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Pre-game notes: How to handle a string of lefties

Bill Brink about 4 hours ago

MIAMI -- The Pirates are in a stretch of facing five left-handed starters in six days, presenting manager Clint Hurdle with another factor to consider as he plays musical chairs with his lineups. In addition to performance against lefties and righties, Hurdle and his staff look at several other factors.

“We've got projectables,” he said. “I've got a lot of make-believe numbers.”

For example: Hurdle felt Pedro Alvarez matches up well with Justin Nicolino, tonight’s starter, and Chris Rusin, who will start Saturday for the Rockies, so he’ll play him in those games to keep him fresh. 

“He's shown the ability to swing the bat against some of the left-handers,” Hurdle said. “It's his finest season at this point in time with the numbers swinging against left-handed pitching. This gives him tonight, he's had two pinch-hit at-bats, gives him tonight, going to play tomorrow against Gray, there's some continuity to some things.”

Then there’s Gregory Polanco, out of tonight’s lineup but hitting much better against lefties lately. His average against lefties by month: .200, .143, .083, .273, .286. First half: .152. Second half: .308.

“As he started creating some confidence and some success before the All-Star game, I think that's when you see the bulk of these numbers picking up, the pitches per at-bat numbers have gone up,” Hurdle said. “We even take it farther than that. We break down the left-handers, the type of release points and the angle of the pitches and which ones he's seen better than not.”

That is another of their factors: Looking at release points, angle of pitch, profile of pitcher (does he pitch inside or outside more frequently). They use that both to set lineups and to identify where the batters might need some help.

***Hurdle said Class AAA Indianapolis catcher Elias Diaz has positioned himself to possibly be a September call-up, but mentioned Tony Sanchez’s name in the same answer.

***Hurdle didn’t bite on a question about Tyler Glasnow as a September call-up. “It wouldn't behoove him or me to say that he could help us this year, not right now,” he said.

***Josh Harrison is returning to a super-utility role for now, to help Hurdle get everyone in the lineup and to get him more regular at-bats.

“I think that's the way we're going to start it, that's what we've talked to Josh about coming back in,” Hurdle said. “There'll be maybe some reps in the outfield. Based on the cast of players that we've put together, based on some of the successes some of the players have had in certain roles. It's always a challenge when a player -- he was playing pretty good baseball when he got hurt. The hard part of this game is to plug right back in at that level. Usually it doesn't happen. It takes some time. I believe the best way for us is to get him involved in a variety of different ways and bundle some at-bats and get the legs back underneath him by using him in different roles.”


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Pirates pre-game: Gerrit Cole vs. Justin Nicolino

Bill Brink about 6 hours ago

Game: Pirates (76-49) at Marlins (51-76)

Time: 7:10 p.m.

Site: Marlins Park

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Standings: Pirates in 2nd place NL Central, 4.5 games back of Cardinals; 1st wild-card spot, three games ahead of Cubs

Weather: Dome

**********

MIAMI -- Here are the lineups for tonight’s game.

Pirates

1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Francisco Cervelli C
6. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
7. Neil Walker (S) 2B
8. Jordy Mercer SS
9. Gerrit Cole RHP

Marlins

1. Dee Gordon (L) 2B
2. Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
3. Martin Prado 3B
4. Justin Bour (L) 1B
5. Marcell Ozuna CF
6. Derek Dietrich (L) LF
7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS
8. Jeff Mathis C
9. Justin Nicolino (L) LHP


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Minor league report 8/26

Post-Gazette Staff about 23 hours ago

INDIANAPOLIS (73-52) lost to Louisville, 3-0. RHP Vance Worley (2-1, 2.50) lost his first start since being sent down to the minors as he gave up 3 runs on 9 hits, including a home run, in 6 innings. LF Travis Snider (.400) singled to lead off the fourth for the Indians only hit.

ALTOONA (69-61) scored 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie before losing, 8-6, to Reading in 10. RHP Jhondaniel Medina (3-6, 3.00) took the loss after he walked in two runs in the top of the 10th. SS Adam Frazier (.330) was 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. 2B Erich Weiss (.319) was 3 for 4 and drove in the tying run in the 9th with a triple.

BRADENTON (67-61) did not play.

