This is now the final full week of the regular season in the minors. For this morning, I’m going to do a quick glance at what is left for each of the eight affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Indianapolis is going to clinch their division soon. With nine games left on their schedule, they have a 6.5 game lead. They can clinch that spot with two wins during today’s doubleheader and a loss by Columbus. The other story line for Indianapolis will be the players they lose this week to the majors. The Pirates are going to call up some players on September 1st and they usually aren’t available the day before either, so we could find out who is coming up by Thursday.
Altoona has two goals for this week. They will clinch a playoff spot as early as today, but they are still batting for the home field advantage in the playoffs, going for the division title. They currently have a one game lead. Altoona basically has the same situation going that Indianapolis does this week. Altoona is going to lose players to Indianapolis to help fill in for the promoted players. One thing that might limit the players they lose is that Barrett Barnes and Jason Stoffel could join Indianapolis at that point. Both were rehabbing in the GCL last week.
Bradenton is now just playing out the string, losing their playoff chances in a tough way. Bradenton had all three games this weekend canceled due to rain. Since the minors don’t make up games, those three games are lost and now they don’t have enough games left to catch the first place team. It was an extremely slim playoff hope anyway, but still a tough way to get eliminated. The only real story for Bradenton now is who will move up if Altoona needs extra players. The Marauders finish up on Sunday, while all of the other full-season teams finish next Monday.
West Virginia is in third place in their division, just two games back. So they have some pretty important games this week, all on the road. There is also the case of Luis Escobar, who needs four strikeouts to match the team record for season strikeouts, set by Tyler Glasnow in 2013. Escobar has one start left. It seems like a safe bet he will get the record, but it still has to happen and he only has one shot to do it. He has struck out 5+ in each of his last eight starts.
Morgantown goes until next Thursday, three days longer than any other team plays this year. With 11 games left in the season, they trail the playoffs by three games. Their final two games are on the road in Mahoning Valley, which is the first place team in their division. They will likely see some reinforcements from the two teams below them.
Bristol is basically just trying not to lose three of the next four games to avoid a 50-loss season during a 68-game schedule in which two games were canceled by rain. Maybe 1-2 of their players moves up to Morgantown for an extra week of play.
GCL Pirates haven’t officially been eliminated from the playoffs, but they technically have been. They can catch one of the teams ahead of them, but they can’t catch both because those two teams play each other still. So all that is left for them is some player goals. Can Mason Martin lead the league in homers and set the team record? Can he lead the league in slugging, OBP and/or OPS? Lolo Sanchez leads the league in runs scored and should be able to hold on to finish first. Shane Baz, Steven Jennings and Cody Bolton each make their final starts. Will anyone move up to Morgantown for some extra games?
DSL Pirates saw their season end on Saturday, well, actually Friday due to a rain out. I guess they could watch some DSL playoffs if they wanted to do that.
The Pirates trail in their division by seven games. They are 8.5 games back for the second wild card spot.
Indianapolis is in first place with a 6.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.
Altoona is in first place with a one game lead. The top two teams make the playoffs. Their season ends September 4th.
Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoffs
West Virginia is in third place, two games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.
Morgantown is in second place, three games back. Their season ends September 7th.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates are in third place, six games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.
The DSL season is over.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-2 over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon. They now travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs and will send Trevor Williams to the mound today for his 21st start. He has posted a 3.78 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break and a 4.85 ERA in nine starts and three relief appearances on the road this season. Williams has allowed eight earned runs over 13.2 innings against the Cubs this season. The Cubs will counter with lefty Mike Montgomery, who has a 3.43 ERA in 102.1 innings this season, with 81 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. He faced the Pirates three times in relief earlier this season, giving up two runs over five innings.
