We have talked about innings pitched a lot recently, with the articles going both ways. Some of the time we are talking about players who will fall short of their total from the previous season, while other players are setting new career highs and going well beyond those old totals.
Pitcher Eduardo Vera, who goes for West Virginia tonight, is a perfect case of the latter. I mentioned below that he is already above his innings total from the previous four years combined, with one of those seasons being the year he missed due to Tommy John surgery. It’s noteworthy for him though, because he seems to be tiring down the stretch. He was putting up great stats through most of July, but as his innings total increased, he seems to be fading. While you want guys to build a strong base for the following season, you don’t want them overextending themselves.
Another example is Oddy Nunez, who pitched two days ago for the Power. The Pirates have actually done a great job of limiting him. Starting him off at a lower pitch count, with a gradual increase, then shutting him down briefly when his velocity showed a slight dip. When they started him back up, he was starting at a lower pitch count.
He’s still at 100.1 innings this season, mostly due to him pitching well enough to get some quick outs and pile up innings. Nunez only pitched 56.1 innings his first two seasons combined, although those are paper innings and it’s missing two Spring Trainings, the Fall Instructional League and regular work during Extended Spring Training last year. His increase looks like a lot, but he put in more work during the times that don’t show up in the stats than the stuff that you do see on his MiLB page.
Perhaps the one increase that gets overlooked the most is Pedro Vasquez, who put in six innings last night. He is at 128.2 innings, and you can guarantee that these innings in High-A are harder innings than the 71.2 innings he put in last year. Part of that guarantee comes from the level, but also the WHIP being 0.18 higher, with a slightly higher walk rate. He too had innings you don’t see on paper. We don’t know for sure how many, but the fact that he debuted with 5.2 innings on June 22nd means that he probably put in at minimum 20 innings in Extended Spring Training to get to that point and it could be much more. So maybe the 21-year-old Vasquez really isn’t putting in more innings this year, maybe it’s just tougher innings, which still counts as an increase.
On the other side of the coin, we have the pitchers you want to see get more innings. If you saw our article on Brandon Waddell two days ago, it mentioned him as a possible Arizona Fall League participant. Waddell put in a lot of innings last year, so he is going to fall well short of those totals, even if he can get two playoff starts. At 23 years old on Opening Day next year, he’s still at that age where they recommend to limit the innings increase, so some Fall Instructional League innings and/or AFL innings seem like a great idea for him. That would give him a nice innings base to build on next season.
Mitch Keller is 37 innings short of last year, plus he made two playoff starts last season, with the last one going eight innings. He has a chance to get close to those numbers because he has four starts left. Ideally, you would want to see him increase his total from last year, which won’t happen during the season/playoffs, but I do think he is an AFL possibility, even if it’s in a relief role, where he just adds 15-20 innings. I wouldn’t rule out starting though, which would only add another ten innings or so to his AFL totals.
The one that stands out the most for me right now is Clay Holmes, who has been limited for just over a month now, plus they skipped a start and used him in relief once. They have talked about him possibly pitching in Pittsburgh this year. With a player who isn’t someone you worry about the Super Two deadline with, it’s not a bad idea to get them a couple of weeks in the majors for the experience factor, so maybe that’s how he adds more innings.
Right now though, Holmes is 40 innings short of his 2016 total, plus he made a playoff start last year. Indianapolis looks like a playoff team right now, so that’s why I say two weeks in the majors, instead of a month. One other thing with him is that these limited pitch counts also means limited stress pitches. Along with a better WHIP this season, that makes the gap even bigger between how hard he worked last year and this year.
At the top, you have three pitchers who look like they are adding a lot of innings over last year. They are all lower level pitchers, with Vera being a little older due to missed time, but the other two are very young. At the bottom, you have three pitchers in the upper level, who you would hope they add innings as they get closer to the majors. It will be interesting to see how or if the Pirates get any of those three extra work after their minor league season ends.
The Pirates trail in their division by 5.5 games. They are eight games back for the second wild card spot.
Indianapolis is in first place, with a 5.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.
Altoona is tied first place with a one game lead over third place. Their season ends September 4th.
Bradenton is in third place, 6.5 games behind. Their season ends September 3rd.
West Virginia is in fourth place, three games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.
Morgantown is in first place, 2.5 games ahead. Their season ends September 7th.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates are in third place, five games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.
