Morning Report: This is it For Indianapolis, All-or-Nothing Finale

“The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played.” If you’ve been reading the Morning Report since the playoffs started, then you have read that first sentence everyday for the last dozen days. Today’s the day that happens, though the second part of it might not be correct if Indianapolis can pull off a comeback in the series. The winner of tonight’s game will play the champion of the Pacific Coast League on Tuesday night. If that happens, we will have one more Prospect Watch for you this year, with a full recap of that game.

Let’s recap how Indianapolis got to this point:

They swept the first playoff series rather easy over Scranton/WB.

During the regular season, they tied Columbus for the West division crown, but Columbus held the tie-breaker in the season series, so Indianapolis was the #4 seed. The two teams played 21 times during the regular season and Columbus won 11, Indianapolis won ten. They were basically even for the entire season, so what else would you expect from the playoffs?

The first two games were in Columbus, as they didn’t get the home field advantage in the finals. That went to the winner of the #1 vs #4 match-up, which of course was Indianapolis. Columbus won both games at home and both were one run games.

They come back to Indianapolis for game three, in a game that saw Tyler Glasnow sent to the mound. He put them in a hole early and then they scratched back to tie it, then win it. It was a another one run game.

Chad Kuhl made his AAA debut last night in game four and pitched brilliantly, but left with a tie game after seven innings. Frank Herrmann comes in, Willy Garcia gets hurt, Herrmann allows a three-run homer. Indianapolis scores once in the eighth and three times in the ninth to win it. Josh Bell collects four hits, homers, draws a walk. Another one run game.

So here we are, an all-or-nothing game and as of this writing, Indianapolis has no idea who will be on the mound. It won’t be Kuhl or Glasnow. Won’t be Wednesday’s starter Wilfredo Boscan, but he will likely be available since today would normally be a bullpen day for him. Manager Dean Treanor said it won’t be Chris Volstad, but he skipped his bullpen day and will be available, likely for multiple innings. That leaves Zack Dodson as a possible starter, but he hasn’t pitched in exactly two weeks. It’s a tough spot for them, but it might be multiple innings from multiple pitchers instead of just going with a traditional starter.

We will have a full recap of the game tonight and if Indianapolis is the team that wins by one run tonight, then Tuesday becomes the final game of the minor league season and that last Prospect Watch will follow shortly after the game ends. The PCL only played game three last night, so they have at least one more game before deciding their winner.

That will bring up an interesting decision for the one game against the PCL winner. Tyler Glasnow could pitch that game, since it would be five days after his last start. With the way he has pitched in the playoffs, looking shaky in both games, he won’t be the best option though. Volstad or Boscan will be the best option, even if they pitch tonight. It will depend on how much they pitch tonight of course. If it’s just 1-2 innings, then it’s no different than a normal bullpen day for them as far as how strenuous it would be considered. If they pitch more(and it’s doubtful both will), then they wouldn’t be options and that leaves your best prospect, though not best option, for the AAA championship.

First things first though, they need a win tonight. If a starter is named early enough, I’ll update it below in the schedule. If not, just check the Prospect Watch, which will go live so you can follow along, right around the 7:05 start time.

You can find last night’s Prospect Watch here. Thanks for reading the Morning Report daily.

Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis won the series 3-0

9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3

9/10: Indianapolis 6, Scranton/WB 1

9/11: Indianapolis 4, Scranton/WB 2

Indianapolis vs Columbus. Best-of-five series. International League finals. The series is tied 2-2

9/15: Columbus 6, Indianapolis 5

9/16: Columbus 5, Indianapolis 4

9/17: Indianapolis 6 Columbus 5

9/18: Indianapolis 5, Columbus 4

9/19: @Indianapolis 7:05

Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Altoona lost the series 3-1.

9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7

9/10: Bowie 7, Altoona 0

9/11: Bowie 11, Altoona 3

9/12: Bowie 3, Altoona 0

West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. The Power lost the series 2-1.

9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2

9/11: Hickory 6, West Virginia 3

9/12: Hickory 1, West Virginia 0

Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series. Morgantown won the series 2-1

9/9: @Morgantown 7:05 postponed until 9/10

9/10: Morgantown 2, Williamsport 1

9/11: Williamsport 3, Morgantown 1

9/12: @Williamsport 12:00 postponed until 9/13

9/13: Morgantown 4, Williamsport 0

Morgantown vs Staten Island. Best-of-three series. NYPL Finals. Morgantown wins 2-0

9/14: Morgantown 4, Staten Island 3

9/15: Morgantown 3, Staten Island 1

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by five games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a one game lead for the top wild card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost to the Dodgers on Friday night. Francisco Liriano will be on the mound tonight against Clayton Kershaw, who has a 2.12 ERA in 208 innings this year. Kershaw has a 1.40 ERA at home. On August 7th, he allowed four runs over six innings to the Pirates. Liriano faced the Dodgers on August 8th and allowed four runs over three innings. He has a 5.09 ERA in his last eight starts.

MLB: Pittsburgh (87-60) @ Dodgers (85-61) 9:10 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.45 ERA, 65:182 BB/SO, 167.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) vs Columbus (83-61) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: TBD

AA: Altoona (74-68)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34)  NYPL Champs

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)

DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)


Here we have a video of Josh Bell hitting an RBI double on Thursday night. He has been great in the playoffs, including four hits and a walk on Friday night.

Recent Transactions

9/15: Radhames Liz designated for assignment. Vance Worley added to Pirates.

9/15: Chad Kuhl promoted to Indianapolis. Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona. Brad Lincoln activated from DL.

9/10: A.J. Burnett activated from disabled list.

9/9: Zack Dodson promoted to Indianapolis.

9/9: Felipe Gonzalez and Hunter Morris promoted to Altoona. Robert Stock assigned to GCL Pirates.

