NEW YORK – Right after Curtis Granderson hit a lead off home run tonight, I clicked over to Baseball-Reference to see the last time the Pirates were below .500 this late in the season. It didn’t take long to find that team. The 88 win 2014 Pirates were 34-35 on June 16th, and didn’t get above .500 for good until June 26th.

I pointed this out on Twitter, and one of the responses was that the rotation in 2014 was much better than this group. That’s true if you compare the full season results in 2014 to the current results this year. But looking deeper at the rotation, that pitching staff had almost identical problems to the group this year.

Let’s start with Francisco Liriano. He had a 4.60 ERA through the middle of June in 72.1 innings, with a 4.5 BB/9 before going on the disabled list. This year he has a 4.92 ERA and a 5.45 BB/9, although there’s no sign that he will go on the DL.

Liriano returned from the disabled list in 2014 and put up a 2.40 ERA in 90 innings the remainder of the season.

Then there’s Gerrit Cole. He didn’t have bad numbers, with a 3.64 ERA in early June. He did go on the disabled list twice, and had a 3.44 ERA in 52.1 innings after he returned in late August. Cole is once again on the DL in mid-June, and hopefully the Pirates don’t rush him back like they did that year, as he’s been their only good pitcher.

That 2014 group had Jeff Locke, who actually didn’t look bad by mid-June, but had only made three starts due to injuries. They had Charlie Morton, who was pretty consistent throughout the year, only to struggle down the stretch. Edinson Volquez was a breakout guy, but didn’t really break out until the second half, with a 4.67 ERA after his start on June 18th. He had a 1.85 ERA in 111.2 innings after that. Vance Worley also came up and put up a 2.85 ERA from the middle of June to the end of the season.

The current back of the rotation has Jon Niese the closest to the Morton role, at least if you consider his results in the last month. Locke has been much worse this year. Nicasio was the hopeful breakout guy, but tonight’s start was more of a sign that he is better suited for the bullpen. And Jameson Taillon just came up, and it would be amazing if he could do what Worley did in 2014.

That 2014 group showed what the Pirates need in the second half, and it’s not a mystery. They need much better results from everyone. More importantly, the 2014 group showed it’s not impossible for guys to turn things around mid-season, after struggling early. But I don’t think we can bank on that happening with every Pirates starter this year.

You hope that this happens again with Francisco Liriano, since there’s honestly no way the Pirates give up on him as a starter at this point. You also hope that Cole returns and does well, and manages to improve his xFIP results. And as mentioned above, if Taillon can put up strong numbers the rest of the year, that would give the Pirates a big boost. The key here is Liriano turning things around. Hopefully his last outing (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) was a sign of things to come.

I think Jon Niese could be a good starter down the stretch. His last start was bad, but even with that start, he had a 3.56 ERA and a 3.69 xFIP in his previous month. If he can continue putting up those numbers the rest of the season, the Pirates will be fine with his spot.

The problem area is with Locke and Nicasio. No matter where you fall on the “Which one should be removed from the rotation when Cole returns” argument, I think the clear answer is that both need to be replaced. The odds that one of them turns it around in the second half like some of the 2014 pitchers seems very slim.

Only one issue here: the Pirates don’t have anyone ready to step up and replace them. Chad Kuhl looked good for most of the season, but struggled in his most recent outings. Brian Peloza wrote about what has been going wrong for him lately in last night’s Prospect Watch. He has given up 12 earned runs and 24 hits in 13 innings over his last three starts.

Then there’s Tyler Glasnow, the center of a very divisive argument. Glasnow has an impressive ERA and strikeout total in Triple-A. The key there is that it is in Triple-A. There’s no guarantee that Glasnow will put up those numbers in the majors. In fact, it seems very unlikely that he will do that.

Glasnow currently needs to work on his changeup, because the pitch is very inconsistent. He also needs to throw his curveball for strikes early in the count. And he needs better command of his fastball, with his recent struggles leading to 11 walks in 15 innings.

Here is the problem with that combined package. Glasnow can’t throw the fastball for consistent strikes, leading to him getting behind. He can’t throw the curveball consistent for strikes to help bail him out, making the pitch only effective as a strikeout option. And he doesn’t have a changeup to fall back on. I see it mentioned all the time that guys like A.J. Burnett get by with two pitches and don’t need the changeup, but those guys could throw their breaking pitch for strikes.

Look at what Jameson Taillon has done so far in the big leagues. He’s been able to use his curveball early in counts, and late. He’s pitching off the fastball early and often, but he does have the ability to throw that curve for an early strike, or to help bring him back. Glasnow either needs to start doing that with his curveball, or he needs to improve the changeup. Otherwise, I think we could just see what we’re seeing from Nicasio — outstanding results when the fastball command is on, but when it’s off, he turns too much to his breaking pitch because he doesn’t have a good changeup, and the breaking pitch isn’t consistent enough to be used that often successfully.

The next argument is that Glasnow might not be ready, but that he would be better than Locke and Nicasio. This might be true. I say “might”, because it’s not a guarantee. Jose Berrios put up a great ERA and a lot of strikeouts in Triple-A, along with some control problems, only to absolutely bomb in the majors. Sean Manaea did the same thing, and he didn’t even have the control problems. I think there are two mistakes in play here. One is assuming strong results in Triple-A will automatically lead to certain success in the majors. The other is looking at prospect status, and thinking this means a player is ready whenever he gets close to the majors, without realizing that prospect status is all about long-term potential, and not immediate impact.

That’s the biggest issue here. For some reason, Triple-A is now viewed as this holding ground for top prospects until mid-June rolls around and teams can save money. No development is actually done at the level. Players just need to put in X amount of months and they’re ready to get called up and dominate, and if teams weren’t so cheap, players could get called up earlier with the same success.

I’m not a guy who is going to bullshit you on Super Two. It’s my job to give you honest opinions on players. I said Gregory Polanco didn’t look ready in 2014, and he wasn’t ready. I said Jameson Taillon looked ready a month ago, despite the Pirates saying he had things to work on. So why would I not be honest about Glasnow? We actually see the players. Last year this site spent $45,000 on live coverage of the system. Why would we do that to get the story behind the numbers, and then just ignore that story if it isn’t as feel-good as the numbers suggest?

