Last night I wrote about how Edinson Volquez had been listed on the Pirates.com page as the starter for the Wild Card game, which went along with a lot of speculation to say that Volquez would be the guy getting the ball. Today, the Pirates have made it official that Volquez is the starter.

https://twitter.com/Pirates/status/516602650520199169

I gave my thoughts on the subject in last night’s article. In short: I’d rather have Francisco Liriano on short rest than Volquez, assuming Liriano is healthy. It’s a bit of a gamble to go with Volquez in a one game playoff. However, if it works out, the Pirates are set up well for the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, with Liriano and Gerrit Cole as the starters for the first two games, Volquez available for game three, and one or two of the first two guys available for the fourth and fifth games.

Even with Volquez, FanGraphs has the Pirates as slight favorites, giving them a 52% chance to win the Wild Card game.

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72 COMMENTS

  1. Suppose EV goes about six innings and he needs to come out, do you have Worley pitch the 7th and 8th? If he had to start the following Tuesday in Pittsburgh (hopefully we get that far!) he would be pitching on 5 days’ rest. After this weekend and remembering the series in DC in August, for example, I’m a little nervous about the relief pitching to get us to Melancon. I think I would like those 7th and 8th inning guys to rebuild their confidence when they aren’t pitching in a potentially season ending game.

  2. Just looked, and although only one of the Giants has any significant at bats against EV, several players Belt, Sandoval, and Posey have ridiculous numbers against him, even in their limited at bats. That’s a little scary. Rather have a better match-up but what can we do? Lets hope he pitches lights out…24 scoreless innings streak would nice to be talking about Thurs morning.

  3. I’m pretty sure the games outcome will hinge on the positioning of the seventh fenster valve. It’s all ball bearings now anyway.

  4. I actually think EV is a better option than Liriano for this game. Liriano has had a lot of control problems early in games. You want to throw strikes to a team whose offense is not very good right now.

    • We have no “Ace” right now, no one who doesn’t have flaws. Cole allows too many hard hit balls, homeruns, EV’s numbers are built for regression, FL has control problems, Worley is all control and no stuff, and Locke is completely hit and miss. EV has been pitching the best out of everyone recently, so lets do it

  5. Not a bad choice, could have been better if they had not started cole in the pipe dream game. All water under the bridge now though and ya have to go with the best available option, like it or not. Time to cross all fingers and toes, LET’S GO BUCS!!!

  6. I see no reason why Edison can’t start and should not start, I do believe there other elements to this game that are bigger concerns, one, it is important that Martin catch him and two, the Pirates have got to hit in this game, something they have not been doing much of lately. I could care less about Edison’s peripherals, he has established himself with his play this year, IMO xFIP like stats are stats that might concern you if you are looking at bringing in a player, not one that is pitching at the end of the season, he can’t and won’t regress in 1 or 2 games, he can have a bad game, but that is not regression, regression takes place over a long period of time, and this guy is just getting better.

  7. I do not agree with Liriano. I think EV is the better choice. Liriano makes me nervous because of his walk ration lately. The NATS will take advantage if he does not get swings and misses.

  8. After Lirano’s control issues on Saturday I’m not sure I would want him on short rest. It is what it is and just hope Martin is back. I’m just going to hope for a great Volquez start and take it from there. A better first half and less injuries by everyone and we wouldn’t be having this conservation because the division would have been the Pirates by a few games.

    • It wasn’t just his last start. In the start before that, Liriano walked two Braves in the first inning; before that, he walked three Red Sox in the first. In both of those cases he got out of the inning without being scored on, but it was bound to catch up with him sooner or later — as it did on Saturday, when the Reds scored three.

      Liriano’s overall results have been exceptional, but his control — especially early — has been shaky at best. I’m totally comfortable opening a five- or seven-game series with him, but the risk of getting in a three-run hole in an elimination game is just too great.

  9. Based on the matchup…Vance Worley would’ve been my choice. A lower FIP and xFIP and good home numbers and stellar numbers against the Giants. I would guess, maybe Tim could tell us for sure, that the Giants don’t hit cutters really well and that is why Worley has been successful against them in his career.

