It looks like Altoona will be on MiLB.TV tonight, so I plan on spending my Friday night watching Steven Brault’s last regular season start. He has had quite a season, especially since being sent to Altoona. Among pitchers in the Pirates’ system, he is second to Zack Dodson with 147.2 innings pitched. Brault is fourth among starters with a 2.56 ERA. He is second to Tyler Glasnow in strikeouts, picking up 120 this season. He’s also fifth among starters with a 1.16 WHIP. Brault has a 1.47 GO/AO ratio and he’s holding batters to a .234 BAA, so a lot is going right this season.
I was thinking about his spot in the Arizona Fall League and it reminded me of Adrian Sampson last year. I thought he was a surprise pick due to all the innings he threw and the same holds true for Brault. He is only 1.1 IP over his total from last season, so there isn’t a problem with an innings limit for a young pitcher at this point. Brault will add some more innings tonight and get at least one playoff start, unless Altoona collapses the next few days. Sampson was about the same age as Brault is now and he went from 140 innings to 167 innings last year, so it’s going to be very close to the same situation.
I could see Brault then doing the same thing Sampson did in the AFL. Sampson threw 12 innings over ten appearances and never went more than two innings in a game. He was there to refine his secondary pitches and Brault could be there to concentrate on throwing a certain pitch in game situations against strong competition. If Brault does end up starting, his inning total won’t be much higher. Most starters are on a 50-pitch limit and they make six or seven starts over the 32-game schedule. So they usually fall in the 20-30 range for innings.
Speaking of Sampson, he has had a tough time in the Pacific Coast League since being traded. No one should expect him to go to the PCL and do better, it’s a high offense league and Tacoma is one of the teams that scores a lot and gives up a lot of runs. That being said, I don’t think anyone expected him to have a 6.82 ERA through six starts. His best outing was three runs over eight innings in Las Vegas, which is actually a pretty good game. The rest have been bad though. He has a .340 BAA and a 1.66 WHIP.
The Adam Frazier batting title watch remained the same as yesterday, except he has one less game left in the season. After going 1-for-3, he still has a six point lead over an injured player, so it’s all up to Frazier to hold the lead. It’s possible that if the last game is meaningless for the standings, Frazier doesn’t play, so he can get a rest for the playoffs.
If you missed the Prospect Watch from last night, shame on you. In it, I explain how Harold Ramirez could win the FSL batting title over the last three days of his season. It could be possible with a couple big games and some more help from the league leader, who went 0-for-5 last night.
The minor league regular season ends on Monday. The Pirates’ affiliates have a total of 19 games left and three teams are still fighting for a playoff spot. Indianapolis and West Virginia have already clinched their spot, although Indianapolis is still trying to win their division. They have a one game lead. Depending on which teams get which playoff spots, the playoffs will begin on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Pirates Game Graph
The Pirates trail by 6.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a four game lead for the top wild card spot.
Indianapolis has clinched a playoff spot.
Altoona is 4-6 in their last ten games. They lead the wild card by two games, with four games left.
Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by one game in the standings with three games left. Palm Beach holds the tie-breaker.
West Virginia has clinched a playoff spot.
Morgantown is 7-3 in their last ten games. They have a one game lead in the wild card chase with four games left in the season. Five teams are still alive in the wild card chase.
The Bristol Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.
The DSL Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-3 to the Brewers on Thursday night. They now travel to St Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals. J.A. Happ will be on the mound for the Pirates for his sixth start. He has given up one earned run over 17.2 innings in his last three starts. The Cardinals will go with Carlos Martinez, who has a 2.91 ERA in 154.2 innings. He has had three drastically different starts versus the Pirates this year. He gave up seven runs over 5.1 innings in May. Threw 7.1 shutout innings in July. Gave up three runs on nine hits in eight innings last month.