As someone who has been following Glasnow closely for a long time, and has been looking forward to him arriving in the big leagues, I really want him to be ready. But he’s just not. He’s 22 years old, and in Triple-A. That’s a development level, where you get guys ready for the majors. Glasnow isn’t ready, and so he needs more time at the level to develop. He’s only 22, so it’s not a bad thing for him to get more work at the level right now.

If you look around baseball, you’ll see teams like the Orioles and the Tigers who constantly rush top pitching prospects to the majors, even if there are obvious flaws in their games. Those pitchers either never realize their potential, or they take several years to get there. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s also why the “Glasnow might not be ready, but he is better than Locke/Nicasio” argument is a bad one. Yes, he might be better, but that’s a low bar to set. And calling him up now might get you a small upgrade, but it might also hurt his development for the long-term. That’s what is at play here. Do you upgrade Nicasio/Locke to a small amount, while possibly sacrificing the best long-term arm this system has? The answer for me is “NO” every single time.

That still leaves the problem of the Pirates needing to replace Nicasio and Locke. There’s still time for Glasnow or Kuhl to get things figured out. Looking back a few years ago, Starling Marte was in a similar situation, where he was too inconsistent in June when Super Two passed, but was ready to come up in late-July after showing a lot of improvements in his final month. You hope that’s the case with the starters this year. Otherwise, the Pirates will need a trade to upgrade that final spot.

Of course, if Liriano doesn’t turn it around, and if Cole doesn’t return soon while healthy and productive, and if Niese doesn’t keep pitching like he has the last month, and if Taillon doesn’t have a successful debut, then it really won’t matter if it’s Locke or Nicasio or Glasnow or Kuhl or a trade in that final spot. The Pirates need a lot to go right in the second half with this rotation, and with the prospects who could potentially join them from Indianapolis.

**Pirates Prospects Job Openings in Morgantown and Bristol. We are looking for writers in Morgantown and Bristol this year.

**I’m heading to Chicago in the morning to cover the Pirates for their three game weekend series. I’ll also have an article on Jameson Taillon in the morning.

**Nicasio Struggles, But McCutchen Shows Positive Signs in Pirates Loss. I talked with Juan Nicasio about what went wrong tonight, and talked with Andrew McCutchen about what went right.

**Injury Updates: Starling Marte and Chris Stewart Out of the Lineup Tonight. The latest injury updates on Stewart and Marte.

**Prospect Watch: Garcia Throws Shutout Ball, Big Day From Newman in Bradenton Win. A good day throughout the system, also featuring home runs from Austin Meadows and Tito Polo, and a great outing from Clay Holmes.

**Draft signing news from the last two nights. Don’t forget to follow the Draft Pick Signing Tracker for all of the up-to-date bonus info.

**Minor Moves: Hughston Returns to West Virginia, Roth Sent to Morgantown. A few minor moves in the lower levels today.

**Austin Meadows Sets Curve Franchise Record; Starts Getting Work in Left Field. Sean McCool looks at the hitting streak from Austin Meadows (which was extended with a first inning home run tonight), and why he is moving to the corner outfield spots.

**Max Moroff Trying to Overcome Early Season Struggles. Brian Peloza looks at the inconsistent play from Max Moroff this season.

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162 COMMENTS

  1. Free Glasnow.
    Taillon’s latest start had him throwing something like 18 out of first 20 fastballs. A major league catcher went with what was working and didn’t force him to throw change ups for “his development.”
    Bring up the 6’8″ beast with the heat.

  2. For Glasnow, why not consider more seriously that he might benefit from a few months in the Pirate bullpen? They certainly could use his arm, and it would mean fewer innings than if he were to start the rest of the year.

    I mention this in part because bringing up good arms who are destined to become starters in the big leagues and making those arms learn on the job as relievers is the model the Cardinals use very successfully. Even Adam Wainwright followed this model. It’s also been the path of Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn. All of those guys broke in as bullpen help.

    And last I checked, the Cardinals were developing their players pretty darn well.

  3. Crazy how expectations have changed. We should be happy we just had 3 good playoff seasons. Not many teams can do that. Unfortunately all teams have years where they take a step back. Many teams spend a ton of money and still do not do well. Not writing off the season this year by any means.

    Looking forward to a great second half with contributions from taillon glasnow and Kuhl.

  4. So we now can keep Glasnow and Bell and Kuhl at AAA and get those wonderful years of control…

    Trade Melancon and Joyce at the trade deadline – or sooner if the price is right

    Bad strategy and bad execution – but nobody will be held accountable

  5. 3 wild card playoffs. Bucs don’t have the cash to spend to bring in a top number 1 or 2 arm. Pitching costs have excelerated beyond the Pirates budget. NH simply didn’t have the room to add a good arm. That is on baseball economics and the Pirates market. NH had to trade Morton to make things work. Nh has done a good job with the bench and I was not in the extend Cervelli due to injury history and letting the market determine his worth. Catcher D is important but not sold on his bat anymore. Way to many singles and bloops for me. Tallion, eventually Glasnow are the future and are cheap and have big upside. Cole Tallion and Glasnow with a decent 4th will be good with the cash to deepen the staff and possibly bull pen.

  6. What do you mean!?! The Pirates have always had a solid plan. Why a sane person would question them, I’ll never know. It would be CRAZY for the Pirates to pay fair market value for pitchers. They didn’t last year and they won 98 games. Searage has magic pixy dust that turns shitty pitchers into all stars, don’t ya know. I mean did I mention that last year they won 98 games! Liriano has NEVER been inconsistent and Cole NEVER has been injured. I’m sure Nicasso Locke and Vogelsong will be just fine until the kids are ready. You betcha. Did I mention that last year they won 98 games?!?

  7. Regarding today’s Pirates-Cubs game – totally non-competitive as most of them have been this year…behind closed doors, the Cubs have to be laughing at the Pirates….
    Now, other than Arietta, who hurt the Pirates the most today? Young prospects that the Cubs have been bringing up over the past 2-3 years, including a very recent call-up – Sczur, Amora, Russell, and Baez.
    Liriano walked 5 more batters today – maybe he isn’t a “finished product” and needs to go back to Indy and work on his control?
    We are now officially a losing team again….with no end in sight, because the pitching staff is still what it is…..Liriano stunk today – and Caminero was his usual self imploding self. Maybe the Pirates need to stop emphasizing velocity, and focus more on guys who know how to pitch?
    Right now, Arietta vs. the Pirates is like a major league pitcher facing a junior college team – it is not even competitive….embarrassing….
    Hey Neal – the season is getting away from you, you might want to try something different. Like, actually using your farm system and make some call ups and some DFAs or demotions? How can it hurt? bring up Glasnow, Kuhl or Neverauskas,, Stallings, Lakind, Frazier, and possibly Bell – and actually play them some – see what happens. Scrap SRod, Kratz, Scahill, Luebke – move Locke and Nicasio to the pen for now. It can’t hurt, maybe it will create a spark….

