Morning Report: Indianapolis Leads the League in Pitching Thanks to Top Prospects

It’s probably a good thing for Trevor Williams that he isn’t pitching right now. Okay maybe not good, but he would need to be pitching pretty well lately to keep up with the other four prospect starters for Indianapolis. Early on, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault are putting up some impressive numbers. They are even better when you look at just their last start each:

Brault 5 IP 0 R 9 K

Taillon 6 IP 0 R 6 K

Kuhl 5 IP 1 R 6 K

Glasnow 6 IP 0 R 11 K

If you’re not scoring at home, that is a total of 22 innings, with one run and 32 strikeouts. The most interesting part about those starts is that Glasnow was the only one who looked like he was at his best. Taillon left his fastball up and the curve wasn’t sharp. Kuhl and Brault ran up their pitch counts and limited their outings to five innings.

That success from the starters has carried over into the team pitching stats, where Indianapolis leads the league with a 2.30 ERA. It actually has them 57 points ahead of the second best team in the league in ERA. The difference between Indianapolis and the second best team, is actually bigger than that between the second best team and the eighth best team in ERA. Indianapolis also leads the league with a 1.11 WHIP, nine points better than the next best team.

When you look at offense, Indianapolis is second in hitting with a .739 OPS. The top two teams are actually well ahead of the others, as no other team has a .700 OPS. The offense shouldn’t be a surprise with all the quality players in the lineup. What might be a surprise is that Indianapolis isn’t in first place. Columbus is actually a half game better than them despite being seventh in ERA and ninth in OPS. They have scored the same amount of runs (59) they have allowed, yet they have an 11-7 record. Indianapolis has scored 79 runs and allowed 42, leading to a 10-7 record. What that basically tells you is that it is still very early in the season.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 9-4 over the Rockies on Tuesday night. Jon Niese will get the start today, his fifth of the season. He struggled a bit in his last start despite picking up the win. Niese allowed four runs on ten hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. The Rockies will counter with Jon Gray, who has made one start this season. He allowed five runs over five innings at home against the Dodgers last week, though he did pick up ten strikeouts.

In the minors, Mitch Keller will get the early start for West Virginia, but not before they complete yesterday’s game, which was suspended in the third inning. That game will go nine innings, followed by Wednesday’s regularly scheduled game, which is now seven innings. Keller will make his fourth start, coming off his second outing in which he threw five shutout innings with ten strikeouts. He has allowed seven base runners in 15 shutout innings this season.

For Indianapolis, Steven Brault tries to build off a solid start last week in which he threw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts. He has had some issues with high pitch counts in each game, going a total of 13.2 innings in three starts.

For Bradenton, Austin Coley will make his fourth start. He began the year with two poor outings in which he had some control issues. He turned things around in his last start, allowing one run over five innings while not walking a batter.

MLB: Pittsburgh (12-9) @ Rockies (9-11) 8:40 PM
Probable starter: Jon Niese (4.24 ERA, 7:17 BB/SO, 23.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (10-7) @ Norfolk (6-13) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.63 ERA, 7:14 BB/SO, 13.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (9-10) vs Erie (9-10) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: David Whitehead (3.21 ERA, 13:11 BB/SO, 14.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (8-11) vs Palm Beach (11-8) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (6.92 ERA, 5:11 BB/SO, 13.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (14-4) vs Rome (5-13) 10:35 AM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:23 BB/SO, 15.0 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is Jameson Taillon’s sixth/last strikeout from his start on Saturday

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

4/25: Pedro Florimon added to Indianapolis roster. Antoan Richardson released.

4/25: Austin Meadows added to Altoona roster. Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.

4/25: Jake Burnette placed on disabled list. Logan Ratledge assigned to West Virginia.

4/22: Pirates recall Jason Rogers. Cole Figueroa optioned to Indianapolis.

4/21: Pirates release Michael Morse.

4/21: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

4/21: Cory Luebke assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.

4/18: Jung-ho Kang assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/16: Trevor Williams placed on disabled list. Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.

4/15: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan added to Altoona roster.

4/14: Cory Luebke placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Rob Scahill.

4/14: Pirates sign Justin Masterson.

4/14: Chad Kuhl assigned to Indianapolis.

4/13: Michael Morse designated for assignment. Pirates select contract of A.J. Schugel.

4/13: West Virginia places Cesilio Pimentel on disabled list. Eric Karch added to roster.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

One former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date, pitcher Paul Miller, who played for the Pirates from 1991 until 1993. He was a member of two playoff teams, though he never pitched in the postseason. Miller was drafted in the 53rd round and was one of the rare players drafted that late to make the majors. He played parts of three seasons, yet only got into a total of ten games. He threw 26.1 innings and had a 4.10 ERA.

