Morning Report: The Good and Bad for Indianapolis from the First Half of the Season

In yesterday’s Morning Report, we took a look at the good and bad from the first half of the season in Altoona. Today we go with Indianapolis and their top five good/bottom five bad.

GOOD

1. Max Moroff – After his 2016 season in which he was constantly behind in the count because he tends to be too patient at the plate, Moroff became more aggressive with fastballs early in the count. That led to a .954 OPS, which is second in the league. It also led to two trips to Pittsburgh, including his current one which has lasted three weeks already.

2. Christopher Bostick – I have to remember to start calling him Christopher because that’s what he now prefers. When you put up an .820 OPS and move all around the field to gain some versatility, fans will call him whatever he wants. His strong start earned him his first trip to the majors and he could get back there at any time if he continues to play like he has so far.

3. Steven Brault – He was our Pitcher of the Month for May and he’s doing great in June as well. Brault could be up in the majors at this point. One impressive note is that he was hitting 95 MPH during his one relief outing earlier this month. He’s hit 95 in short outings before and he has some deception in his delivery, which is why his stuff works at this level in the usual 89-93 range.

4. Edgar Santana – For the first two months of the season, he was dominating Triple-A. He had a little setback when the Pirates wanted him to get extra inning outings in case they need him for more than one inning in the majors. His performance before the setback was enough to get him his first promotion to the majors.

5. Clay Holmes – The results haven’t been great, except the increase in strikeouts, but Holmes now routinely hits 96 MPH with movement on his fastball, and he’s topped out at 99 MPH. His GO/AO ratio has been near 3.00 since the start of last year, so when you add that into the increase in strikeouts and velocity, you have someone who is developing into a strong pitching option for the 2018 Pirates.

BAD

1. Tyler Glasnow – He gets this just for showing up in Indianapolis. We knew last year he had things to work on and his Spring Training numbers weren’t good this year, but once he won a starting spot with the Pirates and they said they were going to stick with him, you didn’t want to see him doing so bad that he ended up back in Indianapolis. I liked his game plan from his last start of just attacking hitters, but you don’t like to see eight walks in 11 innings. With the way Steven Brault is pitching and the need to get Nick Kingham big league time (see below), we might not see much more of Glasnow with the Pirates this year. He will at least get September time, but we will see if he’s up before that.

2. Barrett Barnes – You would love to see what he could do with a healthy season. That was actually what we said before his 2016 season with Altoona. Unfortunately for Barnes, two hamstring injuries this season will limit him to his lowest game total in the last three years.

3. Nick Kingham – He got on here because his missed time with a Spring Training ankle injury and because his fastball just hasn’t been good recently. He has his low-90s velocity and great downward plane on the pitch, but opponents are really squaring his fastball up now. His changeup has looked like a plus pitch and his curve is above average and gets great results, but the fastball needs work and he has to improve soon. Kingham is out of options next year, so he has to stick with the big club. I know no one wants to see another Alen Hanson situation where the manager is afraid to use a young player and then the Pirates lose him for nothing. Kingham should really get some decent MLB experience this year, so he’s better prepared going into 2018.

4. Pat Light – The Pirates lost Pat Light on waivers because he wasn’t the same pitcher who put up strong numbers last year in Triple-A and got his first taste of the majors. He was getting his usual ground balls, but the velocity wasn’t there that we heard about and that led to a lower strikeout rate, more runners on base and a higher ERA. When the Pirates needed a roster spot, he was designated for assignment.

5. Austin Meadows – If he didn’t just get hurt, he would have been in the middle here, not getting good or bad reviews. Another hamstring injury, added on to stats that are below expectation, gets him on this list. The stats really took a hit with a horrible first week, but then he looked good for awhile before really getting results. Add in his defensive value and his speed and he wasn’t doing as bad as some people thought. This injury could push back his big league arrival date depending on the severity and time missed.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-3 over the St Louis Cardinals on Friday night. The Pirates will send Gerrit Cole to the mound tonight for his 16th start of the season. He has allowed one run over seven innings in each of his last two starts. Cole faced the Cardinals on April 19th and allowed two runs over six innings. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Lance Lynn, who has a 3.33 ERA in 78.1 innings, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP. He threw seven shutout innings against the Pirates back on April 17th.

In the minors, Mitch Keller will make his second rehab start with Morgantown. He was limited to two innings in his first game, when he struck out four batters and allowed just one hit. He should go three innings in this game. Steven Brault and Tyler Eppler are both scheduled to start during a doubleheader for Indianapolis. Brault has a 1.35 ERA and an 0.85 WHIP in 20 innings this month. Eppler gave up seven runs on ten hits and four walks over 5.1 innings in his last start. Braeden Ogle will get the start for Bristol. The 2016 4th round pick spent last season in the GCL, where he had a 2.60 ERA and a .188 BAA in eight starts. West Virginia has a doubleheader today. Right now, James Marvel is listed as the second starter after Blake Cederlind, but that could change.