    • Oh, I don’t think the Cubs have to be behind closed doors to be laughing at the Bucs. Haven’t read anyfurther, but has there been discussion about Cutch not running all out to first a couple of times?
      Very much agree about the over emphasis on velocity among pitchers.

    • Arietta vs any team has been like a MLB pitcher against a junior college team. Not saying the buccos are fine, as they *bleeping* suck but Arietta is in a different world right now.

  8. Looks like you hit a nerve. U must realize we are seeing the ship sinking and are willing to do whatever to change it around. Neil blew the offseason by not addressing the rotation with competent replacements. He let Vosquez walk and he should have signed him; cost was not prohibitive, then he let Happ walk. I guess he thought that JT, Glas and Kuhl would be ready to help but only one seems like he can help at this time. Now watch him trade away very good prospects to try to get the Bucs back in the race. Its a long season ahead but I regretfully seeing it slip away.

      • There’s no chance of that, in my opinion. Pirates will either be sellers at the deadline or they will stand pat. I think they know they are more than a trade or two away from contending this year. I think they are more likely to try to put together a real team next year

  9. I hear the argument for Glasnow He can’t locate his fastball or curve and has a lousy change up. My question is how come NOBODY has sniff him all though his development. If he is this bad I would think he would have a high K rate with a high ERA and OBP yet thats not he case. Is it possible that we could bring him up to pitch in the majors, if he gets wacked like so many want to believe he goes back down with direct proof that he has something to work on. Maybe he goes up and he still gets guys out like he has done all through out his career. Maybe he even helps the team. At this point he can only be as bad as Nicasio and Locke. I do not subscribe to the idea he should be polished when he gets here. I also do not believe his change up will improve vastly this year whether its in Indy or Pitts. Feel pitches take time and its usually months and years not weeks. So unless we intend to wait another year (which I would not put it past this management team to save money and add control), I really do not see how letting him taste the majors can hurt long term or short term (look at the Cubs they just brought up a hot shot catcher that they are supposedly going to send back down in two weeks just so he can get a taste of the big leagues and make him less nervous the next time he comes up). If nothing else why not do that with Glasnow while Cole rehabs?

  10. well with current pitching issues, I’m in the the walk up to buy a ticket crowd. will not pay to see locke, niece and nicasio.

  11. Thanks, Tim. Very reasonable assessment. As some have mentioned, the Bucs could trade some minor league talent for a starter—but you suggest that they can’t acquire a true, front line starter for their minor league talent IF they are committed to keeping Glasnow and Meadows. Now, I know that Meadows is the next Joe DiMaggio and that the Pirates should not trade him… but… what could they get for him right now?

      • Could they get Jose Fernandez for Meadows and a couple other top 100 prospects? Just wondering.

        • I really would not know. I tend to have an irrational attachment to prospects. I was definitely opposed to trading Polanco and Marte when some were suggesting those kind of moves for players that would now be gone to free agency. Meadows really looks like he could be the second coming of Dimagio. Hopefully Joe and not one of his brothers.

  12. Very good article and discussion. The fact that we’re discussing bringing up partially baked pitchers from AAA to help a team that aspires to contend for the division says that the off-season plan of the front office was a failure — perhaps ill-conceived from the get go. I think everyone early on though we didn’t have adequate starting pitching. Everything basically had to go right for the plan to work. Although Cole/Liriano can rebound, that still leaves us short. The GM has been very good in many respects but he consistently “short arms” money to pitchers that we’d love to have right now — Volquez, Happ. Those guys aren’t world-beaters but they performed for the Bucs and would be material improvements over Locke and Nicasio. Woulda coulda that we would have kept one or both of those guys, we’d look solid. Now we’re facing the potential of having to deal prospects for a pitcher when we could have just spent money that was apparently there to spend. It’s too bad. The GM might want to visit with Rutherford a bit and get some inspiration to make bolder moves when he has such solid talent at the major league level to win now. The Cubs and Cards aren’t going away anytime soon. Time to stop nibbling around the edges with fringy pitchers for starters and bullpen. Otherwise, let’s get used to fighting for the #2 wildcard spot year after year. That’s not so bad given the prior 20 years but still very frustrating

  13. Remember, I am no expert, but should we give Boscan a
    start or two just to maybe give the starters a little extra rest
    and hopefully until other young guys can get it together?

    I don’t know, when you are desperate you suggest
    just about anything. Or do we just give Glasnow a
    try to see if his adrenalin kicks in and he pitches the
    game of his lifetime?

  14. I have discussed this more times than I care to remember, but let me just leave a few comments:
    (1) Yes, Glasnow is clearly not a finished product – but as I have stated before, no young pitcher when called up to the majors is a finished product. Are Locke and Nicasio finished products, whatever that really means?
    (2) He’s not replacing Tom Seaver or Jon Matlack. The status quo is not acceptable, and should not have been allowed to continue as long as it has. We have two starters with ERAs close to 6.00!
    (3) No one is guaranteed success in making the transition to the majors – but is that a reason to not promote someone? If Glasnow is not ultimately successful, a lot of scouts and experts blew it – who all have him rated in the top 10-20 prospects in baseball. So, I think the odds are good. Its not likely that he won’t be an improvement over Locke, Nicasio, or Niese for that matter – who, I don’t have confidence that he will pitch to a 3.50 ERA for the rest of the season. He has only done that once in his career…..and he’s not a kid. He is what he is.

    • 1. Keller isn’t a finished product. Do you bring him up? No. The reason is he has development to do in the minors before he’s ready to finish his development in the majors. It’s no different for Glasnow. This argument of yours applies to someone like Taillon.
      2. Read the article about a low bar.
      3. Prospect rankings are based on long term impact, not being ready when you need them.

      • Are we really going to compare Keller and Glasnow? Someone in Low A with someone in AAA?
        What is a “finished product”, when it comes to young pitchers? Are you suggesting that their development stops and does not need to continue once they reach this “finished product” status?
        Are Locke, Nicasio, and Niese “finished products”?

