Looking way ahead: who is in the Pirates playoff rotation?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – After watching Francisco Liriano‘s masterful outing last night, assuming the Pirates play in a postseason series, you’d have to think he slots in as the No.1 or No. 2 starter in Clint Hurdle‘s playoff rotation.

 

Liriano misses bats, induces groundballs and has cut his walk rate. Ditto for A.J. Burnett, who is option 1 or 1a for a potential Pirates playoff rotation.

 

But who do you slot in at No. 3 and No. 4?

 

Continue reading Looking way ahead: who is in the Pirates playoff rotation?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About last night …

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Last night was something of an instruction manual in how not to close out a baseball game.

 

Starling Marte is fortunate his drop didn’t occur in October. Mistakes happen. We’re human. … But yikes. (Two hands on the wheel, everyone).

 

Many criticized Clint Hurdle‘s decision in real-time on Twitter to allow the right-handed Bryan Morris to face left-handed Matt Adams in a key situation in the eighth. Adams can really hit, and he smashed a liner to right that appeared to be headed for status as an RBI hit. It was only the perfect defensive positioning of Neil Walker that prevented that decision from blowing up. Where was Tony Watson many wondered?

 

Continue reading About last night …

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Andrew Lambo gets the call. What took so long? And what can we expect?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – I can hear the collective calls echoing in the South Hills today. The chorus goes something like this: “It’s about time.”

 

Many of you have wanted to see Andrew Lambo on the Pirates’ roster. Many have wanted to see someone, anyone, other than who the Pirates have played in right field this season. The Pirates right fielders have combined to produce a .662 OPS this season, which ranks ahead of only lowly Houston in baseball.

 

Well, he’s arrived. The club announced today that Lambo will be called up Tuesday for the St. Louis series. (The Pirates have not announced a corresponding roster move, that is expected to come Tuesday.)

Continue reading Andrew Lambo gets the call. What took so long? And what can we expect?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: the Coors hangover and previewing the Cardinals series

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – In previewing the Pirates-Rockies series last week I wrote that it was going to be interesting to see how the Pirates’ run-prevention ability translated to the thin air of Coors Field, where humidor or no humidor, it’s still an environment that promotes offense.

 

The Pirates’ brand of low-scoring baseball not translate well.

 

Francisco Liriano had never pitched in Coors Field and I doubt he has any interest in returning soon. A.J. Burnett was also rocked in the high altitude and Jeff Locke continue to walk batters at too high of a rate, again testing his magical ability to strand runners at an MLB-best rate.

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: the Coors hangover and previewing the Cardinals series

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The other hidden talent of Russell Martin: magic…and Charles in charge?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Russell Martin has added significant value to the Pirates this season. Some of the value is obvious like his strong, accurate throwing arm, his athleticism, and his above average bat for the position.

 

But some of his value is obscured and difficult to measure  like his ability to frame and sequence pitches, which we wrote about back in June.

 

And Martin offers even more hidden value as he demonstrated in yesterday’s walk-off in a series sweep over the Marlins.

Continue reading The other hidden talent of Russell Martin: magic…and Charles in charge?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Inside MVP favorite Andrew McCutchen’s MVP-caliber play … and why Monday was a good day for baseball

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

PNC PARK – Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen entered Tuesday as the MVP favorite in the National League, according to oddsmaker Bovada.com. And who is to argue with Bovada.com? Bovada gives McCutchen 5/7 odds to win the award, with Joey Votto 3/2, Paul Goldschmidt (5/1) and Carlos Gomez (15/1) also in the running.

 

McCutchen looked very much again like an MVP in the Pirates’ 4-3 win over the Marlins on Tuesday.

 

McCutchen went 2-for-3 with a key two-run double in the second and then made perhaps a game-saving play with two on and one out in the seventh when he fully extended to rob Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria of a run-scoring hit in the left-center gap.

 

Continue reading Inside MVP favorite Andrew McCutchen’s MVP-caliber play … and why Monday was a good day for baseball

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Monday Morning Mop-up Duty: the price of keeping A.J. Burnett

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

PNC PARK – Clint Hurdle said A.J. Burnett‘s complete game victory Sunday was the best game Burnett has pitched all season. No argument here. The one quibble you could have with Burnett this season is efficiency and he was efficient Sunday.

 

Burnett has only five wins, but he’s having perhaps the best season of his career. Burnett and Francisco Liriano are each pitching like aces, and Hurdle could have an interesting decision to make about who he wants as his No. 1 starter this postseason. IF there’s a postseason.

 

Here’s the other interesting future-related question regarding Burnett: could he be the Opening Day starter in 2014? Will he stick around?

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-up Duty: the price of keeping A.J. Burnett

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Gerrit Cole will be pitching in October … maybe

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

PNC PARK – Gerrit Cole neared reaching an interesting threshold Friday night. He completed his 129th inning of the season, if you combine Triple-A and MLB innings.

 

Why does that matter? It matters because he threw 132 innings last season across three levels of professional baseball, 150 if you count his 18 innings in instructional league.

 

It matters because some teams have become very careful in handling young pitchers. The Nationals most famously shut down Stephen Strasburg last season after he reached 160 innings — while in the middle of pennant race. The Nationals assumed they’d be right back in postseason contention this season. Whoops.

 

Continue reading Gerrit Cole will be pitching in October … maybe

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Were the Pirates winners or losers at the deadline? What would count as an “insane” offer for Giancarlo Stanton?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – So the Pirates did nothing at the trade deadline. All that fuss for nothing. Fewer newspaper to sell. Sigh.

 

National writers immediately came out with deadline grades last evening, documenting who they felt were the winners or losers at the non-waiver trade deadline.

 

Like Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, the consensus,  nationally, was the Pirates missed an opportunity despite the tight market. The acquisition of Robert Andino just didn’t move the needle.

 

Continue reading Were the Pirates winners or losers at the deadline? What would count as an “insane” offer for Giancarlo Stanton?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail