Morning Report: A Look at the Remaining Minor League Schedule and Playoff Pictures

Today officially marks less than one full month left in the minor league season. We are adding the Playoff Push section back to this article so you can follow the teams until they either clinch a playoff spot or get eliminated from the playoffs. I’ll start by saying it’s going to be a lot more of the former, as only one team is in a really good spot for the playoffs right now.

In most years, checking the remaining schedule and playoff picture at this time shows you where possible promotions could be taking place. For example, if Altoona looked like they would make the playoffs and Bradenton didn’t have a chance, then you could see prospects get late promotions from Bradenton, so they could not only get a taste of Double-A, they get to play extra games. This year however, you may see just as many of these late promotions because no one will be held back at a level for the playoffs. So they still get that taste of better competition, without the extra games or missing games.

Here’s the remaining games by teams and their playoff outlook, followed by the Playoff Push section returning. We usually include the Pirates in the Playoff Push, but the Morning Report ends long before the Major League season does and we have something different planned for the Pirates, which will be in tomorrow’s Morning Report.

Indianapolis – The Indians have 30 games left. One thing of note is that the Triple-A season ends earlier this year than most years, so if Indianapolis doesn’t make the playoffs, then the September call-ups will all be up by September 3rd this year. Indianapolis is in the same spot for the division and the wild card, trailing by six games to Columbus and six games in the wild card behind three teams.

Altoona – The Eastern League switched to a split schedule this year and Altoona didn’t win the first half. They have 30 games left this season and trail by 11.5 in the division. In split schedules, if the same team wins both halves, then the second best overall record gets a playoff spot. That won’t happen here, as Harrisburg is buried in fourth place with a playoff spot already clinched. Altoona is basically out of it, but we will give them the courtesy follow anyway.

Bradenton – The Marauders have 31 games left. They play a split schedule league and missed the playoffs in the first half. They are in third place now, 7.5 games back. Not a great spot, but not hopeless either.

Greensboro – The Grasshoppers have 29 games left. They missed the first half playoffs and now sit six games back in the standings in third place. The good news here is that the same team that won the first half is winning the second. That means that Greensboro could be battling Hickory for the second playoff spot and they only trail them by 2.5 games.

Morgantown – The Black Bears have 30 games left, even with the All-Star break still coming up. They trail by five games in the division and four in the wild card, where they sit in third place. This is a spot where you could see players from Bristol or the GCL get moved up late for some extra time.

Bristol – The Pirates play a slightly shorter schedule, so they only have 26 games left and that includes a doubleheader. Their season ends five days earlier than the five teams already mentioned above. Despite a losing record, Bristol is far from out of the playoff picture. It’s a ten-team league and four teams make the playoffs, so it’s not difficult to get to the postseason. They are currently in third place, 4.5 games back and 2.5 out of a playoff spot.

GCL Pirates – The Pirates have 25 games remaining, though their season ends three days after Bristol, so it’s unlikely that you will see promotions from here to that level unless it’s based on need or Bristol makes the playoffs. The Pirates are in last place, 7.5 games back, so they aren’t making the playoffs. It’s enough time to make up 7.5 games, but not to also jump over five teams that will be playing each other often.

DSL Pirates1 – The Pirates1 have 19 games left and they trail by 18 games, so basically they are eliminated already. Only the division winners in the league make the playoffs. The good news here is that the Pirates have two DSL teams and players can switch teams, so the best players from this team can go to the playoffs with the other club.

DSL Pirates2 – With 19 games left, the Pirates2 don’t have a team within 15 games of them for the division title. They can clinch today, but more importantly, they aren’t far from clinching a first round bye in the playoffs, with a seven-game lead for that spot.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Indianapolis has 30 games left. They trail by six games in the division and six games in the wild card.

Altoona has 30 games left. They trail by 11.5 in the division.

Bradenton has 31 games left. They trail by 7.5 games in the division.

Greensboro has 30 games left. They trail by six in the division and 2.5 for the second best record, which could possibly get them a playoff spot.

Morgantown has 30 games left. They trail by five games in the division and four games in the wild card spot.

Bristol has 26 games left. They trail by 4.5 in the division and 2.5 out of the second playoff spot.

GCL Pirates have 25 games left. They trail by 7.5 in the division.

DSL Pirates1 have 19 games left. They trail by 18 in the division.

DSL Pirates2 have 19 games left. They lead by 18 in the division.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 8-4 over the New York Mets on Friday night. The Pirates will send out Chris Archer tonight for his 20th start. He had a 5.79 ERA in five July starts, including five runs over five innings against the Mets on Sunday. Archer has a 4.25 ERA at home and 7.14 on the road. The Mets will counter with Marcus Stroman, who posted a 2.96 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 124.2 innings with the Toronto Blue Jays. This will be his debut with the Mets. He had a 1.80 ERA in July.