      • I wouldn’t actually mind a 4-3-1-1 type setup…4 from EV, 3 from VW, and then go from there. I’m attempting to find (although it’s hard to do on my iPhone) the Giants stats against the cutter.

        • I would love to see them go with a full bullpen game, EV one time through, Worley one time through, then the 4 good RP. That would be statistically the best approach, I doubt Hurdle would do it.

          • I am not a huge Clint Hurdle fan overall, and I specifically haven’t like how he’s handled pitchers (in game) and the recent decisions in the Reds series. However, he did get by with the Morton decision against the Red Sox…so maybe he’ll get this one too.

          • I wouldn’t go that route, jal. Now you are relying on more pitchers to pitch well. If EV has it, keep him in there like you have most of the season. He actually gets stronger the 2nd time through the lineup. If he doesn’t have it sure, you have to have a quick hook.

            • Smurph, no pitcher gets better the 2nd time through the lineup and the 3rd time through they all do poorly. EV has been pretty steady through games this year 1st time – .629ops, 2nd time .681ops, 3rd time .692ops.EV was at his worst on pitches 51-75 of a start with a .842ops against. This happens to all SP – Kershaw even goes from .473ops the first time through to .573 the second time.

              If you look at a guy like Hughes, his ops against was .601 the 1st time against hitters, Watson was .613. Even Wilson is at .643. These guys are all statistically better than Volquez the 2nd or 3rd time through. One of these days a manager will have the cajones to go full bullpen game in this 1 game play in.

          • we don’t have 4 good relief pitchers, and we’d have noone left to pitch extra innings, left hanging on axford again no thanks

  10. The Bucs will have to score 5+ runs to win this game. They better bring their bats. Volquez’ home ERA is worse than his road ERA (the exact opposite of Bum)…in a one-game, winner-take-all this is a huge gamble, but maybe it will work out, unlike Hurdle’s last two gambles (last two games of Reds series).

    • This viewpoint is nothing more than an uninformed opinion. Volquez has been stellar of late. Giants lineup is depleted by injury. Just as good a chance of Giants scoring 2 runs or less as 3 or more, let alone 5+.

      • Actually I think it’s your opinion that isn’t informed. EV FIP and xFIP are both well above his actual ERA lately suggesting a very large regression. EV ERA may be stellar as of late but his peripheral statistics say he’s a 3.8ERA pitcher.

        • You can no more predict if and when Volquez will regress than I can predict tomorrow’s mega millions #’s. But I can predict w 100% certainty if Pirates lose because Volquez pitches poorly, I, and others on this thread, will blame you and your negative energy for it!

          • You could blame me, although that would take the blame off the guys who actually make the decisions and who actually play on the field.

    • 3.06 at home vs 3.01 at home

      Come on man, that’s 5 hundredths of a run per 9 innings

      I also thought the Pirates should save Cole, and I understand the arguments on each side… but you’ve gotta come up with something better for your argument than a .05 difference in ERA splits…

    • 12 straight starts of 3 runs or less (2.20 ERA since the AS break), 10 ER in his last 10 starts combined. You are underselling EV just a tad. Besides a 1 game playoff should be a bullpen heavy game. There is no sane argument for allowing any SP to face a lineup the 3rd time through. EV gets 18 batters, hopefully 5 IP and it’s Hughes/Holdzkom/Watson/Melancon for 4 innings.

        • Tony Watson, the guy with the 4th best era of any RP in the NL scares you? You realize that prior to yesterday he hadn’t allowed a run in 6 weeks, 18 straight scoreless appearances? You are being needlessly pessimistic.

          • Yes, the guy with the 4th best ERA scares me lately. It’s great that he hadn’t given up a run in 6-weeks and had 18 straight scoreless appearances. I can tell you that watching the games he was getting hit much harder it seemed than earlier in the season.