The DSL Pirates are in fourth place, 4.5 games back. Their season ends August 26th.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 7-6 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates will now play four games at home against the St Louis Cardinals, where they will send Jameson Taillon to the mound for his 18th start. He has posted a 8.28 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. At home this season, Taillon has a 4.88 ERA in eight starts. He has faced the Cardinals twice this year and allowed a total of six runs over 11 innings. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright, who has a 4.87 ERA in 118.1 innings, with 96 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP. He faced the Pirates once this year and allowed one earned run over seven innings.
In the minors, Tyler Glasnow and Mitch Keller both start this afternoon. Glasnow still hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since being sent to Indianapolis. We will have more on Keller later this morning. Eduardo Vera goes for West Virginia tonight, as it looks like he will remain in the rotation despite being over his innings total from 2013-16 combined. He missed all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery. Shane Baz is scheduled to go in the GCL, while Travis MacGregor is scheduled for Bristol, so yes, it looks like a loaded day for pitching, which should make for a fun Prospect Watch. I took off the probable section for Morgantown because they stopped trying a few weeks ago, so no use listing TBD anymore, and I can’t really take a guess due to the All-Star break shaking up the rotation.
MLB: Pittsburgh (58-62) vs Cardinals (61-59) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.96 ERA, 36:132 BB/SO, 147.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (68-54) @ Buffalo (55-68) 1:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.57 ERA, 26:103 BB/SO, 68.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (63-58) @ Portland (58-61) 12:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.00 ERA, 3:13 BB/SO, 12.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (65-54) vs Daytona (45-72) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (58-60) vs Lexington (55-65) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.50 ERA, 12:89 BB/SO, 105.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (32-22) vs State College (29-25) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Rookie: Bristol (11-40) vs Elizabethton (31-22) 5:30 PM
GCL: Pirates (18-27) vs Yankees East (21-22) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (34-29) vs Rangers1 (38-24) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is Cole Tucker making an excellent defensive play on a well-hit one hopper to his right.
That wasn’t enough?
8/15: Gregory Polanco placed on disabled list. Elias Diaz recalled from Indianapolis.
8/15: Austin Meadows activated from disabled list. Jackson Williams assigned to Indianapolis.
8/15: Tomas Morales activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/14: Gage Hinsz activated from disabled list. Jake Brentz assigned to Altoona and placed on disabled list.
8/12: Phil Gosselin claimed on waivers by Texas Rangers.
8/10: Jhan Marinez claimed on waivers by Texas Rangers.
8/10: Nick King assigned to GCL Pirates.
8/9: Joey Terdoslavich placed on Indianapolis disabled list.
8/8: Matt Anderson placed on West Virginia disabled list. Blake Cederlind activated from disabled list.
8/8: Jerrick Suiter activated from Temporary Inactive List. Jake Brentz assigned to Bradenton.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including three who played for playoff teams and one who had a very brief career.
Chad Quall, 2012 pitcher. Came over from the Yankees at the trade deadline and really struggled, allowing 11 runs in 13.2 innings
Alex Cole, 1992 outfielder. The Pirates traded for Cole on July 4th and he went to right field, where he hit .278 in 64 games. Went 2-for-10 with three walks in the postseason.
Bill Landrum, closer from 1989 until 1991. Had a 1.67 ERA in 81 innings, with 26 saves in 1989. Had a 2.13 ERA the following year. Saved 17 games in 1991. Pitched three playoff innings between 1990-91, giving up one run.
Johnny Rawlings, second baseman from 1923 until 1926. Played 219 games for the Pirates, hitting .272, with 97 runs scored. Never won a Gold Glove, but he was an excellent fielder.
Arch Reilly, third baseman on June 1, 1917. His regular job was as a college math teacher and he didn’t join the Pirates until he was done with work that year on May 28th. He played one inning at third base in his only game, handling one play. He started at third base two days later in an exhibition game, which were often played during the season back then. Reilly was released to the minors the next day and he never appeared in the majors again.
His story coincides with a player named Marcus Milligan. During that exhibition game Reilly started, Milligan pitched the last four innings. That was the only game he played for the Pirates before also getting released to the minors with Reilly. Unfortunately for Milligan, he never got a chance to get into a real MLB game. He passed away in 1918 in a plane crash while training for WWI at the age of 22. You can read more about Milligan here.
On this date in 1971, Bill Mazeroski doubles for his 2,000th hit. He becomes the seventh player to collect 2,000 hits in a Pirates uniform. Willie Stargell is the only player to reach that mark since. Roberto Clemente was previously the last one to reach that goal with the Pirates before Mazeroski.