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 top five short season pitchers are also highlighted in a separate group, since most of those guys only go 4-5 innings max, and don’t have a good chance of being highlighted in the top ten. 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.
The Top Ten
Joely Rodriguez has put up some impressive numbers this year. The lefty had a 2.72 ERA in 72.2 innings in West Virginia to start the year, before being promoted to Bradenton. He moved up to high-A, and has a 2.36 ERA in 34.1 innings at the next level, with an 18:10 K/BB ratio. This week Rodriguez went six shutout innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and striking out six. That tied for the top game score of the week. Rodriguez hasn’t been striking out a lot of hitters, but isn’t allowing a lot of hits, is keeping the walks down, and he is also getting a lot of ground balls, with a 2.3 GO/AO ratio. He’s also consistently sitting 91-94 MPH with his fastball and commanding the pitch despite having a lot of movement. That makes him one of the most interesting left-handed pitchers to watch in the system.
Jackson Lodge tied with Rodriguez for the top start. Lodge went six shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out three. On the season the left-hander has a 3.19 ERA in 31 innings, with a 12:1 K/BB ratio. Of the two lefties, Rodriguez is more of a prospect, while Lodge is a soft tossing lefty with great control.
Jon Sandfort continued his impressive numbers in the GCL. He threw five shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out six for the third best score this week. On the season Sandfort has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings, with a 16:3 K/BB ratio. All of his runs and walks came in one start on July 12th. His start last week was the first one since that bad outing, and he bounced back well.
Eliecer Navarro and Dovydas Neverauskas tied for the fourth best game score in the system last week. Navarro gave up three earned runs on three hits in seven innings, with a walk and six strikeouts. Navarro has given up six earned runs in 18 innings over his last three starts in Altoona, with a 9:4 K/BB ratio. Neverauskas has a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings this year, with a 16:7 K/BB ratio. In the month of July he has a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings, with a 12:3 K/BB ratio.
Nick Kingham had another good start in Altoona, throwing 6.1 shutout innings and giving up six hits and three walks. Kingham came on in relief for the rehabbing Jared Hughes, and almost pitched the rest of the game. So far with Altoona he has a 2.84 ERA in 38 innings, with a 32:11 K/BB ratio.
Stolmy Pimentel was the top pitcher in the system in each of the last two weeks. He finished tied for seventh this week, giving up two earned runs on five hits in seven innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Jameson Taillon was also tied for seventh, bouncing back from his horrible start the last time out. He went seven innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Cody Dickson was the third person to tie with a 60 game score. He threw four shutout innings for Jamestown, giving up a walk and two hits, and striking out three.
Kyle Haynes made a spot start for West Virginia this week, and rounded out the top ten. Haynes threw three innings, giving up just an unearned run on one hit, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Haynes is a hard throwing reliever from the 2012 draft, but won’t profile as a prospect unless he has success in the upper levels.
Short-Season Top Five
Sandfort, Lodge, Neverauskas, and Dickson all finished in the top ten, and were the top four short-season guys. The fifth best short-season pitcher was Wei-Chung Wang, who is on this list every week. Wang went four innings, giving up one earned run on three hits, with no walks and two strikeouts.
The Bottom Five
Last week Jameson Taillon had the worst start in the history of this feature. This week Andy Oliver had the second worst start. Oliver went 1.2 innings, allowing eight earned runs on five hits and five walks.
Adrian Sampson had two starts this week, giving up ten hits in each outing. The second start saw him also give up eight earned runs in 3.2 innings, for the second worst start of the week.
Luis Heredia made his start as a continuation of a rain suspended game. He went 3.2 innings, giving up eight runs on seven hits for the third worst start of the week, and his worst of the year.
Adrian Grullon and Cesilio Pimentel both had rough starts in the GCL this week. Grullon went two innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Pimentel went three innings, giving up five runs on five hits.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.