PIRATES – CARDINALS TAKEAWAYS
The Pirates completing a three game sweep Wednesday night over the Cardinals, Juan Nicasio took the spring training momentum he built up into his first start of the season and shined, in allowing just two hits and one run over six innings in a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nicasio struck out 7 and walked none. The efficiency of each inning was very encouraging for Nicasio.
1st Inning: 15 Pitches, 10 for strikes
2nd Inning: 14 Pitches, 8 for strikes
3rd Inning: 15 Pitches, 12 for strikes
4th Inning: 12 Pitches, 8 for strikes
5th Inning: 12 Pitches, 9 for strikes
6th Inning: 15 pitches, 12 for strikes
Nicasio’s fastball velocity averaged 95 mph and his max velocity topped out at 98.9 mph on pitch 28 and late in his outing the velocity was still up, hitting 97 at pitch 67. A good sign for someone who didn’t pitch more than three innings last season and worked himself up as a reliever in 2015.
Nicasio relied heavily on his fastball and slider. Throwing 49 fastballs, 71% went for strikes.
— The Pirates first 3-0 start since 2007, saw them sweep the three game series from the Cardinals the way management has drawn it up in building this team.
Get to the bullpen and it’s game over. The use of Tony Watson in the seventh inning has been a new wrinkle with confidence Clint Hurdle and Ray Searage have in Neftali Feliz. Neal Huntington, arguably the best GM in baseball in building a bullpen, has likely done it again this season, while the whole mindset offensively has been putting together quality at-bats and not feast or famine at-bats that the Pirates felt last year’s lineup had too much of in the way they were constructed.
So far so good.
— Gregory Polanco had three walks in Wednesday’s win and has five walks in three games. Last season Polanco had just five walks through his first 102 at-bats. If this is a sign of things to come, look out.