Perhaps one of the most interesting roster decisions the Pirates will have coming up will be with JT Brubaker. The tall, skinny right-hander is Rule 5 eligible this coming offseason, and is putting up some impressive numbers lately in Triple-A.

Brubaker has been throwing in the upper 90s the last few years, and holding that velocity deep into starts. The problem is that he has been too hittable for a guy with his stuff, and hasn’t struck out a lot of batters in the process. He’s also had some control issues to boot.

That all has been changing lately. His start last night — one earned run on five hits in 6.2 innings, with no walks and five strikeouts — continued an impressive run. Brubaker has a 2.04 ERA in 39.2 innings over his last six starts, with a 34:4 K/BB ratio. He hasn’t given up a walk in his last three outings, and has 19 strikeouts in 21.2 innings during that time.

Brubaker has been throwing a cutter lately, which may be helping to lead to the better results. His improvements in control, and increase in strikeouts are both good signs, and what you want to see from a guy showing he belongs in the majors.

The Pirates have a lot of options who will need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. They have Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, and Jason Martin who all need to be protected. Brubaker leads the pack of the rest of the group, and seems like he’d be a good candidate to be taken and to stick in the majors as a reliever.

More importantly, he looks like he might have a shot at helping the Pirates in September. A guy who can throw 97-99 MPH in relief, and who has a new breaking pitch that is starting to show results, is a guy who you’d want to take a chance on and at least give a shot.

In a vacuum, it would be an easy decision for the Pirates to add Brubaker to the roster, either in September, or before the Rule 5 draft. The amount of players they need to protect this fall, plus the amount of relievers they’ve already added so far who have similar stuff as Brubaker, make this a more difficult decision.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by seven games with 44 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by four games.

Indianapolis is in first place and they lead by 3.5 games with 22 games left in their schedule.

Altoona is in second place and trails by 2.5 games with 23 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by 3.5 games.

Bradenton is in sixth place and trails by 14.5 games with 21 games left in their schedule.

West Virginia is in fifth place and trails by 9.5 games with 23 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team by three games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and they finish second.

Morgantown is in sixth place and they trail by 13 games with 21 games left in their schedule.

Bristol is in third place and trails by 5.5 games with 19 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team, which also gets a playoff spot, by two games.

The GCL Pirates are in fourth place and they trail by nine games with 12 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates1 are in fourth place and they trail by 11 games with 12 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates2 have been eliminated from the playoff race.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-0 over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. Joe Musgrove will get the start today, coming off of his outing on August 6th when he allowed one run over seven innings against the Colorado Rockies. The Giants will counter with right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, who has a 2.34 ERA in 73 innings, with 61 strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP. In his last start, he threw seven shutout innings against the Houston Astros.

The minor league schedule includes Tyler Eppler making his 24th appearance for Indianapolis. He is fourth in the International League with 125 innings pitched and leads the league with 12 wins. Altoona’s Scooter Hightower was ejected from his last start in the second inning due to throwing inside after a batter called time out. Pedro Vasquez makes his second start with Bradenton. He allowed two runs over 3.1 innings in his first outing. Morgantown’s Alex Manasa threw six shutout innings in his last start, with a career high of seven strikeouts. Bristol has a doubleheader today. The GCL Pirates and DSL Pirates1/2 all have off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (61-57) @ Giants (58-60) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (3.41 ERA, 56:19 SO/BB, 74.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (65-53) vs Pawtucket (55-61) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.67 ERA, 96:31 SO/BB, 125.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (63-52) vs Erie (55-63) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Scooter Hightower (4.66 ERA, 14:5 SO/BB, 19.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (50-61) vs Tampa (58-61) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (5.40 ERA, 4:2 SO/BB, 3.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (59-54) @ Rome (62-54) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Sergio Cubilete (5.48 ERA, 56:33 SO/BB, 64.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (20-35) vs Mahoning Valley (32-21) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex Manasa (4.23 ERA, 32:20 SO/BB, 55.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (23-26) vs Johnson City (21-25) 4:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Oliver Garcia (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP) and TBD

GCL: Pirates (19-22) vs Tigers West 12:00 PM 8/13 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (29-31) vs Rays2 10:30 AM 8/13 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (24-36) vs Colorado 10:30 AM 8/13 (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Morgantown earlier this week, Jhoan Herrera homers

and Travis Swaggerty hits an RBI single

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/11: Pirates recall Michael Feliz and Buddy Boshers. Clay Holmes and Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

8/11: Jin-De Jhang placed on temporary inactive list.

8/10: Pirates recall Clay Holmes. Option Dovydas Neverauskas to Indianapolis.

8/10: Afredo Reyes assigned to Altoona. Dylan Busby assigned to Bristol.

8/8: Luis Nova and Denny Roman promoted to Bristol. Yerry De Los Santos promoted to GCL Pirates.

8/8: John Pomeroy promoted to West Virginia. Alec Rennard and Argenis Romano promoted to Morgantown.

8/8: Rodolfo Castro activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/8: Josh Bell activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.

8/7: Pirates claim Buddy Boshers off waivers. Christopher Bostick designated for assignment.

8/7: Jackson Williams placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

8/7: Jin-De Jhang activated from Altoona DL. Bralin Jackson placed on disabled list.

8/6: Pirates acquire Adeiny Hechavarria and cash considerations From the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Seelinger.

8/6: Domingo Robles Promoted to Bradenton. James Marvel promoted to Altoona.

8/5: Dario Agrazal assigned to Altoona. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton.

8/5: Pirates recall Casey Sadler. Option Alex McRae to Indianapolis.

8/5: Zac Susi assigned to Bristol.

8/4: Pirates released Yair Babilonia and Garrett Brown.

8/4: Corey Dickerson activated from disabled list. Christopher Bostick optioned to Indianapolis.

8/4: Ben Bengtson and Deon Stafford activated from West Virginia disabled list. Raul Siri promoted to Bradenton. Jhoan Herrera assigned to Morgantown.

8/4: Austin Coley placed on disabled list.

8/3: AJ Schugel assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

8/3: Pirates option Steven Brault to Indianapolis. Recall Dovydas Neverauskas

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a recent one and four players born in the 1800’s.

Jose Tabata, outfielder for the Pirates from 2010 until 2015 when he was dealt to the Dodgers for Michael Morse.

Paul Carpenter, 1916 pitcher. He was signed by the Pirates in July of 1916 after his minor league team disbanded. He pitched just five games over the last 2 1/2 months, giving up one run in 7.2 innings.

Wyatt Lee, pitcher for the 1904 Pirates. Pittsburgh purchased his contract shortly before the start of the 1904 season. The Pirates tried to sign him as an amateur in 1899, but he started a bidding war between the Pirates and Reds and ended up pricing himself out of the range of both teams. In 1904, he was considered a major off-season acquisition for the starting staff, but he posted an 8.74 ERA in his 22.2 innings before the Pirates got rid of him in June.

Andy Dunning, 1889 pitcher. With injuries to their top two pitchers, the Alleghenys signed three young pitchers, one of them being Dunning. He lasted just two games due to poor control and the return of both Cannonball Morris and Pud Galvin.

Dan Lally, right fielder for the 1891 team. He played pro ball for 19 years, but lasted just two years in the majors, 1891 and 1897. For the Pirates, he hit .224 in 41 games.

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