Why Gerrit Cole is still pitching: the Pirates used their eyes not an arbitrary number, plus Starling Marte as Billy Hamilton, and what A.J. Burnett said

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ST. LOUIS –  You might be familiar with the Verducci Effect, a theory by preeminent Sports Illustrated scribe Tom Verducci that supposes young pitchers (25 and under) are more susceptible to injury when  their workloads increase by 30 innings or more over a previous season.

 

The theory is imperfect. It’s rudimentary science as it’s built around arbitrary lines. And it’s been disproved to a degree. (Tom, I’m still a huge fan).

 

We really don’t know much about why pitchers get hurt. But what Verducci gets right is this: too much taxing on young arms can lead to injury. There’s acute injury, where one pitch thrown incorrectly leads to a ligament snapping, and there’s wear-and-tear injuries. I watched Matt Harvey once throw 157 pitches vs. Clemson while he was at North Carolina. When Dylan Bundy‘s ligament snapped I received a text from an Orioles official who noted  Bundy once threw 293 pitches during a four-day stretch in high school.

Continue reading Why Gerrit Cole is still pitching: the Pirates used their eyes not an arbitrary number, plus Starling Marte as Billy Hamilton, and what A.J. Burnett said

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Five things in the Pirates’ favor and five things working against them in Game 5

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ABOARD A SOUTHWEST FLIGHT TO ST. LOUIS – Playing an elimination Game 5 against a rival ace on the road isn’t ideal. But, hey, the Pirates are here and they have a shot. That’s pretty amazing, big picture. Think back to your February expectations.

 

They’ve been one game better than the Cardinals in their head-to-head match-up this season (12-11) and the moment has never been too big for Gerrit Cole. All is not lost just yet.

 

The following is a look at five things working in the Pirates’ favor and five things working against them Thursday night in St. Louis.

 

Continue reading Five things in the Pirates’ favor and five things working against them in Game 5

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Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: changing up in Game 4

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – I really liked the Game 3 match-up for the Pirates. Who didn’t? Francisco Liriano vs. a newbie in Kelly. But I can’t say the same about Game 4 today.  Sorry, North Shore.

 

There’s a simple reason I think the Cardinals have an advantage this afternoon even with a rookie starter who was pitching for Texas A & M some 16 months ago. It’s about one pitch: The changeup.

 

Michael Wacha, as you might have read here this morning, throws a filthy change-up. The Cardinals grade it was the best in their system and it’s one of the best in the game. It plays up because he throws a 92-98 mph fastball with downhill plane.

 

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: changing up in Game 4

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Do you believe in momentum? And the Pirates’ 2013 secret to success is in jeopardy

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ST. LOUIS AIRPORT – I don’t believe in momentum.

 

I do believe in your next day’s starting pitcher.

 

Friday was a make-or-break day for the Pirates: at stake was an 0-2 hole or gaining home-field advantage in the NLDS. What more can you say about Gerrit Cole? The kid delivered again on the biggest stage of his life and in the most meaningful game he has pitched in since leading UCLA over TCU in an elimination game in the 2010 College World Series. You’re right, Clint Hurdle. Cole does wear “big-boy” pants.

Continue reading Do you believe in momentum? And the Pirates’ 2013 secret to success is in jeopardy

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Trouble with the Curve: Marlon Byrd’s trip to Mexico and the Pirates vs. Wainwright…. And what to make of the Pirates’ ‘cluster luck?’

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ST. LOUIS – Marlon Byrd did a thing few veteran players do last offseason: he took a trip to Mexico.

 

No he wasn’t going to a sea-side resort in Cancun, or to enjoy street taco tour along the Pacific coast. No, Byrd, in need of a major league job,  went to play baseball for Cuilacan in the Mexican Pacific League League, which is akin to Triple-A baseball with fewer amenities.

 

Byrd said he was looking for a place to get reps and work on his new swing mechanics. But Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Byrd was in search of something in particular.

 

Continue reading Trouble with the Curve: Marlon Byrd’s trip to Mexico and the Pirates vs. Wainwright…. And what to make of the Pirates’ ‘cluster luck?’

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The Sound and the Fury that was PNC Park … and projecting the NLDS rotations

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AT 30,000 FEET, ON LITTLE SLEEP, EN ROUTE TO ST. LOUIS – I heard similar thoughts and expressions last night from a host of different people, from different walks of life, who shared one common experience: they had attended a number of major league baseball games.

 

What they said: “I’ve never heard anything like it.”

 

Russell Martin and A.J. Burnett had played in postseason games in New York. They said they had never heard anything like it.

Continue reading The Sound and the Fury that was PNC Park … and projecting the NLDS rotations

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Pre-game blog: Three things that could make the difference tonight

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PNC PARK – When I walked into the visitor’s clubhouse in Cincinnati following the Pirates’ six home run outburst Saturday that clinched home field in tonight’s wild card game, Stone Temple Pilot’s “Dead and Bloated” was blaring through the clubhouse stereo system. I smiled at the irony.

 

The track was from STP’s album “Core” which was released in 1992. The last time the Pirates hosted a playoff game was Oct. 11, 1992. The Pirates host the first playoff game in the history of PNC Park tonight.

 

STP has endured – they’re still playing concerts – and so to has the Pirates’ fan base which produced a PNC Park record 21 sellouts this season and will produce another for tonight’s game, a crowd that will be energized and should provide a significant home-field advantage. Will this be the last home playoff game of 2013? The following are three keys that might determine whether the Pirates advance to the NLDS:

Continue reading Pre-game blog: Three things that could make the difference tonight

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