at the trade deadline, it seems more likely that they would add onto their offense.

What Pirates need to be playoff contender 

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Paul Skenes (30) throws to first base to retire Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (not pictured) to end the sixth inning at PNC Park.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Alongside their low run scoring total, Pittsburgh has looked anemic across the board when it comes to offense. The Pirates rank 23rd in home runs (68) and 25th in batting average (.230). Their 707 strikeouts are the fourth-most in the league. Ultimately, and to Nutting's point, while outside reinforcements will help, the Pirates need more output from players already in the lineup.

Bryan Reynolds leads the team with a .276 batting average. No other player is batting over .250 in Pittsburgh. However, the outfielder has hit just 10 home runs and drove in 40 runs. But with the Pirates, he leads the franchise in both. Only veteran Andrew McCutchen has matched Reynolds' 10 long balls.

Oneil Cruz is batting just .246 with nine home runs, 30 RBI and five steals. Ke'Bryan Hayes is at .238 with three home runs, 17 RBI and five steals. Jack  Suwinski, who had 26 home runs in 2023, has hit just six and carries a putrid .174 batting average.

To make their playoff push complete, Pittsburgh might have to look outside of the organization. It's an idea Bob Nutting is coming around on. But the Pirates must prove they have what it takes to stay in the playoff hunt. And that starts with major improvements offensively.