In the minors, Steven Brault looks to extend his streak of success. In his last nine starts, he has a 1.10 ERA in 57.1 innings. He has allowed one earned run or less in eight of those games and two in the other. Austin Coley has given up one earned run in each of his last three starts, throwing a total of 19 innings. His 106 strikeouts are sixth most in the SAL, two behind teammate Yeudy Garcia for the team lead. Matt Benedict makes his second start for Indianapolis. He was called up after the rosters expanded and the Pirates added six players, leaving Indianapolis short-handed. Bristol, DSL and GCL Pirates are done. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (79-53) @ St Louis (86-47) 8:15 PM
Probable starter: J.A. Happ (1.98 ERA, 7:24 BB/SO, 27.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (81-59) vs Toledo (58-81) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (3.60 ERA, 1:2 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (72-66) @ Binghamton (75-62) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.20 ERA, 19:75 BB/SO, 82.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (72-63, 40-25 second half) vs St Lucie (67-68) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (4.01 ER, 40:51 BB/SO, 137.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (83-52, 46-20 second half) @Kannapolis (64-70) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.77 ERA, 25:106 BB/SO, 140.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (39-33) vs Williamsport (44-28) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (29-36)
GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)
DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)
Here are some highlights and lowlights from the Wednesday night game for Indianapolis
9/3: Hunter Morris assigned to GCL Pirates
9/2: Austin Meadows, Tyler Eppler and Montana DuRapau sent to Altoona. Matt Benedict and Mel Rojas Jr sent to Indianapolis
9/2: Oderman Rocha assigned to Bradenton
9/2: Pedro Florimon added to 40-man roster. Deolis Guerra placed on 60-day DL.
9/1: Luis Escobar promoted to Morgantown
9/1: Casey Sadler placed on 60-day DL. Elias Diaz, Bobby LaFromboise, Jaff Decker recalled
9/1: Rob Scahill activated from DL. Travis Snider and Radhames Liz added to 40-man roster
8/31: Wilkin Castillo added to Indianapolis roster. John Bowker and Adam Miller activated from disabled list.
8/29: Alen Hanson activated from Temporary Inactive List. Wilkin Castillo assigned to GCL.
8/28: Carlos Munoz promoted to Morgantown.
8/28: Edwin Espinal activated from Bradenton disabled list. Clay Holmes placed on disabled list.
8/28: Kelson Brown placed on disabled list.
8/26: Stephan Meyer and Tanner Anderson promoted to Morgantown.
8/26: Cristian Mota promoted to Bristol.
8/25: Ke’Bryan Hayes promoted to Morgantown. Raul Siri promoted to Bristol.
8/25: Kevin Kramer promoted to West Virginia. Jordan Luplow placed on disabled list.
8/25: John Bowker placed on disabled list. Kelson Brown activated from disabled list.
8/25: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/25: Alen Hanson placed on temporary inactive list.
8/22: Jordy Mercer activated from disabled list. Travis Ishikawa placed on disabled list.
8/22: Josh Wall sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/22: Pirates release Jesus Ronco and Luis Brun
8/21: Josh Harrison activated from disabled list. Josh Wall designated for assignment.
This Date in Pirates History
Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a couple games of note. Starting with the players, we have 1904 left fielder Jack Gilbert. He played pro ball for 17 seasons, but he only got into 28 big league games. The Pirates gave him a 25-game trial at the end of the 1904 season, starting him in place of HOF left fielder/manager Fred Clarke, who was sick at the time. Gilbert hit .241 with 13 runs and 12 walks.
Also born on this date, 1896 pitcher Elmer Horton. He pitched two games at the end of the 1896 season for the Pirates, then went on a post-season barnstorming tour, serving as one of three pitchers the team had at the time. In November, he was part of a big trade with Baltimore, in which the Pirates got back star center fielder Steve Brodie in exchange for Jake Stenzel, who is the Pirates’ all-time batting leader.
On this date in 1890, the Alleghenys came home for the first time since August 12th and they broke a 23-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Spiders. The Alleghenys would go on the road again after that win and post a 1-11 record. They were scheduled to play two more home games against Cleveland, but rain postponed those contests.
From the worst team in franchise history to the best, and the results were definitely flipped for both teams on September 4th. The 1902 Pirates had an 87-29 record, with a 26-game lead in the NL. The had basically clinched at that point, as they ended up playing 24 more games that year. On September 4th however, they did not look like the best club in franchise history. The Pirates lost 1-0 and tied 0-0 against Boston, a team with a 57-55 record going into the day. The tie was called after nine innings due to darkness at 5:25 by Hall of Fame umpire Hank O’Day, who took a lot of verbal abuse from the crowd for his decision. The local newspaper declared that they could have played another two hours before it was too dark to play.
The big headline from the day before was that the Pirates were too good and fans weren’t showing up because they figured they were going to win. Seems odd to say, but the games weren’t important in the standings, so it turned off fans from going to games at the end of the year.