We added the playoff push section back to the Morning Report today. For the next month, you can follow all of the minor league playoff races in that sections. The seasons for each team end between August 25th and September 3rd, which I’ve noted more specifically for each team below. We will also update the Pittsburgh Pirates wild card chase in that section. For those who are new here, we continue the Morning Report each morning until the final minor league playoff game has been played. Then it hibernates until Opening Day of the 2019 minor league season.

I do this article every year right around now and it’s usually a lot more upbeat. This one starts out strong, but quickly gets ugly and does not end well. I update the playoff situation daily for each affiliate until they have been eliminated, whether it’s the last day of the season or three weeks before it ends. This year’s Playoff Push section is going to have a lot of “has been eliminated from the playoff race” after the team names a week or more before their season ends. No team has been eliminated yet, but only four of the nine affiliates have legitimate playoff shots. Here are the team-by-team situations.

Indianapolis is the only first place team among the nine affiliates. They have a 2.5 game lead, which was cut down a game last night when they lost to second place Toledo. Their season ends on September 3rd and they still have 30 games left.

Altoona is in second place in their division, but that’s enough for the playoffs in the Eastern League. They lead the second place team by two games and they have 32 games left to play in 31 days.

Bradenton and West Virginia play in leagues with split schedules, first half winners and second half winners. If the same team wins each half, the second best record gets the second playoff spot. The Marauders were in the first half race until late. They really aren’t in the second half race and three canceled games due to rain doesn’t help their cause. They are tied for fifth place (last) and trail by 9.5 games. Their season ends on September 2nd and they have 30 games left.

West Virginia competed hard for the first half playoff race, but they fell off late and that continued into the second half. They trail by 9.5 games in the second half, but the split schedule rule could help them. Lakewood won the first half and leads the second half. West Virginia has the third best record, six games out of second. That’s a lot easier to catch than the second half title, but still not great odds with only 29 games left.

Morgantown has the worst record in the New York-Penn League. Sure they still have 30 games left in a 76-game season, but they would need to pass five teams and make up 12 games in the standings.

Bristol offers up some real hope below Altoona. They have 28 games left over the final 27 days of the season, wrapping up on August 29th. They only need to finish second for a playoff spot, but first is still within reach. They trail first place by 6.5 games and second place by three games. The good news is that they open a series against the second place team tonight.

The GCL Pirates feel like their season just started, but you would probably be surprised to find out that they have only 19 games left. The final three clubs all finish on August 25th. The GCL Pirates are technically still in the playoff race, but they are tied for fourth place, trailing by nine games. They would need quite a run to make it. Their chances are better than the last two clubs though…

The two Dominican Summer League teams are just in the Playoff Push section due to courtesy. They are basically eliminated from the playoffs at this point, but we will keep track of it until it’s official. They each have just 20 games left in their season. See details below.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates are in third place in their division, trailing by 6.5 games with 53 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by four games.

Indianapolis is in first place and they lead by 2.5 games with 30 games left in their schedule.

Altoona is in second place and trails by six games with 32 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by two games.

Bradenton is in fifth place and trails by 9.5 games with 30 games left in their schedule.

West Virginia is in sixth place and trail by 9.5 games with 29 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team by six games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and they finish second.

Morgantown is in sixth place and trail by 12 games with 30 games left in their schedule.

Bristol is in fourth place and trails by 6.5 games with 28 games left in their schedule.

The GCL Pirates are in fourth place and trail by nine games with 19 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates1 are in sixth place and trail by ten games with 20 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates2 are in fifth place and trail by 15.5 games with 20 games left in their schedule.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates were off yesterday. Chris Archer will get the start in his Pirates debut tonight, coming off of his last outing on July 27th when he gave up three runs over six innings against the Baltimore Orioles. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander John Gant, who has a 3.49 ERA in 59.1 innings, with 50 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. In his last outing, he gave up two runs over 4.1 innings against the Chicago Cubs.

