Morning Report: An Interesting Pitching Match-Up Tonight in Indianapolis

In Indianapolis today, Drew Hutchison gets the ball for the good guys, facing off against Mark Appel of Lehigh Valley. It presents an interesting match-up in player who aren’t the favorites among fans of the Pirates. Hutchison however is trying his best to get on the good side with some strong performances this month. He has a 1.93 ERA in May and has gone at least six innings in each start. He’s been featured in our The Twenty articles each of the last two weeks.

Most of the dislike was misguided towards Hutchison and has settled down, especially with the players the Pirates sent to the Blue Jays turning into fragile pieces. Francisco Liriano struggled for a bit this year, then went on the DL with a shoulder injury and he’s not due back until at least June. Reese McGuire went on the DL last year for a short time, then ended up on the DL again earlier this month and he’s already been out for three weeks and counting. He only went on the DL once with the Pirates for a very short time. Harold Ramirez suffered a major knee injury in his first game with Toronto and it doesn’t look like he has fully recovered from it. That was a danger with him if he remained though, as he already missed so much time with leg injuries that cut into his speed. Another major one hasn’t been kind to him so far.

While Hutchison had looked great recently, Appel has never had success at any level and it’s showing with his Triple-A performance. In eight starts, the 25-year-old has a 6.69 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. Over his minor league career, he has a 5.22 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, now in his fifth pro season.

One has to wonder if he would have been better off signing with the Pirates? He would have received less bonus money by about $2.5M, but he also would have avoided the heavy pitch counts he had as a senior at Stanford and been in the Pirates’ system a year earlier. You can’t just assume his career would go exactly the same if a major change happened when he was 21 years old. The Pirates obviously don’t regret it at this point, because it allowed them to get Austin Meadows, who is a significantly better prospect. Those two also get to match-up tonight in what should be an interesting game.

** In yesterday’s Morning Report, I talked about the innings pitchers get in Extended Spring Training for both relievers and starters. It’s an article I can link anytime the question comes up, which is one of the reasons I wrote it. I reached out to a handful of players to get a decent group size, but only heard back from four on Monday before I wrote it up. Two of those player didn’t work well for the article because one had his workload decreased to work on something on the side, and the other had a minor injury that shut him down for a week and caused him to restart his building up process. I heard back from Braeden Ogle yesterday and he said his pitching workload was exactly the same as Max Kranick, who I used in the article. I also heard that the relievers are basically on the same schedule as Chris McDonald, who was my reliever example, so it was nice to at least backup the examples I used with more data.

** I was going to mention this yesterday in case you missed it in The Twenty article. The Indianapolis Indians had a sweep of the weekly awards, with Steven Brault winning the Pitcher of the Week and Jason Rogers winning the Player of the Week. It’s the first (and second) weekly awards for Indianapolis this year. In fact, they’re the first team besides Bradenton to win a weekly award this year. Despite the great early season by Kevin Kramer, Altoona has been shutout, and West Virginia hasn’t won either. Brault joins Mitch Keller as the only pitcher for the Pirates to win the weekly award, while Rogers joins Cole Tucker and Kevin Krause with Player of the Week honors.

**West Virginia had a rain out on Monday, then a doubleheader rained out yesterday. Since they don’t play Augusta again during the first half, this is their second canceled game of the season. That means they will play just 68 games during the first half. If they don’t get in today’s two games, they will be canceled as well.


Bradenton leads their division by 2.5 games with 24 games remaining in the first half.

West Virginia trails their division leader by 4.5 games, with 26 games left in the first half. They are in fifth place.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 6-5 to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night. The Pirates will go with Trevor Williams, who is making his fourth start of the season. He threw two shutout innings in relief against the Braves back on April 9th. The Braves will counter with 26-year-old right-hander Julio Teheran, who has a 5.47 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 49.1 innings.

In the minors, West Virginia was rained out yesterday. They have a doubleheader today with James Marvel making his return from the disabled list and Oddy Nunez scheduled to start the second game. Both Altoona and Bradenton have morning start times. Gage Hinsz is scheduled to start for Bradenton, although the weather forecast does not look good for baseball. Cole Tucker had his 28-game on base streak snapped last night.

MLB: Pittsburgh (20-26) @ Braves (20-23) 7:35 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (6.04 ERA, 11:16 BB/SO, 25.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (24-19) @ Lehigh Valley (30-14) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (3.74 ERA, 17:34 BB/SO, 45.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (24-18) vs Akron (19-21) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.48 ERA, 11:24 BB/SO, 44.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (28-18) vs St Lucie (21-25) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (6.68 ERA, 13:15 BB/SO, 32.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (21-21) @ Augusta (13-28) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (3.68 ERA, 6:26 BB/SO, 29.1 IP) and Oddy Nunez (3.68 ERA, 6:26 BB/SO, 29.1 IP)


Here are two homers from Altoona on Monday. One from Kevin Newman leading off the game…

…followed by the first Altoona homer from Wyatt Mathisen.


