Morning Report: Three Aces Headed to the Mound Tonight in the Playoffs

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ four affiliates are doing well so far in the playoffs, winning all three games on Wednesday night and taking 2-of-3 on Thursday. That puts all four teams in a good spot right now, which only gets better when you see the starting pitchers they are rolling out tonight for the top three affiliates.

Nothing against Bret Helton for Morgantown, but the Black Bears have two pitchers who were among the best in the NYPL in Jonathan Brubaker and Dario Agrazal Jr., plus Brandon Waddell pitched his team to a College World Series title. He has obviously performed well in pressure situations recently. Morgantown was fighting for their playoff spot up until the last day of the season, so even if they wanted to set up their rotation for the playoffs, they needed to win their regular season games to make sure they got there. Helton had a 4.97 ERA and failed to go at least five innings in eight of his 14 starts. Waddell is scheduled for game three, so Morgantown has a good backup plan if they lose tonight.

That brings us to the three starters tonight for the full-season teams. Tyler Glasnow goes for Indianapolis, Steven Brault will throw for Altoona and Stephen Tarpley makes the start for West Virginia.

Glasnow is of course the best prospect in the organization, and also one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Brault just might be the one currently pitching the best though, running off an 0.96 ERA in his last ten starts. Then you have Stephen Tarpley, who finished among the South Atlantic League leaders in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP.

I said that Altoona is in a good spot because the series is 1-1 and they have Brault going, but this also looks like a must win game for them. They are on the road for the last three games and I’m not exactly sure who they will go to if there is a game five to be played. Game four will be Jason Creasy and he has been very inconsistent. Zack Dodson was the other starter, but he got called up to Indianapolis. Felipe Gonzalez was starting in Bradenton and he joined the team for the playoffs, but he went Thursday night for two innings, so that probably eliminates him. That leaves Thomas Harlan and that isn’t who you want to go to with the series on the line. He hasn’t gone more than three innings in over a month.

West Virginia is also on the road for the last two of their best-of-three series. They have Tarpley going today and the ERA leader of the SAL going tomorrow if necessary. Tarpley and Yeudy Garcia are probably the best 1-2 punch you can put out there in the Pirates’ system. Vance Worley and Tyler Glasnow are great as well, but let’s not forget that Glasnow has had some rough outings in AAA, especially recently when he got knocked out in the first inning just ten days ago. So you hope the Glasnow that threw 7.1 solid innings on Sunday shows up for the playoffs tonight.

Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault  were also a great duo during the second half, but Kuhl had a real bad outing in game one of the playoffs and he was only saved by Altoona overcoming a 7-0 deficit.

Tarpley had three bad starts all season in 20 games and Garcia never allowed more than four earned runs in a game. Garcia also made 14 starts and one relief appearance after June 15th and put up an 8-0 record. That tells you how well he did on the mound and how much support he got from his teammates. Garcia didn’t win any of his last four starts, yet gave up just three runs over 20.2 innings, so it could have been even better.

The last time Tarpley and Garcia lost back-to-back was June 14-15, which was 15 appearances ago for both of them. As for the team they’re playing tonight, Tarpley gave up two earned runs over 13.2 innings against Hickory, while Garcia allowed two earned runs in 9.2 innings against the Crawdads. That all adds up to a strong chance that the Power move on to the next round.

The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played. You can find last night’s Prospect Watch here.

Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis leads series 2-0

9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3

9/10: Indianapolis 6, Scranton/WB 1

9/11: @Scranton 6:35

9/12: @Scranton TBA if necessary

9/13: @Scranton TBA if necessary

Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Series is tied at 1-1

9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7

9/10: Bowie 7, Altoona 0

9/11: @Bowie 7:05

9/12: @Bowie 6:05 if necessary

9/13: @Bowie 1:05 if necessary

West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. West Virginia leads series 1-0

9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2

9/11: @ Hickory 7:00

9/12: @Hickory 7:00 if necessary

Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series. Morgantown leads series 1-0

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

9/10: Morgantown 2, Williamsport 1

9/11: @Williamsport 7:05

9/12: @Williamsport 7:05 if necessary

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 4.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 2.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-4 to the Brewers on Thursday night in 13 innings. Charlie Morton will get the ball tonight, making his third start against Milwaukee. In his first game back on June 10th, he threw 7.1 shutout innings. Five weeks later, he gave up four runs over six innings. The Brewers will go with Jimmy Nelson, who has a 3.86 ERA in 170.1 innings. This will be the sixth time the Pirates have seen him this season. He has a 1.72 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 31.1 innings against Pittsburgh.