MLB: Pittsburgh (34-40) @ Cardinals (33-39) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.28 ERA, 16:39 BB/SO, 90.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (41-31) @ Louisville (28-44) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.18 ERA, 27:69 BB/SO, 74.1 IP) and Tyler Eppler (3.88 ERA, 23:51 BB/SO, 69.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (38-32) vs Hartford (32-39) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (3.86 ERA, 17:42 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (38-31) @ Lakeland (31-37) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (4.10 ERA, 19:46 BB/SO, 52.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (31-36) vs Lexington (34-36) 6:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Blake Cederlind (5.84 ERA, 15:42 BB/SO, 37.0 IP) and TBD

Short-Season A: Morgantown (4-1) @ Batavia (3-1) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:4 BB/SO, 2.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (1-1) @ Johnson City (1-1) 7:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (8-9) vs Indians (8-10) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here are two videos from Drew Hutchison’s last start. One is a strikeout, the other a strange play.

The play…

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/23: Jake Brentz promoted to Altoona.

6/23: Samuel Reyes promoted to GCL Pirates.

6/22: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Jacob Stallings Recalled

6/22: Evan Piechota, Chris McDonald, Nelson Jorge, Jhoan Herrera and Luis Perez transferred from Morgantown to Bristol.

6/22: Justin Maffei and Anderson Feliz assigned to Indianapolis. Austin Meadows and Gift Ngoepe placed on disabled list.

6/22: John Bormann assigned to Indianapolis.

6/22: Pirates sign five draft picks.

6/21: Pirates sign eight draft picks.

6/21: Pirates release Chase Simpson

6/21: Altoona activates Michael Suchy from disabled list.

6/20 Pirates sign Conner Uselton and Calvin Mitchell.

6/20: Pirates announce nine draft signings.

6/20: Dario Agrazal promoted to Altoona. Yeudy Garcia placed on disabled list.

6/19: Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona. Zane Chavez placed on disabled list.

6/18: Chris Stewart activated from the disabled list. Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.

6/16: Pirates sign Shane Baz.

6/16: Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona.

6/15: Ronny Agustin assigned to West Virginia.

6/14: Matt Frawley sent to New York Yankees as part of earlier trade.

6/14: Francisco Cervelli activated from disabled list. A.J.Schugel optioned to Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the franchise’s all-time leader in batting average. Starting with the players that didn’t hit .360 for the Pirates, we have third baseman Ken Reitz (1982), pitcher Al Gerheauser (1945-46) and Rollie Hemsley, who caught for the Pirates from 1928-31 and made five All-Star teams during his 19-year career.

Also born on this, pitcher Kirtley Baker, who played for the worst team in franchise history. The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys went 23-113 and Baker won three of those games. Unfortunately, he lost 19 games, giving him the lowest winning percentage (.136) for any pitcher that has at least 20 decisions with the Pirates. Despite the poor record, he did have a highlight to brag about. At the end of June, he threw a shutout against the New York Giants and pitcher Mickey Welch, who is a 300-game winner and a Hall of Famer.

Finally, Jake Stenzel was born on this date and no one had a higher average than his .360 mark with the Pirates. He is the only player in Major League history to hit .350 with 80 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 50 stolen bases in a season four times. He did it three times with the Pirates, while everyone else combined in franchise history reached those numbers twice, both times by Honus Wagner. Stenzel hit .371 in 1895 and the previous year he scored 150 runs, which remains the franchise’s single-season record. His .429 on base percentage is also the best in team history

  • I think it is time to make the bad deal look good and promote Hutchinson. He can take Kuhl’s starts ad put Kuhl the pen. Not sure who will go down but looks like Moroff since Clint will not play him.

    • It would be tough for a lot of fans to swallow Hutch being recalled, but I believe with the BP being in the shape it’s in give Hutch a try, as either a starter to replace Kuhl or to go the pen. Looks to me like the Bucs options would be limited, so my best guess is Santana returning to Indy. And another complication is Bastardo returning from rehab.
      What you say about Moroff seems to be true. I am wondering if the Marlins and Bucs might be looking at a trade with their veteran SS coming to the Bucs. Odds are…..???

  • I love the tough call outs for Glasnow and Meadows

  • The Hanson situation had the Pirates inflicting a wound on themselves. The situation arose because Hurdle is a coward and stupid. It’s time for him to move on.

