ALTOONA, PA – Alex McRae, the Pirates’ tenth round draft pick in 2014 from Jacksonville University, is being promoted from Bradenton to Double-A Altoona. The 6’3″ right handed pitcher has made 12 starts for Bradenton with a 2.69 ERA and 3-4 record.McRae has 35:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season, and he has gone at least six innings in each of his last five starts for the Marauders.

McRae is a pitch to contact guy who relies heavily on his defense behind him to help generate outs. The splits against McRae have been mostly even this year so far, with righties and lefties both hitting around .290 against him. There is a discrepancy, though, when runners get on base, as batters are only hitting .202 with a .530 OPS against him from the stretch.

McRae will get the start for Altoona tonight at Reading.

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  1. How does McRae compare and contrast with Frank Duncan? Having not seen either one of them, their stats seem to indicate that they are similar pitchers. Is that a fairly accurate assessment?

  2. Hopefully, with this promotion, the Pirates will mercifully remove David Whitehead from the starting rotation in Altoona – he may be the worst starting pitcher, who has had at least several starts, to ever have pitched there. Why isn’t he demoted to Bradenton? He is obviously way over his head in AA…..

      • I concur. I don’t understand why the pen is in such disarray and I feel like half the guys they keep bouncing around are AAAA players.

        • To me, there are 2 reasons the pen is in disarray:

          1. The rotation isn’t going deep enough into games. The average start is only off 1/3 of an inning from last season, but the proportion of non-competitive and short-inning starts has skyrocketed. All you need is a couple of these in one cycle through the rotation and you can burn the whole unit out for days.

          2. Relievers are inherently high-beta guys, so there was always a decent chance that the front 4 that performed so well throughout 2015 (Melancon, Watson, Caminero, Hughes) would suffer some decay (I mean, it’s not like they could IMPROVE…). As it turns out, 3 of the 4 have declined – sharply. Their K rates are way down, the BB rates and the HR rates are way up. Thank God Melancon has shown continued ability to manage contact despite declining K rates and velocity, and the addition of Feliz was inspired, but obviously not enough to counterbalance the drop in performance from Watson, Caminero and Hughes.

          It’s not like you couldn’t see this potentially happening. 3/5 of the rotation was made up of: a homer-prone guy coming off a poor second half, an erratic nibbler trying out a new delivery, a converted reliever hadn’t thrown more than 2 innings since June 2014, and Ryan Vogelsong. In other words, no one you could pencil in for 6 innings.

            • Whether it’s overuse (Watson), injury (Hughes), or just a decline in stuff (Caminero), the lifespan of a non-elite reliever is short. The bulk of these guys are living on the knife’s edge to begin with, so it doesn’t take much for their stuff to simply not work anymore.

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