MLB: Pittsburgh (83-56) vs Brewers (62-78) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (4.07 ERA, 35:83 BB/SO, 112.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) @ Scranton W/B (81-63) 6:35 PM
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (2.20 ERA, 22:48 BB/SO, 41.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-68) @ Bowie (79-63) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.00 ERA, 19:80 BB/SO, 90.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52, 50-20 second half) @ Hickory (81-57) 7:00 PM
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (2.48 ERA, 25:105 BB/SO, 116.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34) @ Williamsport (46-30) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Bret Helton  (4.97 ERA, 20:37 BB/SO, 54.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

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

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


Here is the bottom of the ninth, game-tying homer from Austin Meadows that everyone is talking about.

Recent Transactions

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.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two that played for World Series winners. We start with Don Slaught, catcher from 1990 until 1995. The Pirates won the NL East the first three years Slaught was in Pittsburgh, serving in a platoon role with Mike LaValliere. Slaught hit .305 in 475 games with the Pirates, including a .345 average in 1992. That year he hit .333 in the playoffs, driving in five runs.

Dave Roberts, 1979-80 pitcher. Came over in the Bill Madlock trade from the Giants. Roberts had a 3.26 ERA in 21 appearances in 1979 for the Pirates. After two appearances in 1980, he was sold to the Mariners. Roberts was also in the minors for the Pirates after they picked him up on waivers in 1964 and then again when he was returned to the team following the 1967 rule 5 draft.

Jackie Hernandez, shortstop from 1971 until 1973. For the 1971 World Series champs, he hit .206 in 88 games, seeing some time at third base, along with 65 starts at shortstop. He went 7-for-31 and drove in two runs during the postseason.

Glenn Spencer, pitcher in 1928, then again from 1930 until 1932. He went 23-29. 4.48 in 42 starts and 80 relief appearances with the Pirates.

Frank Moore, Pirates pitcher on June 14, 1905. Threw three shutout innings in his only Major League appearance. At 6’4″ back in 1905, he got the nickname “Giant”. His only game included one odd occurrence rarely seen in baseball. His catcher was lefty Homer Hillebrand, who caught three times for the Pirates.

Steve Brodie, center fielder for the 1897-98 Pirates. The Pirates thought so highly of Brodie, that they gave up Jake Stenzel to get him. He would be the franchise’s all-time leader with a .360 batting average, so if you didn’t know by name, that should explain how much they gave up. Brodie hit .283 with 74 RBIs in 142 games for the Pirates. He was released during the 1898 season due to financial reasons. While modern day stats seem to disagree, giving him a career -3.9 WAR for his defense, Brodie was widely considered to be one of the best defensive center fielders of his time.

  • Looks like the pirates have to move out of the central division in order to win a division. They can beat the cards but can not handle the Reds or Brewers. These two teams are crap and the Pirates seem to be wiping their butts clean.

  • Off topic but a great article about Kang from Hardball Times.

    • Good read thanks. I think Kang has some owners in the KBO worried a lot of dudes are jumping ship soon. Should be interesting.

      • Thanks I enjoyed the read. I like the well rounded and broad based knowledge of the people that post on this site. My sense of humor borders on eclectic nostalgia but I really enjoy the posts.

    • Nice article. Thanks for the link.

  • Again with Liz. He doesn’t like to come in as a reliever but they keep on insisting to use him in this relief role. Look at his results.

    • He drives me nuts too. Similar to Morton, the stuff can be electric at times. But when its not, a four alarm disaster is imminent. I was mad about last night, cause I had been pimping him on here yesterday morning.

    • I have beaten that horse to death. Apparently no one in Pittsburgh are seeing what we are seeing.

  • We’re due against Nelson right?

    • Without looking I think they’ve beat him once but he’s usually got our number. I don’t know what it is about him but the hitters seem to guess offspeed when a FB comes and vice versa.

  • I wish we had FOUR ACES HEADED TO THE MOUND. Morton needs to come up big time tonight because of the sloppy play last night. Apparently Liz isn’t an answer but Worley probably was. This is an utter travesty that they cannot beat the Brewers.

  • Jake Stenzel was a heckuva ballplayer. Mr Brodie? Meh.