On April 27, 1993, the Pirates beat the Braves by a 6-2 score in 11 innings and pitcher Tim Wakefield threw a staggering total of 172 pitches in the game. He pitched into the 11th and needed Paul Wagner to help him close out the game.

Exactly 100 years earlier, the Pirates opened up their season at home against Cy Young and lost 7-2 in front of a crowd of almost 5,000 fans. You can find descriptions of each game in the link above, along with the 1893 lineup, each of whom has a link to their bio under their name.

100 years ago today, the Pirates and Reds were rained out at Forbes Field, which benefited both teams. The game was set to begin at 3:30 PM and the Reds arrived into town via train at 3:00 PM. The Pirates had multiple injuries and illnesses and were set to play with Otto Knabe, who wasn’t under contract yet, Jimmy Smith, who played just one game up to that point, and possibly a pitcher in the outfield. Roster limits were 21 players at that time, and the Pirates had to release pitcher Harry Moran earlier that day to get down to the limit. Moran never played for the Pirates, though he was around for the first two weeks of the season.

  • Anyone else concerned that Niese might give up 5-7 homers tonight in Coors?

    • Isn’t that what we all thought about Locke?

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      April 28, 2016 12:37 am

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  • UPDATE: Mr. Charlie Morton done for the season! TORN hamstring! Phew! Get well Charlie!

  • Sorry, NMR….I tried to reply, but it says “You must authenticate the user or provide author_name and author_email.” BTW, that’s not the 1st time that’s happened to me. Tim?

    • Happened twice to me, last time about a week ago, I just reloaded the page and it was fine. I would say it’s just a Disqus error message

  • One comment about Cole last night and the implication for Glasnow. During his struggling 4th inning Cole went head-to-head against two really good hitters in CarGo and Arenado and how did he attack them? He moved his fastball in and out and up and down and attacked them with his best–a dominant 95-98mph fastball. How many pitches in a row? At one point I counted 19 straight fastballs in that inning. Incredible quite honestly.

    How does that apply to Glasnow? I do not think that we can/should expect the same dominant fastball from Glasnow as we get from Cole. I do not think that we could expect him to throw 18-19 straight 96+ fastballs…BUT if he can get to the point where he CAN locate his fastball like Cole was last night–working in and out and up and down–I think he can find success right away. He might not pitch like a TOR starter right away but as Cole showed last night a dominant fastball can be HUGE…getting out two of the tougher hitters in baseball right now with all fastballs, even when they knew it was coming!

    • Only thing id quip with here is that Cole is able to do that more effectively because hitters do respect the other stuff he has.

      You throw a good curve and decent change up enough, and you can throw that high quality fastball a good bit and not get dinged. But if hitters dont respect that other stuff, they’ll sit on that FB more often.

      Seems like thats where Glasnow can certainly be if he gets control more consistent and forces hitters to respect the overall stuff enough to let the FB play that well.

      • Eric Marshall
        April 27, 2016 1:20 pm

        Personally i believe all the mantra about needing to be better is wrong. Cole was NOWHERE near as dominant in any minor league level to what we are seeing from Glasnow or recently from Tallion. Cole’s fastball has been hittable since college. He learned his change up in the big leagues per se. I think both will see moderate success this year in the burgh and think their upside is better than Cole.

        • I think there is some truth to this. I think that the fact that Glasnow has come in and been incredibly dominant in the minors is really impressive–especially compared to some other top prospects. However, how much of that was because other top prospects were willing to forego results for development?

          With that said just like Cole…Glasnow WILL learn in the Majors and be forced to, in Hurdle’s words, “punch back”

    • David Todd was counting those consecutive FBs on Twitter too. I really don’t know if I buy the whole “you have to have 3 pitches at the ML level” narrative. It seems to me that plenty of guys get by with 2 pitches, covering the range from average to pretty good overall pitchers. I’m sure it will help, and I’m actually all in favor of it, but I think its mostly an excuse to cover some other reasons they don’t want him up right now.

      • As was discussed a few days ago:

        There is a difference between throwing 2 pitches the majority of the time and “not having” 3 pitches. Guys with 3 pitches that are average or better often lean on the 2 best pitches, but that 3rd pitch thrown 5-7% of the time can make those 2 better pitches really good, as opposed to good.

        Better have good control with only 2 pitches.

        • There’s also inherently a good bit of survival bias at play here.

          Mike isn’t wrong, there certainly *are* big league starters who get by, some very successfully, with legitimately only having two pitches.

          But what you don’t see are the starters who don’t, because they’re called relievers. And there’s many, many multiple times more of those guys than the successful ones.

          Just about any outlier will look more attractive when you’re only focusing on the ones who succeed.