        • It’s an extreme example to get my point across. You wouldn’t say that about Keller. Glasnow is closer, but he’s in the same boat of not being ready.

          I don’t really look at anyone as a “finished product”. I just look at whether they’re ready for the next step.

  15. Got a comparison question for you Tim or anyone else on staff. Not taking into consideration styles or careers at their same point in their careers compare prospect of what we thought or think they could be with Kuhl and Rudy Owens. Is it Owens > Kuhl as a triple A pitcher same time. Just thinking a few weeks ago we were saying bring Kuhl up and it will help but it is still a question mark even then?

  16. Hey whatever happened to that guy who always posted in the third person. (Jimmy? or was that on Seinfeld) His Credit Card must of been rejected.

  17. Sometimes when I read the “Anyone is better than Locke or Nicasio” (including Boscan, Schugel, et al) it reminds me of my (much) younger days.

    Kinda like those old “2 AM in the bar” debates? “C’mon, she’s not THAT bad looking, is she?”

    The old “She’s a 4 bourbon girl” jokes come to mind. (of course, we were 5 Shirley Temple guys, but I won’t go there).

  18. Certainly agree that Nicasio and Locke aren’t rotation worthy, but I’m not sure I’d be much more comfortable with Nicasio in the pen. His lack of fastball command seems to be almost as big a detriment coming in from pen as it is from the rotation.

  19. I wonder if there would be any consideration to telling Glasnow “Hey we are gonna skip Liriano next time through and you are going to make that start, but then you are going back to Indy”. Let him know that it is a one off thing and he still needs improvement. Gives them an opportunity to skip Liriano and when you send him back down maybe that taste of big league action motivates him a little more (not at all implying he isn’t motivated or working hard) or spending a couple days with Searage he picks up something they were missing on in Indy.

  20. For those who think that we can package a few blocked prospects and go out and get a good starting pitcher, check out this list (just go past the position players). Once you do, please get back to me on who you want to trade for. And, remember, Teheran is going to be very, very expensive (think Shelby Miller…..plus?).

    Would you give up, say, Glasnow and Meadows in a package for Teheran (or Sonny Gray)? Because he is about it, imo unless you want Hellickson

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/06/top-15-trade-candidates.html

    • Your point is well taken. It is really tough this year. Prospects aren’t ready and a weak market. They may need to get creative to make any kind of useful trade. Honestly at this point I wouldn’t mind seeing Boscan get a shot in the rotation.

    • Not a fan of trading for a big name…a small deal with fringe prospects to shore up a spot in the rotation I’m okay with. But…yeah, with the Pirates continually falling out of contention…there’s no need to empty the farm.

    • One of the buy low rehab projects is now sitting in Indy. If he can build his shoulder strength up hopefully he can help either in the pen or heaven forbid the rotation.

    • This is a weak year for deadline starters but I imagine the Bucs kick the tires on Rich Hill if healthy and Drew Pomeranz who I think comes with an extra year or two of control. Plus there’s still plenty of baseball before the deadline, Tampa could become sellers and add some interesting pitchers to the list as an example. However the upcoming free agent crop of starting pitchers is uninspiring to say the least so I’d guess the cost to acquire a starter will be high at the deadline.

      Therefore if I were NH, I’d be looking at the surplus of quality relievers potentially available, particularly with extra years of control since Melancon and Feliz are both possibly gone next year. Particularly if the Yankees dangle their top bullpen arms the Pirates could get Doolittle, Abad, or one of Philly’s relievers when everyone’s looking to see where Andrew Miller and Chapman go. Maybe even try to get both Hill and Doolittle as a package.

  21. See: Arrieta, JakeIf you look around baseball, you’ll see teams like the Orioles and the Tigers who constantly rush top pitching prospects to the majors, even if there are obvious flaws in their games. Those pitchers either never realize their potential, or they take several years to get there.”

    See: Arrieta, Jake

    • The counter argument to your opinion is that Arrieta not only has met his potential but has exceeded it even though he may have come up and failed to have immediate success. The real issue there was Baltimore couldn’t recognize the talent they had.

  22. One point we ought to remember whenever we criticize the FO for failing in some obvious way is: The Pirates are not a cash rich team that has the money needed to fix problems. This organization must rely on ingenuity and luck. The FO could not buy a pitching staff as the Cubs, Nationals It could not sign a Price or Greinke. It cannot build a team that has a $150M payroll.

    If the FO has failed, this failure has mitigating circumstances as causes. And the remedies will mature in the development system while the ML team flounders.

    • Steve,
      The counterpoint is that this team has seen a tremendous increase in attendance and valuation and overall revenues. Nobody here is saying match the payroll of the Cubs. But the Bucs went for Vogelsong, Nicasio, Niese and others. The FO made mistakes and publicly admitted they did not do a good job this offseason. They can afford to spend more and should have spent what they did (and more) wisely. Exhibit A is letting Happ go and miscalculating the market.

      • Michael….again, most of the high priced FAs have underwhelmed.

        Happ (at 3.41) and Cueto might be the exceptions. Had we signed Happ and those two months ended up being a mirage, fans would’ve been pounding NH just as unmercifully.

        It is so easy to look back and say we should’ve done this and we should’ve done that.

        And, NH has always been forthcoming about his mistakes, for which I applaud them for. They have been right more often than they’ve been wrong.

        They did great on the offensive side with Freese, Joyce and Jaso.

        Their pitching choices have admittedly sucked, though. And WHO knew that Liriano would suck, Cutch would suck, Watson would suck. Or maybe NH shouldv’e known that? (sorry, that last sentence was cyncial).

        • Lee
          Agree with you with one exception…Happ had very good material, a sound arm and a crisp consistent delivery. They went for him but came up short. The bench moves were terrific. The “bridge to prospect arrival” pitching signings just did not work.

        • Joyce and Freeze were last minute hail marys. They were not in the original plan. I am a big fan of the front office but they had a really bad offseason. Guys like Vogalsong should be and could picked up in February. No point making him or any pitcher like him such a center piece of their plans. I think their was some ego involved with this offseason. This FO has had so much success with so many reclamation projects that they felt they could sign anyone and make him good.

      • Those who criticize the FO for it’s winter failures ought to provide a detailed list that includes the team budget (both min and max), the pitchers available at prices they could afford and could have signed but didn’t, a map of their longterm plan that has them integrating Taillon, Glasnow, etc. into the rotation, future budgets, etc.