WEST VIRGINIA POWER (78-49) defeated Augusta, 4-2. LHP Stephen Tarpley (11-3, 2.49) gave up 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings to pick up the win. 2B Kevin Kramer (.000) walked twice and scored 2 runs. SS Kevin Newman (.290) went 2 for 4 with a double and 1 RBI and RF Michael Suchy (.287) had the team’s only other RBI.

WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (34-30) defeated Batavia, 4-2. LHP Cesilio Pimintel (2-2, 4.00) pitched 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief allowing 1 hit, walking 2 and striking out 5 for the win. RF Logan Hill (.303) was 1 for 4 with a triple, 1 RBI and scored a run.

BRISTOL (27-31) lost to Pulaski, 4-0. RHP Mitch Keller (0-3, 6.19) allowed 1 run on 1 hit, but walked 4 and struck out 5 in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss. C Tomas Morales (.295), RF Nick Buckner (.257), 3B Raul Siri (.250) and LF Henrry Rosario (.189) all singled for the only Pirates hits.

GCL PIRATES (27-29) lost their 10th consecutive game, 1-0, to GCL Phillies. RHP Shane Kemp (0-3, 2.12) allowed 1 run on 4 hits and struck out 2 in 4 innings of relief to take the loss. CF Michael De La Cruz (.263), C Yoel Gonzalez (.152), 2B Nelson Jorge (.179) and RF Eric Thomas (.220) each singled for the Pirates.


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Pre-game notes: Rest day for Cervelli, on Chris Narveson

Bill Brink 1 day ago

MIAMI -- Chris Narveson’s lack of significant workload affected the way Clint Hurdle set his lineup, one of the only times this year, Hurdle said, he considered that factor.

Narveson is making his first major league start since April 15, 2012. The 33-year-old lefty spent 2014 in Japan, started a few games in the minors this year and threw 44 pitches in his first major league appearance this season on Aug. 5. He has not throw more than that since.

“We're going to talk about it,” Hurdle said. “The one thing I think we're always cognizant of too is not having a different game plan at the plate every night for whatever particular pitcher. You make them aware of the information, what's at hand. There's also a thought process, this guy's only got whatever [pitches]. Forty-four means he can probably go, you can add on another 15 or more tonight.”

***Hurdle said he talked to Starling Marte about his lackadaisical pursuit of Adeiny Hechavarria’s double in the left-field corner last night. Marte made a casual, flat-footed throw to third as Hechavarria tried to take the extra base -- and still threw him out. Hurdle said Marte was justifiably cautious pursuing the ball because he had to make sure it passed a cranny on the left-field wall, but ...

“Could he have underestimated that player's aggressiveness? End of the day, he's out at third base with a perfect throw. Also a learning lesson along the way.

”I think he was cautious going to the wall, and then after that, you saw what you saw, write what you want to write.”

***Francisco Cervelli had today scheduled off, Hurdle said, before he took a foul ball off his right foot and jammed his left one sliding into a base.

***Rob Scahill, who is pitching for Class AAA Indianapolis while on a rehab assignment, will stay there and stretch out more, Hurdle said.

“Just because of the time down and where we are right now, I think we're best suited in both areas for him to continue to pitch,” Hurdle said.

If Scahill -- who had right forearm tightness but is healthy now -- stays on the DL until rosters expand Sept. 1, he essentially buys the Pirates an extra playoff-eligible player.

***Shortstop prospect Cole Tucker had surgery today to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure in Los Angeles. Tucker, 19, the Pirates’ 2014 first-round pick who was hitting .293/.322/.377 for low-A West Virginia, is expected to miss 10 months to a year. 


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Pirates pre-game: Jeff Locke vs. Chris Narveson

Bill Brink 1 day ago

Game: Pirates (75-49) at Marlins (51-75)

Time: 7:10 p.m.

Site: Marlins Park

Standings: Pirates in 2nd place, 4.5 games behind Cardinals in NL Central; first wild card spot, two games ahead of Cubs.

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Weather: Dome

**********

MIAMI -- Here are the lineups for tonight’s game.

Pirates

1. Josh Harrison RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Jung Ho Kang SS
6. Michael Morse 1B
7. Neil Walker (S) 2B
8. Chris Stewart C
9. Jeff Locke (L) LHP

Marlins

1. Cole Gillespie RF
2. Miguel Rojas 2B
3. Martin Prado 3B
4. Justin Bour (L) 1B
5. Marcell Ozuna CF
6. Christian Yelich (L) LF
7. J.T. Realmuto C
8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS
9. Chris Narveson (L) LHP


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