9/7: Travis Ishikawa activated from disabled list.

9/5: Travis Ishikawa assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, starting with the most recent first. Robinzon Diaz, catcher during the 2008-09 season. He was the player the Pirates got back for Jose Bautista. I’m still not sure why they gave up on Diaz so quick, considering he didn’t do bad in his brief time in Pittsburgh, plus he was still fairly young with strong numbers in the minors. That made the trade look even worse, though you had to ignore the fact Bautista probably wouldn’t have been around after the 2008 season (certainly not after 2009) due to his upcoming salary and poor play. He was also disgruntled over losing his spot to Andy LaRoche (wouldn’t you be too?) and was sent to the minors prior to the trade. Diaz last played pro ball during the winter of 2017. He finished 15-year career with a .295 minor league average in 1,049 games.

Ray Sadler, has a similar story to Diaz, which if you remember Sadler, you probably won’t believe the next part. He spent 2015 playing independent ball, ten seasons after his only three Major League games, which came between May 8th and 11th, 2015 for the Pirates. He played 16 years of pro ball, four years of winter ball and even played in the Italy version of the big leagues.

Stuffy McInnis, first baseman for the 1925-26 Pirates. He is probably the best mid-season pick-up in franchise history. The Pirates signed him two months into the 1925 season and all he did was hit .368 for them, helping them to win their second World Series title. McInnis had a terrific career that saw him bat .307, with over 1,000 RBIs, 2,405 hits and he’s third all-time in sacrifice hits with 383 of them. That’s a lot of at-bats to give away for the good of the team, yet he still managed over 2,400 hits.

He was also a sure-handed first baseman during an era in which defense at first base was a lot more important than now. For 11 straight seasons, he finished first or second in fielding percentage at first base. Somehow he is a -4.3 career for defensive WAR, despite being widely regarded as being great defensively and he has the range/numbers to back it up.

September 20th

Five former Pirates born on this date, starting with the most recent. Jason Bay, left fielder for the Pirates from 2003 until 2008. He was the first Rookie of the Year in team history (2004) and he remains the only one to this day. In 719 games in Pittsburgh, he had an .890 OPS, which ranks as the seventh best in team history. Bay was an All-Star during the 2005-06 seasons.

Randy Kramer, pitcher from 1988 until 1990. He started 18 games and pitched 34 times in relief over his three seasons in Pittsburgh. Kramer was traded to the Cubs late in the 1990 season for minor league pitcher Greg Kallevig, who didn’t play another game after the deal.

Dennis Ribant, pitcher for the 1967 club. He made 22 starts and 16 relief appearances during his only season in Pittsburgh. The Pirates traded Ribant away following the season and reacquired him prior to the 1970 season. He never played in the majors after 1969, pitching in AAA from 1970-73, before retiring.

Vic Lombardi, pitched for the Pirates from 1948 until 1950. Won ten games during the 1948 season. Made 31 starts and 80 relief appearances with Pittsburgh, posting a 4.60 ERA over 373.1 innings

Red Juelich, infielder for the 1939 Pirates. He hit .239 in 17 games during his only season in the majors. Played seven years in the minors.

On this date in 1969, Bob Moose no-hit the New York Mets, the team that went on to win the World Series. You can find the boxscore here, complete with play-by-play. Moose walked three batters in the game. Amazing when you look at the two lineups and think that the Mets were somehow the better team at the time.

Exactly 62 years earlier, rookie Nick Maddox threw the first nine inning no-hitter in team history, defeating Brooklyn by a 2-1 score. The record books list this as the first no-hitter in team history, but that’s only due to a change made many years later that didn’t count shortened games as official no-hitters. I’m not sure what else to call an official complete game with no hits (they called them “no-hitters” for a very long time), but the Pirates had one by Lefty Leifield in 1906 and another by Howie Camnitz less than a month before Maddox pitched his game. So technically it’s the third no-hitter in franchise history, but if you refuse to use common sense, then Maddox pitched the first no-hitter for the team. I just preface it by saying it’s the first nine inning no-hitter to appease the baseball gods.

Morning Report

  • Well unless the schedule is wrong, it looks like Volstad will start on short rest. So much for Treanor saying “I don’t know who will start, but it won’t be Volstad”

  • Re: The 1969 Mets won 8 games more than their Pythagorean projection, whereas the Pirates were one game under their Pythagorean projection. The Pirates team ERA was about one-half a run worse than their team FIP. The Mets had Seaver and Koosman. It’s been many decades since the Pirates had a pitcher as dominant as Seaver. So, the Mets were a slightly better team, but also a very lucky team as well. The Pirates put an incredible offense on the field. But team defense hampered a pitching staff that lacked superstars. Seaver was awesome that season — a legitimate 25 game winner since he did not have the run support that other pitchers had.

    Re: Glasnow. Disregarding any workload issues, I cannot convince myself that having Glasnow gaining more experience in big games counts for less than having Indianapolis win the AAA World Series.

  • Laroche, at that point in time, was the Dodgers #1 prospect. I have the BA book to prove it.

    NH admits his mistake, but he thought all he was trading was a poor fielding 3bman who had had his chances.

    He was this close (think gnat’s eyelash) to being released by Toronto.

    In hindsight it sucked, but, at the time…..

    • LaRoche was one of the best prospects in all of baseball going into 2008, he just did nothing in two chances with the Dodgers. He had a decent 2009 season, just couldn’t build on that. He had strong minor league numbers, although his 2008 numbers at Las Vegas are very misleading. An .891 OPS with Indianapolis would look amazing, but there he was 7th best on his team and five of those players ahead of him did very little in the majors

  • And still, on the PG and Trib story pages, there are ‘idjits’ calling for Glasnow to be promoted to the majors.