        The situation was complex and judging the results after the fact makes it easy to miss that complexity.

        • Steve
          NH has made some great moves and also admits mistakes. He has publicly stated in live interviews recently that his offseason pitching moves were not enough and the team is suffering as a result. The budget did not cause the mistakes.

    • I agree they don’t have the budgets of the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, but I don’t buy that allows the FO to be left off the hook. I never would have expected them to sign a Greinke or Price, they didn’t need to. First of all, Niese was a poor return on Neal Walker – and I said that when the trade was made. We should have received more than a #5 starter. Or, don’t make the trade. I see that no indication that the Pirates were serious bidders on the numerous free agent second tier starting pitchers who could have been had. They never adequately replaced Bastardo as a second LH reliever. Finally, they have wasted 2.5 months of the season, while they stubbornly refused to promote Taillon or Glasnow. None of the above can be blamed on not having a $150-200m payroll budget….

  23. Tim
    I am thinking back to the year Cole was called up. He was struggling for a period at AAA but actually got straightened out and then improved upon a call up to the majors. What was the tipping point for the Cole call up compared to what Glasnow has to show? Is it possible Glasnow would benefit from the MLB environment and coaching particularly with his secondary pitches. I recall Cole having a couple good starts after his bad stretch and he was suddenly deemed ready for promotion.

  24. Open question What has Ray Searage done this year? Locke is a disaster. Nicasio has not shown any improvement and Niese is Jeff Morton.

    • Whatever Ray did to Jeff Locke’s delivery has been an absolute disaster. Locke was a always near a 4 Xfip pitcher before this year. That’s damn good for a 5th starter. Now he is a total mess.

      • I forgot who wrote it but I’m fairly sure it was one of the PP writers that they reverted Locke back to his pitching form as it was before the drastic turn in his delivery. Consequently this is about how good he pitched in that old style of pitching. Forgive me if I’m incorrect on who wrote it but I think I may be right…

        • Correct…It has been reported frequently that they took the drastic turn out of his delivery.

          • Thanks Michael, I was also just mentioning that this is probably what can be expected from Locke from here on out without the extra deception from that turn…

  25. Glasnow either needs to start doing that with his curveball, or he needs to improve the changeup.

    That is the $100,000 question. Will he start doing it? Yeh, he’s only 22, but until he does….

  26. The issue with NH not getting a proven 5th starter was that his strategy relied on at least 2 of the AAA guys to be ready now. This seemed like a reasonable bet with 5 guys to choose from. But two of them got injured and two others are not proving that they are ready.

    The only options would be:
    – to stay the course (no fan really likes this option)
    – to trade for a proven starter (my preference if it doesn’t cost too much – but it will)
    – to bring up another of the AAA guys
    I agree with Tim that there would be no guarantees here and that it could impact a pitchers growth. So I would bring up Glasnow on a short leash. If he struggles, maybe that focuses him more on what he needs to do in AAA. Then try Kuhl if he’s ready. And if those both fail hopefully Brault is healthy again…

      • Depends on what two arms and legs you offer. We all drooled over this farm system but they need pitching and it has given us one player. The worst trade that NH made was when he sent Walker to the Mets. The player in return was supposed to be a bridge until the AAA pitchers started arriving. This pipeline has either been misjudged or needs more seasoning but in either case he (NH) DID NOT DO HIS JOB!. He left this team vastly ill-prepared for this season. Granted his current starters are not preforming but you do not rely on Jeff Locke and a bullpen arm to solve your SP problems.

        • MLBTR (or was it FanGraphs) did an article on the paucity of SP out there in trade (Rich Hill was #2 and he is on the DL).

          Teheran is it and even if he was to be dealt, with him being the only viable piece out there, the haul the Braves would get would likely be more than what they got for Shelby Miller.

          Sorry, no way EYE would do that, and I doubt NH will either.

          • I don’t recommend a trade now! But he made a couple of big mistakes this past off-season. Not to pick on Searage but if he is as good as he supposedly has been then bring up the arms and let him work with them. I think Benedict had considerable value that we sort of brush aside.

            • In all honesty, most of the big name FA SPs have underwhelmed.

              I’m not sure what else he could’ve done.

              As for Benedict, NH did NOT ‘brush him aside’. Jim B, like all competitors, left for more $$$ and a better position.

  27. NH did a horrible job. It was a poor strategy from day 1 to rely on “getting by” until midseason when Taillon and Glasnow arrive. Guess what, prospects are volatile and who would have thunk it??? Glasnow isn’t ready. Vogelsong was a stupid target but replacing him with 2 pitch Nicasio and weakening the bullpen was even dumber.

      • I’m just fed up with the approach this year because there is a lot of talent on this team and NH is culpable even if established guys like Liriano are struggling. Liriano is a high beta pitcher so his struggles shouldn’t be complete surprise. Just more reason NH should have been more cognizant about doing more for this pitching staff. Serious question. As ordinary as Vance Worley was does anyone think he couldn’t be better than Nicasio or Locke in rotation. What the hell happened to their ability to analyze pitchers? Vogelsong, Niese are 2 guys they targeted this offseason. A complete joke.

    • He did but on the other side of argument he did a great job in years past picking reclamation projects, and bullpen pieces. This year did a great job with Freeze, Jason, and Joyce for nothing

  28. Based on what transpired over the winter, the Pirates put their eggs in the basket of having “good enough” SP until TG/JT arrived in June to spark the rotation, complimented by a strong bullpen. The bullpen has been inconsistent at best and TG hasn’t fulfilled development expectations.

    Considering what a let down the staff has been, they’re fortunate to be .500. However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. I think Cole and Liriano will revert to form in the 2nd half and JT and Niese will win more than they lose to keep the Pirates in the mix for a post-season birth.

    • I have always been high on JT and said back when Cole came in that I felt he would be the better pitcher of the two. Seeing how he is pitching with no effort and the control appears as sound as ever I still think he will be the better of the two. So when you say JT and Niese will win more than they lose I absolutely agree with you and will go a step higher and say that JT will probably be the most consistent this year in the rotation even in his 1st time up. “Glass half full” kind of outlook with him. Here’s to hoping anyway…

  29. I will again point out the same thing as I did on twitter last night: that 2014 team ended the season with 1 pitcher out of the 11 man group with an ERA over 4. The Pirates will likely end with 3 in their starting 5 with another couple in the pen. It’s not just the starters…this whole pitching staff is poorly constructed from top to bottom and it’s something we foresaw in the offseason. This offseason was by far NHs worst and he needs to be told this is unacceptable. This pitching staff was never going to be good enough and way too much was put on the shoulders of prospects who were/are no sure thing.