  • If Max Moroff is your #1 good thing for the season thus far, then the team isn’t going to be helping the big league club in a significant way.

  • Bill Harvey
    June 24, 2017 9:11 am

    First, how can you actually say Meadows hasn’t been as bad as some people think? He has been bad, and there is no two ways about it. Going back to last season, he has not hit at all after his promotion to Indy.

    Second, there are only 5 rotation spots at the major league level, and I fully understand the need for depth, but the major league bullpen needs significant help, and there are 6 starters at Indy. It is obvious that not all of them will be starters at the major league level, at least for the Pirates, maybe it is time to move a couple of them to the bullpen and get them to the majors.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 24, 2017 8:32 am

    A couple of off topic comments….
    (1) First, I have to give NH and the Pirates organization credit for getting so many of their draft picks signed – especially the HS and JUCO kids who had the most leverage…..I am often very critical of the NH and the FO, and for good reason, but I have to give them the credit due. If they get Busby signed, that will be quite a feat.
    (2) In regards to last night’s game against St Louis….a good late inning comeback win on the road – although, the Cards are even more dysfunctional right now than the Pirates are. But, I could not believe CH stuck Hudson in yet another late inning, high leverage situation – against a division opponent no less. Of course, Hudson immediately gives up what could have been the winning run for the Cards. Is CH stubborn, incompetent, or just trying to lose games? Hudson should have his butt in Indy or on waivers – he’s been consistently bad almost from day 1 this season.

    • I think one of the issues in baseball is that you can’t actually play each game to win. Otherwise, we would be starting three pitchers (Nova, Cole, and Taillon) and using one reliever (Rivera) maybe getting Nicasio in there at times. That team would burn out in 2-3 weeks.
      Second, CH (who makes plenty of mistakes) is constrained to choose from the players NH gives him. Right now Nicasio is a little shaky, Watson is trying to change his attack mode, Leblanc has struggled, Santana is showing growing pains. Outside of Rivera, Hudson and Martinez have been the best options over the past three weeks.
      So who would you have chosen?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        June 24, 2017 3:30 pm

        Hudson has never been the best option all season… anyone would have been a better option.

    • here’s a bad outside the box idea, bring up brault and put him in the rotation and move Cole to setup man/ closer. You still can get cole his 6 inning a week and you make the back end of the bullpen much better.

      • Bill Harvey
        June 24, 2017 9:12 am

        Better idea, put Glasnow in the bullpen and bring him back up.

        • This is the $20m questions of Chad Kuhl/Indy starters can 2 or more of them work into premium setup options – , might not happen until next year – would have been huge if it had materialized this year. Mainly worried Rivero gets burned out by 2020

        • 8 walks in 11 AAA innings and you want to bring him in to an MLB game when ?

          • Walks don’t play as large for relievers. He obviously isn’t a starter at this point, and has the highest probability for high level success as a reliever.

        • Glasnow doesn’t have the command/control to be a late inning reliever. First commandment for the 8th and 9th, don’t beat yourself by walking anybody.

      • You’re kidding, right? Cole to setup man? I’ve seen people say move Kuhl to bullpen and while I didn’t agree, I understood why they said it. But COLE to setup man? What is wrong with you?

        • The War On Drugs has obviouly been a failure.

        • do you want robles from the nats, hmm give them something they need this year.

        • cole and rivero would be 7th, 8th and 9th.also cole would pitch the same amount of inning a week, and you would get a lefty in the rotation and cole would do this for 3 months.

          • You gotta be trolling.

            1. How do you know he’ll be pitching same amount of inning a week?

            2. Again, you want COLE (who by the way pitched 7 innings in a row as a starter in recent starts) to be a SETUP MAN?

            3. You would move COLE who has been a successful starter for years to get a lefty in the rotation? Lefty who? Brault? I know he’s pitching well in AAA now but wow you’re 100% sure he’ll be an upgrade to… COLE? Are you sure it’s not Kuhl or Williams you’re talking about?

            4. And you think the Nats need a bullpen piece so we need to convert our starting pitcher… whose name is GERRIT COLE… to a reliever?

            I just… The more I read that comment I refuse to believe that you’re sane.

      • Ha ha ha ha……oh man ! SMFH.

      • I don’t see this happening but I solute you for something aside from bellyaching or bitterness.

        • Bring Brault in as a starter and move Trevor Williams back to the pen because he performed well there.

          • Williams out of the pen was mixed his starting era is basically his pen era – it’s plays for a starter. Brault has earned next man up but I’m hoping they can find an over perform rental before brault. Kuhl/Glasnow/Holmes are the guys I see as the monster reliever potentials.

  • Let’s have Jake Stenzel night at PNC and retire his number. If he had one.

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