Top Performers: Sadler Leads a Great Week For Pirates Pitching Prospects

Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten and the bottom five starts are broken down below the chart. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*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.

Casey Sadler's eight innings ended up being the second best start of the year so far.
Casey Sadler’s eight innings ended up being the second best start of the year so far.

The Top Ten

Casey Sadler had the most efficient outing of the season last Monday, tossing eight innings with one unearned run. The sinkerballer only needed 88 pitches to get through eight innings, making him the only Pirates minor league starter to go beyond seven innings this year. Sadler’s game score of 78 was the second best in the system this year, only topped by Nick Kingham’s 79 two weeks ago when he struck out 13 in six shutout innings. Sadler made another start last week, giving up five runs and four earned in seven innings. He joined us on the Pirates Prospects podcast this past week.

Jameson Taillon was right behind Sadler, throwing six shutout innings and striking out eight to bounce back from his rough stretch of starts recently. Taillon had given up 12 earned runs in 20.2 innings over his previous four starts before this outing. John Eshleman had a report on Taillon’s start from Sunday. He also had one of the worst outings of the week last week, which I’ll get to later.

Indianapolis had a great week from their starting rotation. Out of their seven starts, six of them finished with a game score above 50. Four of those starts ended up in the top ten. Andy Oliver ranked third with a 69 game score last Monday, throwing six shutout innings and striking out five. Oliver’s second start finished 12th this week with a 57 game score, with one run in five innings of work. He was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for those starts.

Gerrit Cole finished with the fifth highest game score, with a 68, and was followed by Kris Johnson, who had a 67. Cole went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits. A big positive is that he’s only walked four batters in his last two games. Johnson threw five shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out five. Brandon Cumpton was the other Indianapolis starter to make the top ten, coming in at tenth on the list. Cumpton gave up three runs, two earned, in seven innings, with eight strikeouts. He made another start last week, giving up two earned runs in six innings for a 51 game score.

West Virginia also dominated the top 10 this week, with four of the top game scores. Joely Rodriguez led the way, throwing six shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Tom Bragg had a report from the start. Rodriguez has shown a lot of encouraging signs in the last few weeks. In his last three starts he has given up one earned run in 17.1 innings, with a 15:1 K/BB ratio. His issue in the past has been a lack of command, so the low walk rates are encouraging. He has just ten walks in 37 innings this year.

Tyler Glasnow had the seventh and eighth best game scores this week. On Tuesday he gave up one earned run in five innings, with a 10:4 K/BB ratio. He followed that up with one earned run in five innings on Sunday, with a 9:2 K/BB ratio. On the season he has a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings, with a 42:19 K/BB ratio. In his last three starts he has given up two earned runs and five hits in 15 innings, with a 26:8 K/BB ratio.

Orlando Castro had the ninth best game score this week, throwing seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts. Castro has a 1.58 ERA in 40 innings this year, with a 35:2 K/BB ratio.

The Bottom Five

Adrian Sampson has the stuff to be a top 20 prospect in the system. He was aggressively pushed to high-A this year, and has shown flashes of his potential. However, he’s had a few really rough starts, and ended up with the worst game score of the week. Sampson has a 6.26 ERA in 27.1 innings this year, with a 16:9 K/BB ratio.

Stolmy Pimentel is usually in the top three game scores each week. This week he actually had a bad start, giving up six runs in 4.1 innings. John Eshleman had a report from the start.

Jameson Taillon’s first start of the week didn’t do well, although Taillon didn’t pitch that bad. He gave up two unearned runs in the first inning due to an Andrew Lambo error at first base. He was hit in the shin with a hard grounder in the fourth, and left the game with two runners on base and no outs. Nathan Baker allowed both to score, giving Taillon his two earned runs.

Clay Holmes continued his string of rough starts with West Virginia. Holmes had the worst game score last week, and has been in the bottom five in five of the six weeks this season. Tom Bragg talked about Holmes in Friday’s Prospect Notebook.

Luis Sanz was making a start for Altoona, piggybacking with Ethan Hollingsworth. Sanz only went three innings and gave up three runs for the fifth worst game score this week.

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Lee Young

The problem with Oliver’s outings are his 10 walks in 12 innings. Until he fixes that, he’s a non prospect.


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