    100% agree about Glasnow though. I’ve been saying that for awhile. Completely agree.

    • I agree. Outside of a couple of starters and a few relievers, nothing about the pitching staff inspired hope.

      Sadly, out of what was thought was solid, Liriano and Watson have tanked.

      I sort of blame NH…and I sorta don’t…the Pirates got caught with their pants down, too many gaps and no internal fixes. That’s on the GM. But the cost of pitching is so damned high, the NH was never going to have the budget flexibility to fill the holes via free agency.

      I’m keeping the tally going, by the way…23/26 games are against teams with a winning record.

  30. Could Locke be sent to AAA to look for his lost curve or is he out of options? As bad as he has been he might clear waivers if he is out of options. As bad as he has looked in early innings I really don’t want to see him in the pen, but this is based on the eye test and not statistics. Nicasio looks like he could help in the pen but Locke just looks bad.

    • He’s out of options, and I suspect he wouldn’t clear waivers, because I think teams will look past half a season and see a lefty starter who’s given 150+ IP of slightly-below league-average pitching (ERA+ 92) for the past three seasons as worth spending $1.5M (pro-rated) on.

  31. Why not give Boscan a few starts? He has been excellent as a starter in AAA and was not horrible as a reliever for the big club earlier this year. He is not a long term solution but should be passable until Kuhl or Glasnow are ready. Frank Duncan is another possibility. Has pitched well at AA and AAA and is not someone you worry about rushing to the majors due to his limited upside.

    • I agree on Boscan. He’s not amazing, but flipping the roles of Boscan and Nicasio seems like it could work out for both of them.

      Definitely agree on the point about Duncan, too, but he gave up four ER in 6 IP against the AA Mets just two weeks ago. Would like to see a little more consistency before giving him the call, though I do love his GB%.

    • I think one of the main things relating to Duncan’s upside, is the strength of his defense, especially the infielders. He’s a groundball machine. That’s why he’s doing so well in AAA. If true, this would speak well for moving him up.

  32. Sort of response to Roy….. I am not one of those banging the drum that Galsnow has to come up NOW. However, there has to be a tipping point. If Searage can take JA Happ and work with him for a few months or his other reclamation projects, there has to be a time when it would just benefit Glasnow to come up, have a 5 inning, 95 pitch start and have the benefit of working with Searage for four days in side sessions. Be around Cole, Melancon, Watson, Liriano, Cervelli, Stewart.
    Yeah, may be a little early. Just because he is called does not mean that development stops. The argument that 1-2 extra walks or 1-2 extra stolen bases when Glasnow starts is worth it over Locke/Nicasio is not worth hindering the long term affects of his development. But at some point, his development needs to continue with big league coaches, trainers, travel, workout routines, hotels, dietitions and all else that goes with being a big league player.
    Not sure that means June 17th is the right day. But if he puts 2-3 solid, improving starts, it may be just after the All-Star break.

    • They could put Glasnow in the bullpen. An inning or two instead of a start would allow them to limit any control issues he may encounter, while continuing his development under the big league staff.

  33. Just replayed Greg Brown’s comments after the game. “It is very very obvious that the starting pitching has to be fixed” Brown and Wehner went on at length about the poor starting pitching. I was surprised by the length and intensity of the criticism. I was left wondering if the club is working on a deal the fans may not like to support the rotation.

  34. They got J.A Happ for next to nothing last year, at the very least I think they need to take a chance on a guy falling out of favor somewhere soon just to get Locke out (assuming Cole replaces Nicasio next weekend) so Glasnow can keep developing, because it is obvious he needs more time

    • Not a bad notion…something has to be done about the bottom of the rotation…

      Sadly, the ‘bottom of the rotation’ consists of four pitchers at the moment.

      Sampson, by the way, is carrying a very nice stat line in the PCL: 7 IP/start, 3.25 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, and 5+ K:BB.

      • In a VERY hitter friendly PCL. Ridiculously so. Which makes the failure to resign Happ that much more frustrating

        • Happ would’ve been nice….

          I’m still scratching my head about some of the decisions the FO makes when it comes to the reclamation projects. I guess Liriano is the exception as they resigned him, but I still can’t really get my head around why the team pulls in projects like Volquez and Happ, fixes them, gets good performance, then lets them walk. I mean, I could understand it if these guys were pulling $15-20M…but that’s not the case.

          • Happ was a huge risk, but I agree on Volquez…although his peripheals at the time said that he was going to regress.

            Hindsight is ALWAYS the best sight. 🙂

            • Every contract is risky…but, considering what they signed for…that risk seemed acceptable. 2/20 and 3/36. Besides, if the Pirates sign Volquez…they probably never trade for Happ…or something like that… 🙂

          • Blaine, I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE!!!!!!! YOUR ANALYSIS IS SPOT ON CORRECT. I AM SICK OF THE PIRATES OWNERSHIP APPARENTLY HAVING CHAMPAGNE TASTE ON BARELY A BEER BUDGET. This organization has been rebuilt. It is not longer 1993-2014. If you want to win, then spend the money it takes to put a quality product on the field, or sell the team to someone who will. That does not mean you have to sign Zack Greinke or David Price, but it does mean you better not be relying on reclamation projects all of the time.

          • Don’t look now, but Happ’s ERA is up to 3.41 (which is still good – 123 ERA+) but with FIP/xFIP in the 4.5 range (which isn’t so good and raises at least yellow flags for the rest of the year).

            Yes, it’s better than the Pirates are getting from the back of the rotation, but it’s not the 2.00-2.50 ERA he was putting up for his first half-dozen starts.

            • Happ’s deal will probably stink at some point…I’ve no doubt about that.

              But if you look a little deeper…it’s playing in Toronto’s stadium that is killing him.

              His home road splits are ridiculous.

              Home: .287 BA, .807 OPS
              Road: .197 BA, .625 OPS

              I’m not saying he’d be matching last season’s dominance, but the deeper target in LF at PNC and seeing the DH less wouldn’t hurt.

