Morning Report: Nick Kingham Takes the Mound Tonight in Must-Win Game

The playoffs yesterday showed a nice glimpse of the future for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Tyler Glasnow allowed one run on two hits over six innings and Mitch Keller gave up one hit and two walks over nine shutout innings. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they went down 2-0 in a best-of-five series, so they need to win these next three nights to advance to championship round.

That would make tonight’s start for Nick Kingham a fairly big game as far as minor league games are concerned. I said I’d rather see him in the majors back in August because he needs big league experience going into next year, but no use harping on it at this point. He’s in the minors still and a must-win game at home in the playoffs is still a much bigger game than you average minor league regular season game. Kingham pitched in the playoffs last year for Altoona, and to put it nicely, he was awful. He gave up four runs on four hits and four walks in 2.2 innings.

Tonight, Kingham faces a Durham team that hit him around back in July, scoring eight runs on seven hits and four walks in four innings. He also faced them in June and they put up six runs over 5.2 innings, so this isn’t a team he has had any type of success against this year. Kingham didn’t finish the season strong either, allowing 12 runs over 8.2 innings. So you have a pitcher who is coming off two poor outings, facing a team that hit him around twice, and his last playoff start was awful. What could go wrong tonight?

Durham counters with Burch Smith, who spent most of the season injured, then in High-A ball on rehab, so he did not face Indianapolis this season. Smith pitched part of 2013 in the majors with the San Diego Padres, but has pitched just 61.2 innings since then, partially due to Tommy John surgery costing him an extended time on the DL.

In the other playoff series, Altoona is sending Alex McRae to the mound tonight in Bowie. That’s an opponent he has faced often this season with success. Over four starts, he has allowed five earned runs over 29 innings (1.55 ERA). Three of those starts were in Bowie, where he gave up three runs over 21 innings.

Bowie will counter with Tanner Scott, who has pitched under a limited pitch count all season, after spending the 2016 season as a reliever. In 24 starts, he has worked between three innings and 3.2 innings in 21 of those games. His other three outings were 1-2 inning games. Scott has faced Altoona three times this season and each time he threw three innings of shutout ball.

** Elias Diaz lost his prospect status yesterday, almost two years to the day he made his Major League debut. He was mentioned as a sleeper prospect in our 2014 Prospect Guide, then had his breakout season in Altoona and jumped all the way up to #10 in the system in the 2015 guide. He ranked 8th the next year after making his MLB debut, then dropped down to 17th this season after all of his injuries last season. In our mid-season ranking this year, he was back up to #8, though he got a slight bump from three guys ahead of him graduating as prospects. You had a good run, Elias, but no 2018 Prospect Guide for you.

That’s the end of the prospect status updates this season. Max Moroff still has a good shot at losing his status, but that won’t happen (if it does) until after the minor league playoffs are over. As a reminder, the last Morning Report this year is the same day as the final minor league playoff game. With 21 games left, Moroff needs 42 more at-bats. You would hope he gets it, but Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco are due back today, so that’s going to make the at-bats harder to come by. As a side note, I have no idea why Polanco is coming back with nothing to play for (he’s already got his long-term contract) and the team out of playoff contention.


(Durham leads series 2-0)

9/6: Indianapolis 3, Durham 10

9/7: Indianapolis 0, Durham 2

9/8: Game Three VS Durham 7:15 PM

9/9: Game Four VS Durham 7:05 PM (if necessary)

9/10: Game Five VS Durham 1:35 PM (if necessary)


(Altoona leads series 1-0)

9/7: Altoona 2, Bowie 0

9/8: Game Two @ Bowie 7:05 PM

9/9: Game Three VS Bowie 6:00 PM

9/10: Game Four VS Bowie TBD (if necessary)

9/11: Game Five VS Bowie TBD (if necessary)


The Pirates trail in their division by 10.5 games. They are 7.5 games back for the second wild card spot.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 8-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night. The Pirates now travel to St Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals. Trevor Williams will be on the mound making his 23rd start of the season today. He has faced the Cardinals twice this season, allowing one earned run over 5.2 innings in mid-July, followed by eight earned runs over three innings last month. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Luke Weaver, who has a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings, with 45 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP. He threw two shutout innings of relief back on August 17th in his only appearance this season against the Pirates.

