Thursday’s TIOPS Inside Buzz Report
Should the Pirates be quite pleased at where they are in the standings on June 2nd?
At 29-23, they are second in the Central Division and tied for the top wildcard spot. The Pirates are the fourth highest scoring team in the NL with 260 runs scored and tied with the Cubs for first in the NL in on-base-percentage (.354).
Gregory Polanco has emerged as a star with 8 home runs, 36 RBI, while batting .310. Starling Marte is hitting .318. Josh Harrison is looking like Josh Harrison of 2014, batting .328.
All of this despite Andrew McCutchen looking like the Pirates third best outfielder as he nears age 30 and having a career low OPS of .789 through the first two months of the season.
The good news for the Pirates is that it’s Super-Two month and top pitching prospects who weren’t Major League ready two weeks ago suddenly are when the calendar hits June.
The Pirates only have one starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.30 and that’s Gerrit Cole. Their No. 2 starter Francisco Liriano is off to a rough start to the season with a 4-4 record, 4.63 ERA and walking a ton of batters with a 58/34 K/BB ratio.
The Pirates last season had four starters with a ‘WAR’ above 2.4, this season they don’t have one above 1.2. Entering tonight’s game they have a team ERA of 4.00.
Through 52 starts, the Pirates have received 26 quality starts.
Gerrit Cole 7 quality starts out of 10 starts
Jeff Locke 6 quality out of 10 starts
Jon Niese 6 quality out of 10 starts
Francisco Liriano 4 quality starts out of 10 starts
Juan Nicasio 3 quality starts out of 9 starts
A lot of eyes in the coming weeks will turning to top pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow. June is always the time where the Pirates top Major League ready prospects are “deemed Major-League ready” by the Pirates organization.
Days top prospects were called up in the past.
June 3rd, 2009 – Andrew McCutchen
June 16, 2010 – Pedro Alvarez
June 26, 2012 – Starling Marte
June 11, 2013 – Gerrit Cole
June 9, 2014 – Gregory Polanco
Taillon, 24, was the Pirates first round pick in 2010 (2nd overall) and six years later, of course barring another injury before his call up, the Pirates are finally going to get something from him.
While players taken after Taillon in the 2010 draft have become stars like Manny Machado and Chris Sale, who the Pirates almost took, it’s been a frustrating wait for Taillon.
4-2 with a 1.79 ERA, Taillon has been great in Triple-A Indianapolis this season. His last two starts, he’s allowed one run with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He’s throwing his three pitches better than he ever has. What’s interesting with Taillon is the Pirates had a set number of innings they wanted him to hit in Indianapolis before considering a call up. That plan would not have seen a call up until August but the organization’s consensus that is starting to emerge is that Taillon’s ahead of the curve and no longer internally on a set innings number the Pirates must see before a call up.
Glasnow, 22, is one of the best prospects in all of baseball that everyone knows about. 5-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 11 starts. 72/29 K/BB ratio. He earned his 5th win last night in throwing five shutout innings, but walked four batters and threw just 38 strikes on 74 pitches. The command and changeup continue to be the two others the Pirates remain leery about but it’s going to be sooner rather than later that both guys are up.
— Sidney Crosby’s overall game is just on another level right now. He has just 17 points but it feels like he has 35 in the post-season. That’s how impactful he is. But, let’s give the faceoff play a little bit of a rest. It’s getting nauseating on how much coverage it is getting. Even Crosby seemed surprised at how big of a deal everyone was making it out to be when he directs orders on offensive zone draws at least 10 times a game.
— Logan Couture leads the playoffs with 26 points. If you’re going to whine about Sidney Crosby, you better come out and deliver in Game 3.
— We’re always talking about the 09 comparisons, but there’s some 2006 type comparisons to the Carolina Hurricanes team that won the Stanley Cup with Jim Rutherford as General Manager. When Mike Sullivan was hired Rutherford mentioned he saw some Peter Laviolette similarities in Sullivan as he also made a coaching change in 2006 with the Hurricanes and in both situations the coach came in and completely changed the course of the season for their particular teams.
Maybe the most striking comparison is at goaltender.
In 2006 a 22 year old named Cam Ward was a backup in the regular season for the Hurricanes. He went on to take over in the first round of the playoffs, tied a rookie record with 15 playoff wins and won a Stanley Cup.
Matt Murray now 22 years old has 13 playoff wins and is two wins away from 15 wins and a winning a Stanley Cup like Ward at age 22.
— Jim Rutherford tried a lot harder for Andrew Ladd at the trade deadline than what was out there. Let’s just say the Penguins have some info that Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"