5/23: Yunior Montero assigned to Extended Spring Training. Sam Street added to Bradenton roster.

5/22: James Marvel activated from West Virginia disabled list. Chris Harvey assigned to Morgantown.

5/20: Jhan Marinez added to Pirates roster. Josh Lindblom placed on disabled list.

5/19: Pirates claim Jhan Marinez off waivers.

5/19: Stephen Alemais placed on disabled list.  Cam Vieaux activated from West Virginia disabled list.

5/19: Jin-De Jhang added to Altoona roster. Zane Chavez placed on disabled list.

5/17: Gregory Polanco placed on disabled list. Danny Ortiz recalled from Indianapolis.

5/16: Pirates sign Haicheng Gong.

5/16: JT Brubaker activated from Altoona disabled list. Chris Diaz assigned to Morgantown.

5/15: Nick Kingham promoted to Indianapolis.

5/15: Casey Sadler and Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton. Sam Street assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/15: James Marvel placed on West Virginia disabled list. Chris Harvey assigned to West Virginia.


Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus three games of note, one against one of the best pitchers ever. First with the players and both of them played over 100 years ago. Pitcher Jack Pfiester, who played for the 1903 NL champs, was an unfortunate player for the Pirates. Pfiester also played for the Pirates in 1904, but didn’t show much either season and was sent to a minor league team in Omaha. After a couple years of seasoning, he returned with the Chicago Cubs and was a dominate pitcher until health and arm issues ended his career early. Pfiester finished with a 2.02 ERA, which is the fourth lowest all-time for any pitcher with over 1,000 innings.

Also born on this date, infielder Sam Barkley, who played second base for the first Pittsburgh team in National League history. When the Pirates (then called the Alleghenys) moved to the NL in 1887 from the American Association, Barkley was the Opening Day second baseman. He only played two seasons in Pittsburgh (also 1886) but got to play in both leagues for the team.

On this date in 1894, the Pirates completed an improbable comeback against Cy Young. Down 3-0 before the top of the first was over, and 4-0 before they got on the board, pitcher Red Erhet pitched 8+ innings in relief and the Pirates scored two in the seventh and two in the eighth for the win. The Pirates lineup that day included HOF manager Connie Mack behind the plate, HOF first baseman Jake Beckley, the franchise’s all-time batting average leader in Jake Stenzel and the man many claim is responsible for the Pirates team name, Louis Bierbauer.

On this date in 1959, the Pirates swept the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader, with both games ending in pinch-hit walk-off doubles. Both were hit by catchers, with Danny Kravitz collecting the first one and Smoky Burgess hitting the second one in the tenth inning. You can view those boxscores here: Game one  Game Two

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Dale O

Who are you to say anything about any fans “misguided dislike of Hutchison”? People feel what they feel… The trade was a joke at the time and I consider it a joke still.

Bobby L

I didn’t bother to do anything but type this, but is there any possibility that Marvel and Nunez have exactly the same stats?

David Rosenberg

All three players dealt to the Blue Jays are having horrible seasons. Even if Hutchison rebounds to be a back end starter we may be no worse for wear.


I trusted the NH regime on Appel. But man they dodged a bullet to a degree. He was banking on his agent and his talent to be selected higher the next year. Not so fast. He had a funky delivery even then and just never looked like a definite ace to me. Correct, The next year the Pirates did appreciably better. Maybe a page out of what works, take position players if it is close. they can give you 150 games vs 30.


Which is why Machado instead of Taillon should’ve been a slam dunk choice.


Hutchinson’s stats aside, is he doing anything that would lead one to believe that if called up, he’d be more effective? I recall reading that he didn’t have an “out” pitch. Has he suddenly developed one? Houston was so desperate for starting pitching that they signed Doug Fister. Perhaps NH should have been shopping Hutchinson. We have Brault and Williams as good starting options who are ahead to Hutchinson. Once Kingham rounds into form, he’ll be right up there too.


No ‘n’ in Hutchison’s name. 🙂


No “K” either 😉


He still has a 4.26 FIP in the three May starts that have produced a 1.93 ERA.

There’s nothing here to suggest he’s any different.


I have a lot of the same questions. I heard his fastball had some insanely high hard hit rate in the past I’m curious if it has been made passable for MLB consumption.


The morning report just keeps getting better, great job JD.

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