            • Happ always outpitches his FIP so thats not really a sign of anything in his case. Look past that, and see he goes at least 6 and usually 7 innings almost EVERY start. That is value that a lot of people overlook, but shouldn’t seeing how our bullpen is decimated.

  35. I agree with the main points…

    This season is just becoming frustrating as hell…not just with the failures are the ML level, but with the way Kuhl and Glasnow teased early on.

    …on a totally different note…and, yet, still somewhat related…any word on when Brault is expected back?

  36. If Glasnow and Kuhl aren’t ready to come up, then the season is lost and the Pirates need to bring Bell up and let him transition into the big leagues. Should be sellers at the trade deadline, move Jaso and/ or Freese and bring up Frazier too. Might as well take advantage of an off year like the Red Sox did last year.

  37. Excellent points Tim!!! I think the argument to bring up Kuhl & Glasnow is based on the fact that Nicasio and Locke have been getting absolutely hammered and there doesn’t seem to be a sign that either one of them has the basic stuff to really turn it around. Unfortunately, Locke has been consistently inconsistent for years which is why I think so many fans find him to be totally frustrating. And Nicasio just seems like he might be a far better bullpen option. Unfortunately this all goes back to the offseason and the Pirates’ failure, for whatever reason, to fill obvious and glaring holes in the pitching staff. And even though the Pirates have had excellent years from 2013 – 2015, is there a fan who doesn’t want to see them take the next step, get past the WC and really make a mark in the post-season? Right now they are staring up at a really huge, steep cliff to scale with the Cubs having an ultra-talented, young team and virtually unlimited resources to go off and get a Heyward, a Zobrist, a Lester and even a Lackey. We also see that we’ll only have Cutch probably through 2018 at best. That’s the reason for the angst. This year is not looking good. That’s why I am thinking that if they are truly sunk, they may be best hoping for strong performances from Liriano- Melancon- SRod- Freese- Jaso up to the deadline and building up the system a bit more (do they have enough chips to bring back even 1 starter who would slot as a 2 – 3?). Well we know we can trust you because you see it first hand, so if Glasnow and Kuhl are no tready we’ll just have to live with it until they are….

  38. Might be time to punt..trade Cutch..Jaso..get some key pieces. Let the kids get some experience and make a run next year

        • I refuse to believe this is anything more than an aberration, some players go through whole season slumps and come back to their oldselves the following year. Andrew McCutchen is not washed up. Trade him for a legit #1 ok, but not much else

    • I wouldn’t be ready to punt just yet. If they would decide to though, they definitely have some guys they could move should they fall out of contention though. I imagine Jaso, Freese, Joyce would be in demand. I could also see Melancon bringing a back a top 75-100 prospect.

  39. Might be the year to go out and buy some pitching at the deadline with some prospects. Id say there is no prospect that i absolutely wouldnt trade other than glasnow and meadows. The system has reached the point where basically everyone is blocked. Everyone else should be available for the right price.

      • To help their chances of making the wild card? Bc they have a need? Bc the bullpen has to find someone to replace melancon next year? Unless you want to rely on glasnow and kuhl, which apparently is ganna take another month or 2 and then hopefully it only takes them a month to adjust to big league hitting.
        Or, say fuck it and trade liriano, jaso, joyce, srod, mercer, melancon, watson, and freese for whatever you can get and bring up bell, frazier, hanson, etc.

        • I would entertain most trades for those players but not Mercer. Too hard to find another better than average SS even though he’s just above average. I would definitely keep Watson too.

    • I have always maintained this was going to a re-trenching year, where they may contend for the second wild card (could still happen) and gradually let the new guys get their feet wet (Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, Brault, Hanson) and then be loaded for bear in 17 and 18. Injuries now look to turn that into another 1989, oh well.
      If that is the case and they are more than 8 games out of the second wild card then I am in favor of standing pat at the deadline. Maybe pick up a bull pen arm or some other spare part, but don’t mess with the system’s big prospects. Maybe in the off season make the big splash for the one big starter or a big bat, but this season already feels like it’s just not in cards.

  40. Even though I agree w/ you that Glasnow doesn’t appear ready and it’s of more importance to not stunt his long-term growth, I find it rather comical that you’re holding out your opinion – based on “$45K of coverage” as definitive. I mean, your “$45K of coverage” also led you to believe that Adrian Sampson was a contender to be in the ‘Dream Rotation’, that Bryan Morris was an impact arm that needed called up, and that Matt Hague needed promoted to be the Pirates 1B. Even w/ your coverage, it’s possible you’re wrong – as you’ve been wrong before.

    Last thing: I don’t think promoting Glasnow or not is as divisive as you make it. I think people (rightly) look at your criticism of his game as being inconsistent w/ your seemingly effusive praise for Chad Kuhl. Let’s be honest: Glasnow would walk too many guys and his outings would be frustratingly short. But, Chad Kuhl doesn’t have the ability to strike people out at the Major League level and will – often times – be a BaBIP dependent pitcher and at the mercy of fortune. He’s a middle-relief reliever; he’s not the answer.

    Your post read like a tantrum, in all honesty. And, that’s from someone who agrees w/ your main contention re: Glasnow.

        • He comments every other week with this same garbage. It’s the same formula.

          1. We don’t know what we’re talking about.
          2. Give vague exaggerations implying things we didn’t actually say as proof of #1.
          3. Either mention that Keith Law is the definitive source, or throw out personal insults.

          • Let me change the subject. Forget Glasnow. Is Josh Bell ready? Offensively is he ready? Over 415 PA’s and near a 170 WRC+ in Triple A. I’m well aware of Polanco’s struggles and I don’t think that is a good barometer for Bell. Not sure about his defense but I think there is a good chance he is able to put up a 100 WRC+ or higher about now.

            • Check my article on Bell from last month. He’s another guy who needs some work to refine his game. Has been working on his timing from the left side and just getting the most out of his swing from both sides. Defense has improved, but still going through work.

              Jaso is good enough that they don’t need Bell. Expecting him to improve on Jaso is asking a lot of a rookie. And offense isn’t their problem right now, so no need to take the risk.

              • Another topic change. We have an abundance of blocked middle infield and outfield prospects. Their rating are improving. Can we get a starter for a package of two of them. Meadows is off limits. We keep hearing that excess talent is currency, well……. let’s spend some!

                • I feel like that’s the original topic.

                  They could deal these guys, but not for a top starter. But that hasn’t stopped them from getting an upgrade before.