MLB: Pittsburgh (67-74) @ Cardinals (72-68) 8:15 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.14 ERA, 45:100 BB/SO, 134.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (79-63) vs Durham (86-56) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (4.13 ERA, 29:93 BB/SO, 113.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (74-66) @ Bowie (72-68) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.61 ERA, 36:89 BB/SO, 149.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (70-62)  (season preview)

Low-A: West Virginia (69-67) (season preview)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (40-35) (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (17-49)

GCL: Pirates (26-34)

DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)


Here is a home run by Gift Ngoepe on the last day of the regular season. He homered seven times during the season, including one while on rehab with Morgantown.


9/7: George Kontos activated from disabled list.

9/6: Jack Leathersich added to Indianapolis. Cody Dickson assigned to Bradenton.

9/4: Pirates claimed Jack Leathersich on waivers from Chicago Cubs.

9/3: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Christopher Bostick recalled from Indianapolis.

9/3: Austin Meadows placed on disabled list.

9/3: Anderson Feliz and Justin Maffei promoted to Indianapolis. Mitchell Tolman and Casey Hughston promoted to Altoona

9/3: Kevin Kramer assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

9/2: Kevin Kramer and Taylor Hearn assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

9/1: Pirates activate Wade LeBlanc and Joaquin Benoit from disabled list.

9/1: Hunter Owen added to West Virginia. Shane Kemp promoted to Bradenton.

8/31: Juan Nicasio claimed on waivers by Philadelphia Phillies

8/29: Mikell Granberry promoted to Bristol. Jason Delay promoted to Morgantown.

8/29: Brent Gibbs placed on disabled list. Raul Hernandez promoted to West Virginia.

8/29: Daniel Zamora promoted to Altoona.


Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a game of note. Starting with the most recent players first, we have 1994-95 pitcher Mike Dyer. He pitched 69 times out of the bullpen between mid-1994 and the 1995 season, both of which were interrupted by the strike. Dyer was put on waivers and lost to the Expos at the end of Spring Training the following season.

Jim Smith, 1982 infielder. Made the Opening Day roster after the Pirates traded away infielder Vance Law. Smith saw very limited playing time, hitting .238 with seven errors, serving as the backup for all three infield positions. The Pirates sent him to the White Sox after the season, where he was in the minors as depth behind Law.

Jim Bagby Jr., 1947 pitcher. He is famous for being the last pitcher in the game that ended Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Bagby only played one year in Pittsburgh, but he has an interesting footnote to his career. His dad Jim Bagby Sr. pitched for the 1923 Pirates. They both spent most of their career in Cleveland as well. The older Bagby won 31 games for the 1920 Indians team that won the World Series.

Val Picinich, 1933 catcher. Played 18 years in the majors, although he only played 1,037 games. Signed with the Pirates in June 1933, getting into 16 games. He caught 86 starts from Walter Johnson.

Rosie Rosebraugh, 1898-99 pitcher. Pitched four games as a September addition in 1898, then made two unsuccessful starts the following year. That was his only Major League experience.

Russ McKelvy, played right field for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on August 24, 1882. Went 0-for-4 in his only game. His only other Major League time was in 1878 for Indianapolis, where he led the league in games played. McKelvy played for the 1877 Pittsburgh Allegheny (no “S” at the end) of the International Association. That team/league is considered the first minor league ever.

On this date in 1909, the Pirates lost 4-2 to the Chicago Cubs, the team that trailed them by five games in the standings. In most seasons, the Pirates would be running away with the NL crown with a 90-36 record, but the Cubs were holding tough. This loss though would be the low point for the Pirates, as the next day they beat the Reds by a 3-1 score. That win was the start of a 16-game winning streak that put the NL title away at the end, and the season finished with their first World Series title.

  • RIP Gene Michael.

  • “As a side note, I have no idea why Polanco is coming back with nothing to play for (he’s already got his long-term contract) and the team out of playoff contention.”

    I too wonder the same thing.

    • There is nothing for him to accomplish. I’d rather see him go to Spring Training two weeks early than play anymore games this season. All this does is give him a chance to get injured again and shorten his off-season training

      • michael schalke
        September 8, 2017 10:38 am

        Yes, yes and yes!

      • He needs to completely overhaul his off-season strength and conditioning program. He has a bunch of issues- shoulder/elbow, hamstring…..who knows what else….