The minor league schedule includes five top 30 prospects. Brandon Waddell goes for Indianapolis. He was named as our Pitcher of the Month for July. Altoona’s Eduardo Vera has not allowed more than two runs in any of his last six starts. Dario Agrazal makes his third start for Bradenton, though his last one (three shutout innings) was wiped out when the game couldn’t be completed during the last day the two teams met this season. West Virginia’s Max Kranick faced the minimum over six innings in his last start. He gave up one hit, then picked-off that runner. Bristol’s Steven Jennings allowed five runs over 5.1 innings during his last start. It was his first start with more than three earned runs allowed this season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (56-53) vs Cardinals (55-53) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (60-50) @ Toledo (57-52) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.35 ERA, 39:23 SO/BB, 51.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (57-49) vs Akron (65-45) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (4.60 ERA, 34:13 SO/BB, 58.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (49-53) vs Clearwater (55-51) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (0.00 ERA, 2:0 SO/BB, 3.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (54-51) vs Augusta (53-54) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (3.95 ERA, 50:14 SO/BB, 54.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (17-29) @ Williamsport (18-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Michael LoPresti (5.08 ERA, 11:10 SO/BB, 28.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (18-22) @ Kingsport (21-19) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Jennings (4.97 ERA, 27:17 SO/BB, 38.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (16-19) v Tigers West 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (24-28) vs Brewers/Indians 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (20-32) vs Tigers2 10:30 AM  (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Indianapolis on Wednesday night, Pablo Reyes goes yard.

From West Virginia on Tuesday, Robbie Glendinning hits an RBI triple.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/2: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Pedro Vasquez activated from Altoona disabled list.

8/2: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Leandro Pina placed on 60-day minor league DL.

8/1: Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

8/1: Bralin Jackson activated from the disabled list.

8/1: Pirates sign Mason Fishback. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

8/1: Pirates sign Carlos Jimenez, Andy Maldonado and Franrielis Mercedes.

7/31: Pirates trade Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a PTBNL to Rays for Chris Archer.

7/31: Pirates trade Taylor Hearn and a PTBNL to Rangers for Keone Kela.

7/29: Ben Bengtson and Rodolfo Castro placed on disabled list. Raul Siri and Jhoan Herrera added to West Virginia roster.

7/29: Erich Weiss activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/28: Pirates sign Justin Morris. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/28: Josh Smoker claimed off waivers by Detroit Tigers

7/28: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Jose Osuna recalled from Indianapolis.

7/28: Corey Dickerson placed on disabled list. Austin Meadows recalled from Indianapolis.

7/27: Pirates option Michael Feliz to Indianapolis. Recall Alex McRae

7/27: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/26: Deon Stafford placed on disabled list. Rafelin Lorenzo activated from West Virginia DL.

7/26: Francisco Cervelli activated from DL. Jacob Stalling optioned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Pirates recall Adam Frazier. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

7/24: Erich Weiss assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a managerial change of note. The players start with shortstop Kevin Elster, who signed as a free agent in 1997, but broke his wrist in mid-May and missed the rest of the season. Mackey Sasser, catcher for Pirates in 1987 and in 1995. The Pirates acquired him at the 1987 trading deadline for Don Robinson, then flipped him to the Mets the next spring for Randy Milligan. He didn’t last long as a free agent signing in 1995, getting released in May.

Sid Bream, played first base for the Pirates from 1985 until 1990 and then I’m not sure what happened to him, probably something I’m just trying to forget.

Jim Gott, relief pitcher from 1987-89 and then again in 1995. Teammates with Sasser during both stops with the team. He had 34 saves for the 1988 team.

Gus Getz, third baseman for the 1918 Pirates. Had a forgettable time in Pittsburgh, but his career had two things that were noteworthy. He had 1,172 plate appearances in the majors and walked just 24 times. He also hit two homers as a pro and connected on them just eight days apart during a seven-year career.

On an off-day in 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a 36-67 record and decided to make a change, firing manager Bobby Bragan and hiring Danny Murtaugh to be the interim manager. Murtaugh led the team to a winning record(26-25) the rest of the way, and then three seasons later he skippered them to their third championship in franchise history. He would win 1,115 games as the manager of the Pirates and brought home another title in 1971, while also making the playoffs three other times.

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