          • In all fairness to Glasnow, though, he HAS been a starter and has been more dominant than almost any other minor league starter during his time in the minors…so, sure, he could not develop better control or another pitch and end up being a reliever–probably a HELL of a good one–but giving him the benefit of the doubt if you were going to bet on one making it then you would bet on Glasnow. And I still think he needs more development–as you know NMR–I am just reiterating the other argument.

    • I wish Cole would work up the ladder more often. The AB vs Adames in the 5th was a good example. Cole stayed low on both corners yet Adames fouled off five pitches before walking. IMO, a good letter high heater on the 3-2 count would’ve had him. The next batter was Cargo and indeed Cole did fan him on the 7th pitch with a high hard one.

      • Absolutely agree; this is the one flaw in the “Pirates Way”, IMO. Seemingly having pitchers throw everything down not only reduces strikeout potential but also limits the amount a hitter has to change eye level.

        • AND to add to that, there are some pitchers who are just going to be “strike-out” pitchers and when you have then constantly throwing low you increase their pitch count and still do not get the strikeout numbers.

    • Hell, if Glasnow could command his fastball in all four quadrants as well as Cole, not only would the pitch itself clearly be superior to Cole’s but I don’t think Glasnow would even need the changeup.

      The plane and extension he gets on the pitch is just stupid.

      • I agree with this. If he can command even 3 of the 4 quadrants he’s going to be very good. Although, I think once he arrives I think other pitchers will help him too. I think Liriano and Cole both would give him tips and talk to him and I think you WOULD see him develop his changeup better and, maybe, develop a slider. Could you imagine Glasnow with a wipe-out slider?

  • Morning Report: Indianapolis Leads the League in Pitching Thanks to Top Prospects… Are we surprised by this?
    I don’t think so.

  • West Virginia start time has been pushed back to 12:05 for those wondering where today’s Prospect Watch article is at. It will go live once the first game starts

  • The encouraging thing is that this offense seems very sustainable and consistent so for the call to the bullpen is becoming the biggest concern.
    Who is the long-term fit in the pen ? Shark and Watson are in, and Feliz is in. Hughes if gets settled is in but Luebke, Lobstein, Vogelsong, and maybe Caminero out?
    So who’s in? Kuhl is in with his 97mph power sink. Haley has been throwing 98… Ok Caminero is in but he needs that 100 in the zone wildthing!
    So we need a big Lefty power bullpen arm and this is where the trade comes in as we reach out to the Tigers for old friend Justin Wilson.

    • Good basis for a PP article I hope Tim publishes soon.

      There’s no “closer-in-waiting” as there has been in past years. We pretty much know MM is gone after this year and I have doubts Watson will simply step into that role.

      With Taillon and Glasnow all but assured of rotation spots along with Cole, Liriano and Niese, what’s the best role for Brault and Kuhl? Should either/both be being groomed as late inning relief? If so, when/how does that start to happen?

    • When Hughes returns and Nicasio goes back to the pen to replace Vogie, a lefty is all we need but to see Justin Wilson get traded twice in one year is hard to see. Detroit will have to flop again come trade deadline and I don’t see that happening but I will cross my fingers that they do. No matter what, NH will be trading for a stud LH reliever come June/July bc Luebke & Lobstein won’t cut the mustard.

  • Tim Michelin F2 account has also been hacked spamming me in the comment section if anyone gets spam from my account it won’t be me sending it

  • Man, these Bucs are raking right now. If Cutch keeps it going and Kang comes back, as long as the pitching is serviceable, this team could get really hot.

    • I’m starting to yearn a bit for actual good baseball, but it’s never not fun watching your favorite club beat up on bad teams. That seems to be the story in the NL this year. Bucs play the Cubs & Cards nine times in 15 days to start May, but you have to go to June before they really start playing good teams consistently.

      • If they could beat the Padres and Reds, that would help.

        • This is probably the rare year where it makes sense to adjust win prediction based on competition. No reason this club shouldn’t win 90 with as many times as they play the bottom six teams.

          • They’ve also owned the Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Nats in recent years. Hopefully, they can be competitive against the Cubs and I really feel like they’ve passed the Cards for good.

            • Diaz and Hazelbaker getting this year’s supply of Cardinal magic dust makes them a better club than they showed that first series of the year, but I still think the Pirates are the better team.

              • Yeah, what’s with that? It always seems like it’s the same type of guy too.

              • Throw Piscotty in there too although he was expected to be good.

              • That really depends on what sort of boost their soon to be rookies can give the pitching staff after June.

          • Changing your stance a bit, eh NMR…..Thought you were pretty steadfast over the winter on this being a “bridge” year, with the team hovering around .500, but it will be fun once the prospects come up.