In the minors, Indianapolis has a doubleheader and can clinch their division as early as today. Altoona starter Alex McRae ranks fourth in the Eastern League with 138.2 innings pitched. Bradenton had their game rained out yesterday, leading to it being canceled. They also had Friday’s suspended game canceled and the stats from the first four innings of that game will not count in the season stats. They will attempt to play a doubleheader against a different team today. Tenth round pick Beau Sulser gets the start for Morgantown and Travis MacGregor will start for Bristol. The DSL season is over. West Virginia has off today.
MLB: Pittsburgh (63-68) @ Cubs (69-60) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.40 ERA, 41:91 BB/SO, 122.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (74-59) @ Louisville (52-81) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
AA: Altoona (70-62) @ Richmond (58-74) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.76 ERA, 33:83 BB/SO, 138.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (67-58) @ Tampa (79-49) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.41 ERA, 35:82 BB/SO, 108.1 IP) and Cam Vieaux (4.46 ERA, 21:44 BB/SO, 72.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (64-65) @ Lakewood (69-64) 7:05 PM 8/29 (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.50 ERA, 14:103 BB/SO, 118.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (35-30) vs State College (34-31) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Rookie: Bristol (15-47) vs Kingsport (28-34) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (23-31) vs Braves (29-25) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)
Here is Brandon Waddell finishing off his six shutout innings from last week with a strikeout.
8/27: Barrett Barnes assigned to Bradenton.
8/26: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Elias Diaz recalled from Indianapolis.
8/25: Francisco Cervelli activated from the disabled list. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis.
8/23: Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates select the contract of Angel Sanchez.
8/23: Cody Dickson promoted to Indianapolis.
8/23: Gage Hinsz placed on disabled list.
8/23: Braeden Ogle placed on the disabled list.
8/23: Arden Pabst placed on disabled list. Henrry Rosario promoted from Bristol to West Virginia.
8/22: Joaquin Benoit and George Kontos placed on disabled list.
8/22: Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. Steven Brault, Edgar Santana and Johnny Barbato recalled from Indianapolis.
8/22: Hunter Owen and Jason Stoffel assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
8/21: Pirates option Jacob Stallings to Indianapolis.
8/21: Brandon Cumpton promoted to Indianapolis. Jacob Brentz activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/21: John Bormann assigned to Bradenton.
8/20: Pirates recall Jacob Stallings.
8/20: Trae Arbet placed on disabled list. Shane Kemp assigned to West Virginia.
8/19: Steven Brault optioned to Indianapolis. Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis.
8/19: Barrett Barnes assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
8/19: Max Kranick promoted to Bristol.
8/19: John Bormann assigned to Indianapolis.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades of note. Starting with the transactions, we have the 1996 deal that brought Jason Schmidt to the Pirates in exchange for Denny Neagle. The two pitchers both had their moments for their new club, but the Pirates got nothing from the two minor league players that were thrown into the deal. The Pirates got Ron Wright and Corey Pointer, adding a lot of power to the farm system, though neither made the majors with the Pirates. Wright actually did get called up, but injured his wrist and never played.
On this date in 1988, the Pirates traded for Ken Oberkfell. They sent Tommy Gregg to the Braves four days later and received cash in return. Oberkfell was known as a decent hitter with a strong glove, but he hit just .181 in 34 games for the Pirates.
Former players born on this date include:
T.J. Beam, 2008 relief pitcher. Had a 4.14 ERA in 45.2 innings over 32 appearances.
Mark Ryal, 1990 outfielder. He went 1-for-12 in nine late-season games.
Wally Roettger, 1934 outfielder. The Pirates acquired him in a four-player trade with the Reds. He hit .245 in 47 games with Pirates.
Charlie Grimm, first baseman from 1919 until 1924. He hit .286 in 770 games with the Pirates, driving in 369 runs. He was sent to the Cubs in a six-player deal after the 1924 season, which was covered here. The deal included the Pirates’ all-time win leader Wilbur Cooper and Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville.
Bill Stuart, 1895 shortstop. Hit .247 in 19 late-season games for the Pirates.