Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the average pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of May. The rankings include every pitcher who made at least four starts for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility. The Game Score listed is the average of all of their Game Scores for the month.
*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.
Pitcher of the Month
For the second month in a row, Kris Johnson has won the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month award. Johnson had a huge month of July, with a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings, along with a 17:5 K/BB ratio. He made four starts this month, going six or more innings each time, with three of those starts going seven innings. He gave up just three earned runs total in those starts.
Johnson was the Pitcher of the Month last month, and since the start of June he has combined for a 1.34 ERA in 60.1 innings, with a 38:12 K/BB ratio. Including his first start in the month of August, Johnson’s last ten starts have been quality starts. He has gone six or more innings, with three or fewer runs each time out. The more impressive thing is that only one of those starts saw him give up three runs, and that was a seven inning outing. He has pitched into the seventh inning in eight of those ten starts.
Johnson could be an option for the Pirates in the major league rotation this year if help is needed. He is currently behind Brandon Cumpton on the depth charts, and he’s probably behind Stolmy Pimentel since Pimentel is on the 40-man roster. We’ve certainly seen the Pirates suffer plenty of injuries to the rotation this year, so it’s not out of the question that they would need three additional starters by the end of the year. You hope that the rotation stays healthy, and if that happens, Johnson would still have a path to the majors. He currently profiles as the third best left-handed reliever, and could be added to the 40-man roster and called up in September as the third lefty in the bullpen.
The Other Candidates
Tyler Glasnow had a big month of July, putting up a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings, with a 30:11 K/BB ratio. Glasnow is always near the top of this list, but either falls short to someone who had a better month, or has similar numbers as someone at a higher and more difficult level, or both.
Stolmy Pimentel had the top start in two of the four weeks this month, combining for a 1.99 ERA in 40.2 innings, with a 24:6 K/BB ratio. Pimentel probably would have been the Pitcher of the Month if it wasn’t for his start on July 7th where he gave up four earned runs in six innings. He could be an option for the Pirates in the rotation in the final two months of the year.
Joely Rodriguez has been putting up strong numbers all year, and continued that in July. He had a 1.54 ERA in 35 innings, with a 23:10 K/BB ratio. He had great numbers in West Virginia, and doesn’t seem to be letting up in Bradenton.
Clay Holmes struggled early in the 2013 season, but has been turning things around lately. In the month of July he had a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings, with a 24:11 K/BB ratio. The biggest thing there is the lack of walks, as Holmes has struggled throughout the year with his control, but seems to be improving in that area.