            • Nah, I’m still there (although I predicted 86 wins, I believe). I just didn’t assume off the bat that the NL would be as lopsided as it is, and frankly how it looked to be even back then.

              My “bridge” comments were always about expectations; the goal of winning the division was stated by the team, for years now, and they simply did not make the kind of moves – particularly in the rotation – needed to compete with the Cubs. That has played out, so far, exactly as expected. This was always going to be a decent club.

              • Do you think that Taillon or Glasnow can come up and do what Syndergaard and Matz did? To me that is the one chance we have of winning the division….If we get consistent pitching we have a shot. This offense is really good and will continue to get better.

                • If one of Taillon/Glasnow come up and do a Wacha/Syndergaard impersonation things will get real fun real fast.

                  Still not sure if thats enough to clearly vault us over CHC, but that’d be fun.

                  • I agree Luke S. I remain cautiously optimistic that at least one of Taillon/Glasnow will come up at some point and make a SIGNIFICANT contribution. Without that happening, I don’t think we have enough to challenge for the Central Division title, and probably not even another w.c. berth. It is a long season, and as Syd Thrift once said, “time will tell, it always does.”

                • No, for me it’s health.

                  The Cubs have already lost a significant starting position player but still look to be about exactly as good as everyone expected them to be. I don’t see any logical reason for that not to continue, other than additional major injuries.

                  One of Taillon or Glasnow pulling a Syndergaard/Matz still doesn’t pull the Pirates rotation even with the Cubs, and that’s assuming Liriano figures it out. If *both* of those guys come up guns blazing *and* Liriano & Cole pitch like 1s & 2s without missing significant time, then the Pirates have an outside shot.

                  • Perhaps you’re giving Hammel and Hendricks too much credit.

                    • Perhaps you haven’t noticed how good they actually are.

                      You realize both, right now, are as good or better than the peak-Jon Niese Pirate fans are *hoping* to get back, right?

                    • Perhaps you forgot that it’s APRIL and Hammel seems to struggle the 2nd half of every year.

                      For what it’s worth Niese has done much better than you said he would…..Again, it’s April

                    • Haha, Niese has done what now?

                    • Exceeded your expectations. Pretty sure you called him Jeff Locke 2.0

                    • And that’s more or less what he’s been, a back end starter.

                      (Locke’s current FUBAR’d state not withstanding, of course)

                    • I think we can live with Niese as the 5th starter with JT & TG in the rotation, if they live up to expectations. I think you could do a lot worse than Jon Niese as a 5th starter.

                  • Rizzo hitting .205 and having 22 rbi in 20 games is a scary thing. I see the potential for 135-140 rbi there.

                    • 138 wRC+ while only posting a .135 BABIP?! Bryant and Russell also cutting 10% off their K-rates also sucks, for Pirates fans.

                    • It’s unbelievable what the Cubs offense has done. It’s amazing how many LOB can be eliminated when you hit a few timely HR. Cubs can pitch too. I was looking at the pirates’ pitching stats just now and thinking “This at least should be as bad as they get.” Hopefully if the bullpen and Liriano stabilize and Cole really gets it rolling it will fix most of the issues because the Pirates can’t continue to put up a .378 obp all year. Even with Cutch on fire.

                  • Their starting rotation has been over the top, even for them, and due for regression. Should be a lot of fun to see how the Cubs and Pirates compete head to head.

              • The relative not great start from teams like NYM and SFG do tend to shift how we should/could/can see this year.

                We have hit our way through April and barely survived above water….and we are not all that out of anything.

                • No team is “out” of anything in April, but try coming up with a logical way the Pirates catch the Cubs.

                  • Arrieta gets injured…just does not seem likely with the fact that he has almost no innings on his arm over his career.

                    • At this point, he has to be the greatest “reclamation project” of all time. Just insane.

                  • Right, but that has about as much to do with the Cubs just being loaded as us being deficient. Add J.A. Happ to us and I still see real issues with anyone going “we are better than the Cubs”. PGH could be better, but im not convinced they could be CHC better by adding only 1-2 guys.

                    The Cubs are deep in many areas, and without clear faults. It’ll be fun watching them lose in the playoffs….because Cubs.

                  • I totally get your point, but try and find a logical way at the beginning of last May that this team would’ve finished the year with 98 wins.

            • Sold their damn souls to the devil, my friend.

      • Billy Stewart the deceased WVU coach “A win is a win”

      • Yeah, they can’t afford to limp into June like they’ve been know to do. They need to go in at least 6-8 games over .500.

  • With the home run balls that Niese is noted for and being at Coors Field, I guess the headlines reading tonight will be “Watch for Falling Rocks”.

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