The minor league schedule includes Cody Bolton getting the start for Altoona. He allowed one run over six innings in his last outing, striking out eight batters. That’s his high strikeout total since being promoted to Double-A. Max Kranick goes for Bradenton, making his league leading 21st start. He gave up one run over 5.1 innings in his last outing. Kranick has allowed either one or two runs in eight of his last ten starts. Brandon Waddell makes his second start since returning back to Indianapolis. He gave up five runs over six innings in his first game.

Tahnaj Thomas will be on the mound for Bristol. He threw five shutout innings in his last start. Thomas has a 32:1 SO/BB ratio over his last 22.2 innings. Eighth round pick Austin Roberts will make his second start. He gave up two runs over 3.1 innings in his first start. Roberts began his career with eight straight scoreless relief appearances. Will Kobos makes his second start for Greensboro. He served up four runs over five innings in his debut. The GCL Pirates don’t list starters, but Ryan Harbin, who signed an over-slot deal in the 17th round, should get his second pro start today. He allowed one run over three innings in his debut.

MLB: Pittsburgh (48-61) vs Mets (53-56) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.58 ERA, 116:51 SO/BB, 101.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (56-54) vs Columbus (62-48) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (8.50 ERA, 43:27 SO/BB, 36.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (55-55) @ Reading (65-46) 7:10 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (4.91 ERA, 25:11 SO/BB, 29.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (59-48) @ Dunedin (63-44) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (3.79 ERA, 78:30 SO/BB, 109.1 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (65-44) @ Greenville (48-62) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Will Kobos (7.20 ERA, 4:2 SO/BB, 5.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (23-22) @ Hudson Valley (27-18) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Roberts (2.12 ERA, 20:5 SO/BB, 17.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (19-22) @ Elizabethton (22-20) 6:30 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Tahnaj Thomas (4.07 ERA, 33:6 SO/BB, 24.1 IP)

GCL: Pirates (12-19) vs Orioles (19-11) 10:00 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (24-29) vs Red Sox2 (23-29) 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (43-10) vs Tigers2 (24-28) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona on Thursday, after being no-hit in game one of a doubleheader, Logan Hill makes the first hit of the night count

This GIF proves that Darnell Sweeney hit a two-run homer, though they cut the home run part of the clip down for some reason.

Nothing else was posted, so here’s the final pitch of Matt Eckelman’s 20th save

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/2: Pirates Designate Jung-Ho Kang for assignment. Recall Pablo Reyes. Activate Erik Gonzalez from injured list.

8/2: Nick Mears activated from Bradenton injured list. Ryan Valdes placed on Bradenton injured list.

8/1: Blake Weiman activated from Indianapolis injured list.

8/1: Austin Coley placed on Altoona injured list.

7/31: Pirates trade Corey Dickerson to Phillies for a player to be named later and international bonus slot money.

7/30: Oneil Cruz promoted to Altoona. Jerrick Suiter activated from injured list. Bralin Jackson placed on injured list. Gift Ngoepe released.

7/30: Pirates recall Geoff Hartlieb and Yefry Ramirez. Montana DuRapau and Alex McRae optioned to Indianapolis.

7/30: Elvis Escobar assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/30: Daniel Amaral activated from Bradenton injured list.

7/29: Jordan Lyles traded to Milwaukee Brewers for Cody Ponce. Montana DuRapau recalled from Indianapolis.

7/28: Darnell Sweeney assigned to Altoona. Alfredo Reyes assigned to Greensboro.

7/27: Pirates claim Parker Markel off waivers from Seattle Mariners.

7/27: Kyle Mottice placed on Greensboro injured list. Michael Gretler activated from injured list.

7/27: Angel German activated from suspended list.

7/27: Daniel Amaral sent to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/27: Tyler Lyons returns to Indianapolis from paternity list.

7/26: Pirates sign Lewys Guzman, Jose Vasquez, Pedro Figuereo, Juan Santos

7/26: Osvaldo Bido promoted to Bradenton. Noe Toribio promoted to Greensboro. Trey McGough promoted to Morgantown. Lizardy Dicent assigned to Bristol on rehab.

7/25: Pirates recall Alex McRae. Luis Escobar optioned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Will Kobos promoted to Greensboro.

7/24: Keone Kela added to Pirates roster. Clay Holmes placed on injured list.

7/24: Angel German suspended by Altoona.

7/23: Brandon Waddell promoted to Indianapolis. Nicholas Economos promoted to Altoona. Conner Loeprich promoted to Bradenton. Winston Nicacio promoted to Greensboro. Oliver Garcia promoted to Morgantown. Miguel Peralta released.

7/23: Luis Nova placed on Greensboro injured list. Nick Mears placed on Bradenton injured list.

7/23: Tyler Lyons placed on paternity list. Eric Wood placed on temporary inactive list.

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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