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How the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates survived into the postseason

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Veteran additions helped Pittsburgh qualify for the playoffs for the third straight season.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With a 13-7 win over the Colorado Rockies on September 23, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched their third-consecutive postseason appearance. The Pirates went on to finish the season at 98-64, their best record since Barry Bonds led them to the same mark in 1991. Pittsburgh largely leaned on the formula that got them to October in each of the last two seasons, but made some key additions that helped them to the second-best record in baseball. Here's a look at the Pirates' 2015 season:

Two key offseason additions bolster the roster

Pittsburgh mostly maintained its 2014 roster in the offseason, but made two important additions. The first was veteran lefty Francisco Liriano, who signed a three-year, $39 million deal and had a strong 2015, with a 3.38 ERA and 3.19 FIP in 186⅔ innings. The Pirates also added South Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang on a four-year, $11 million deal and a $5 million posting fee. Kang hit .287/.355/.461 with 15 home runs in 126 games before a knee injury in mid-September ended his season.

Gerrit Cole emerges as an ace

In his second full season with the Pirates, 24-year-old right-hander Gerrit Cole took the mantle as Pittsburgh's ace and earned his first All-Star appearance. In 208 innings in 2015, Cole posted a 2.60 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, walking 44 and striking out 202. Pittsburgh was 23-9 in Cole's 32 starts this season and manager Clint Hurdle will give him the ball for Wednesday's Wild Card game.

Reinforcements arrive at the trade deadline

Though the Pirates did not make any major moves at the trade deadline, they did add several key players for the stretch run. Veterans Aramis Ramirez and Mike Morse provided some much-needed power from the right side, with 25 extra-base hits in 265 at bats with Pittsburgh. The most important addition was likely reliever Joakim Soria, who posted a 2.03 ERA in 29 appearances for the Pirates after coming from Detroit in a trade for prospect JaCoby Jones.