              • Disagree on Bell. He doesn’t need to come up today but should be up in with 100 more PAs that will put him well above 500. Jaso showing serious signs of age in his batted ball profile. Almost everything on ground and weakly hit. Quite frankly his numbers aren’t all that much better than Ike Davis offensively.

                Never a guarantee with any rookie. On the other hand, Polanco should not be the gold standard as to what to expect either. Plenty of rookies have come up with less success and PAs than Bell in Triple A or lower and put up more than 100 WRC+ when they came up.

                Even if Bell manages 100 WRC+ vs Jaso’s 110-115 you are getting him valuable major league experience. And there’s nothing to say Bell couldn’t put up 115-120 either.

      • Tim, I greatly appreciate the depth and thoroughness or your insight. And I think that I can speak for the vast majority of Bucco fans that subscribe to this site. So, just keep up the good work.
        Now, a comment or two about what you have posted here. What makes me angry is that apparently–it certainly was not stated by Neal Huntington that I ever heard–but apparently the plan this past off season from a pitching standpoint was to squeeze by until approximately mid-June with three-fifths of the rotation being comprised of number five starters at best. And even that is assuming you would call Nicasio a legitimate number five starter. I think his best value is out of the bull pen, with a spot start in an emergency. In mid-June, Glasnow and Taillon were to ride into Pittsburgh on their white horse and provide a paved trip through late October. Well, we now see the results of that plan. I heard Neal H. say earlier this season that in a perfect world, Taillon, Glasnow, Kuhl, etc., would spend the entire season at AAA. Well, if he really feels that way, and I think that all knowledgeable baseball people would agree that that would be the sensible thing to do, then why did he not go out and acquire more quality and quantity this past off season, especially when he saw what the Cubs ended the season with in 2015 and what they added in the off season? Are we to conclude that the “reclamation project/dumpster diving” approach to putting together a pitching staff this past off season was driven by the limited budget that Bob Nutting provided Neal Huntington to work with? Minor league prospects are just that, until they arrive and produce. To put a date on their supposed/expected arrival and hope that they will become immediately successful is foolhardy. For the Pirates, any hope of playing October baseball, or even having a winning season, may be a faint hope at best at this point because of that plan. I welcome your response.

    • Why do you read this site if you don’t value its writers’ and analysts’ opinions on prospects or believer their reports? They have Glasnow’s box scores for free on milb.com.

    • Don’t mean to intrude here, but I have to give my 3 cents.

      I feel like you’ve typed this same narrative so many times that you may actually truly believe that Tim and the rest of us have actually written these things. Tim, John, myself, and the rest of writers here compose our analysis based off of live coverage, coach analysis, player comments, etc… not box scores like a lot of people. When Chad Kuhl was pitching extremely well early in the year, that is what was reported. When Tyler Glasnow was pitching extremely well, that is what was reported. While Chad Kuhl has struggle recently, that is what was reported. When Tyler Glasnow struggled… yeah, you get it.

      Pick a new battle, Andrew. It’s becoming a little ridiculous.

      Sincerely,
      A fairly even keeled guy who is over it.

      • I had to chuckle. Did anyone ever say Bryan Morris was an impact arm that had to be called up. I don’ remember that one.

        • Morris was a reliever before being called up. I said he had a chance to be a late inning arm in the majors. I don’t know if that’s an impact arm.

          I said Sampson could be the #5 starter behind the Dream Rotation, at a time when he looked like a #4 starter in the majors (looking at his numbers in the PCL, he could still get there).

          I said Matt Hague should get a shot in the majors when they were signing guys like Lyle Overbay.

          I’ve said that Kuhl is a #4 starter, and pointed out that scouts have said the same, but Keith Law said reliever, so nothing else matters. Keith Law also rated Kuhl one spot higher in his pre-season rankings than we did.

          It’s all comical.

          • It always kills me that some of these jags on here trash the writers for their opinions with their own (lesser developed) opinions. When an advanced scout reports back to the gm on a prospect that also is an opinion. There isn’t much that is 100% fact when it comes to evaluating players who are in or just out of their teens and playing against greatly varied levels of talent. People act like they are owed gospel for some reason.

    • Nothing Tim said implied to me that he felt his opinion was definitive, only that there was some substance to the opinion. I wish he just stop including the self-defensive sounding stuff in his articles. They can stand up on their own merit. Anyone that follows the site knows PP does their homework and those that don’t aren’t worth wasting words on.

      • It’s because of absurd comments like Andrew’s that he has to be defensive every time he wants to talk about Glasnow.

    • Wow, Tim, I’m very disappointed that you are not right 100% of the time. Talk about cherry picking, the cherry tree is quite empty. 45k goes a long way in reporting when you don’t have to pay big names, big money.
      I can’t believe for $3A month, I get this much coverage. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but selective reading and memory is not needed.

    • I don’t know if Tim said anything of those things or not but I wouldn’t disagree with any of them. Adrian Sampson had/has a high floor and potential to be a great back of the rotation pitcher. Bryan Morris was a he’ll of a relief pitcher for a couple years, better than what we have now. And Matt Hague got on base arguably more/better than anyone in our system at the time! I’m sure Tim has been off on a lot of predictions but those are bad examples.

      • Here is what I said about Sampson in the “Dream Rotation” article Andrew references so often:

        “If you’re setting up a dream rotation, Sampson probably doesn’t make the cut. He most likely would end up sixth overall, with the chance to crack the rotation after Francisco Liriano leaves the team in a few years. But the reality is that dream rotations never work out as expected. Pitchers get injured. Pitchers fail to reach their upside. It’s possible that Sampson could fall victim to one of those setbacks, and fail to reach his upside in the majors. But if he does work out, there’s a strong probability that he’s going to find a rotation spot in Pittsburgh. And that could come as early as the 2015 season.”

        That didn’t happen, because he struggled last year. But that’s not the case this year. He just got called up and will start for Seattle tonight, and reports out of Seattle are that he has looked great and has been the most consistent pitcher in Triple-A for them this year.

  41. Great points Tim. It doesn’t matter if they have sparkly ERAs in AAA. It’s not the majors. It’s the biggest and hardest step a prospect will make. There is no magic number for when a guy is ready and a reason for promotion should never be, “Well he’s better than so and so.”

    • Right. Doesn’t matter how good the numbers look in AAA the question is whether they can consistently get MLB hitters out.

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