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 August and the first few days of September. 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
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a lot of strong performances from pitchers in the final month of the season. Top prospects like Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon, and Tyler Glasnow all put up strong performances. A lot of the guys in West Virginia and Jamestown put up dominant numbers in August and September. So this month was one of the most difficult to choose a Pitcher of the Month.
Jason Creasy posted a 1.59 ERA in 34 innings during that time stretch. He also had a 31:4 K/BB ratio. His strikeouts are tied for fourth in the system since the start of August, and he had the second best ERA of players with 25+ innings during that span. For that reason, Jason Creasy is the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month for August.
Creasy started the year in the West Virginia bullpen, pitching multiple innings. He moved to the rotation mid-season, and put up some great numbers in the second half. Creasy had a 2.42 ERA in 13 starts, with a 55:17 K/BB ratio. Creasy was hitting 94 MPH out of the bullpen with his two-seam fastball, but was 89-92 as a starter. He added a slider at the end of last season, which has led to more ground balls and more strikeouts. Last year without the slider he had a 4.8 K/9 ratio in 54.1 innings and had an 0.91 GO/AO ratio. This year he had an 8.0 K/9 ratio in 108.1 innings, with a 1.20 GO/AO ratio.
Creasy is one of the prep pitchers from the 2011 draft class. He’s over-shadowed by fellow 2011 prep pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes, as well as 2011 picks like Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, and Alex Dickerson. Creasy doesn’t have the stuff of Glasnow or Holmes, but he knows how to pitch. He has great command of his two-seam fastball, which features good movement, and now that he’s added an out pitch he’s looking like a guy with a major league future. He doesn’t have the upside of Glasnow or Holmes, but he could be a back of the rotation starter or a power reliever.
The Other Candidates
Tyler Glasnow had one of the most dominant months in the system this year. He posted a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings, with 36 strikeouts. The strikeouts were second in the system to Jameson Taillon, who needed 37 innings to strikeout 37 batters in Triple-A. The most impressive thing is that Glasnow only gave up seven hits, thanks in large part to ten no-hit innings in his final two starts. The Pirates pushed Glasnow back a few times to limit his innings, and because of that he only had 19 innings since the start of August, which is why Jason Creasy got the edge.
Luis Heredia also had a strong month with West Virginia. The right-hander posted a 1.82 ERA in 34.2 innings, with a 33:17 K/BB ratio. His strikeouts were third in the system during that time, behind Taillon and Glasnow. Heredia’s walks have been an issue this year, but outside of the control problems he’s been posting good numbers. Considering he’s a year younger than Glasnow, and pitching at the same level, his numbers so far have been very encouraging.
Buddy Borden was drafted in the seventh round this year, and was one of the last guys to sign. He had a great debut, putting up a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings this year, with a 23:5 K/BB ratio. All of his innings came since the start of August. He eventually moved into the rotation, and could be an option for the West Virginia rotation next year, with a chance to move to Bradenton at some point in the year.
Cody Dickson had one of the most impressive seasons out of the pitchers from the 2013 draft class. Dickson finished strong, posting a 1.57 ERA in 28.2 innings, with a 25:9 K/BB ratio. The fourth round pick had a 2.37 ERA in 57 innings this year, with a 59:24 K/BB ratio.