          • jalcorn, quit leeching on Watson’s Johnson…. you sound like Tim. Have you actually been watching the games? Or do you just stare at stats all day. Watson HAS been getting hit hard, and hasn’t been NEARLY as good in the second half. Has he been average? No, but he hasn’t been unhittable that’s for damn sure. His command has been trash for the last 2 months. He has allowed runs they just weren’t his……God forbid you ever actually need to bring him into an inning with runners on base

        • Jared- this is quite true actually…..the way Volquez has been pitching lately, if he goes 5 innings, i’m very frightened. Just see the last two games against the reds as an example. The cupboard gets bare and before you know it, John Axford and a AAA pitcher are deciding the game. No, i’ll pass

      • That’s great…but how long can EV greatly outperform his peripherals? Do you really think it’s a safe gamble to expect him to continue to perform almost 2-runs under his peripherals?

        • Long term of course not, for 1 more start absolutely. There is no reason to expect crashing regression in the next start.

            • Haha. Regression does not mean EV will bomb, certainly, but it does lead me to have less confidence in the fact that his numbers are “legit” and to be expected moving forward. The regression statistics also give me caution in expecting EV to continue to pitch to the level he has been.

              • Much better. Now tell that to the guy who wrote this:

                “The Bucs will have to score 5+ runs to win this game. They better bring their bats. Volquez’ home ERA is worse than his road ERA…”

              • Until Regression analysis gives a context for a period of time it can predict this regression to take place in, it actually has zero value. That’s why i laugh everytime someone brings it up. When a pitcher is due for regression after 2 months, Tim says it won’t continue, then for a half he says the same thing…….then for a season, etc…….where does it end? At some point, the pitcher just did a good job of limiting damage, and next season maybe he won’t, or maybe he will pitch better and have less trouble to get out of. Every pitch thrown is a combination of stuff, analysis, pitch calling by the catcher, outside distractions, bad umpiring, base runners, weather, the seems on the ball, the time of day, and relative humidity. I mean, just let it go, this is a game meant to be played on the field. Lets allow it to be He’s been on a roll, lets allow it to play out. Do you bench your guys when he is on a hitting streak because it has to eventually stop????? NO

          • on this topic i’m agreeing with Jalcorn, he wasn’t outperforming his peripherals last start, his peripherals beamed like a floodlight. He was pitching in luck a lot in the first half, he has pitched much closer to his peripherals in the second half, he doesn’t need to regress to make back all the luck he had in the first half, because he is now actually pitching up to that level

  11. Pirates brass set themselves up for legitimate criticism from fans and analysts if Volquez has a bad game. However, I believe nobody inside the organization has an issue with this decision. And furthermore, this team is not going to win the WS unless Volquez is a contributor.

    As they say down here in GA, “Let’s get er done!”

    • It seems at this point, the team is in cohesion with their decision making process and really disregards outside calls of criticism for the most part. They stick pretty well to their internal evaluations of players and situations from FO to coaches.

    • This team isn’t going to win the WS, Volquez or no Volquez. I wish I thought they could, but I don’t see them beating the Nats or Dodgers/Cards. Then if they get to the AL, I don’t see them stacking up against any of the likely teams they’d face. They’re just not good enough.

      • Yes they are. A lot of things need to go right for them, but that’s true of any team that wins the WS. But at least you don’t have to waste time watching the playoffs since you already know the outcome.

        • I’ve been a Pirates fan for 40 years. I love them as much as anyone. I’m just a realist. I guess I can’t say it’s absolutely impossible for them to win the WS, but last year they lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs. I see the Cards being not quite as strong this year, and yet they took 3 of 4 from the Pirates earlier this month. Anyway, I think the Dodgers will beat the Cards, and I just don’t see this Bucs team getting through the Nats pitching, much less Kershaw, etc. Everything would need to go right for them.

        • I agree. With the upside that Cole and Liriano have and their bullpen, they absolutely have a chance. Every WS winner has things break right for them.

  12. Yes, it sets up nicely if the Bucs get to the Nats, but I think Volquez makes that an awful big if. The Bucs better bring their hittin’ shoes.

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