Scahill sent to Florida for rehab; injury updates

Bill Brink about 1 hour ago

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rob Scahill traveled to the Pirates’ facility in Bradenton, Fla., to begin his formal rehab for the forearm tightness that sent him to the disabled list.

Scahill will throw a couple of bullpen sessions, then pitch in a simulated game Monday. He is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment Aug. 6 with Class A Bradenton, going two innings or 35 pitches.

***Gorkys Hernandez is eligible to come off the DL today, but he is still on his rehab assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis. Clint Hurdle spoke with Indy manager Dean Treanor Monday and will do so again Wednesday to determine what they’ll do with Hernandez. 

***Pirates prospects will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League this year, along with players from the White Sox, Astros, Dodgers and Phillies systems. Class AA Altoona pitching coach Justin Meccage will be a Glendale pitching coach and Drew Scott will serve as an athletic trainer. Fun fact: Rod Barajas will manage the Peoria Javelinas.

***Gregory Polanco since the final game of the Cardinals series before the break: .326/.367/.522, seven extra-base hits.

“I know it was tough at some times because there's a lot of external noise and he wanted to do well and he wasn't,” Hurdle said. “He probably had some anxiety. He's played through that and he played his best baseball, for me, that he's ever played in a Pirate uniform. We can finally stop talking about the first two weeks up. This is much better than that.”

Polanco has said a shorter swing helped his improvement.

“It's the only way he'll have offensive success,” Hurdle said. “The more length to the swing, the more problematic it is for him. It's very difficult for him to maintain and catch up to plus velocity [with a long swing], and we've got a whole game full of plus velocity now, 95 and higher. And then you get exposed with the breaking balls down, whether it be curveballs, sliders back foot, there's just too much going on. Those long levers he's got, it's really not going to work. We've seen some periods of time when it just wasn't working.”

***Hurdle on Twins DH Miguel Sano: “A lot to like. Powerful man, good swing. They talk about plate discipline. One of the names that got my attention was one of the guys dropped a Frank Thomas [comp] on him. That's impressive company. Just to paint a picture, big man with some plate discipline and power.”

***Scouting report on Mike Pelfrey: He throws a two-seamer 45 percent of the time and a four-seamer 28 percent of the time, both about 93 mph. ... Throws a slider at 85 mph, 12 percent of the time, and a splitter at 85 mph, 9 percent of the time. ... Slider usage increases to 18.5 percent against righties, only 6 percent vs. lefties. ... Has failed to complete more than four innings in three of his past seven outings, but pitched six innings and 72/3 innings in his previous two. ... Allowed a .338 batting average against in his past three starts.

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Pirates pre-game: Charlie Morton vs. Mike Pelfrey

Bill Brink about 2 hours ago

Game: Pirates (57-41) at Twins (52-46)

Time: 8:10 p.m. ET

Site: Target Field

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Weather: 81 and cloudy


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


1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Jung Ho Kang SS
6. Neil Walker (S) 2B
7. Pedro Alvarez (L) DH
8. Francisco Cervelli C
9. Travis Ishikawa (L) 1B
Charlie Morton RHP


1. Brian Dozier 2B
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Joe Mauer (L) 1B
4. Miguel Sano DH
5. Trevor Plouffe 3B
6. Eddie Rosario (L) LF
7. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
8. Kurt Suzuki C
9. Eduardo Escobar (S) SS
Mike Pelfrey RHP

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Stats Geek: Comparing the NL Playoff Rotations

By Brian O'Neill about 20 hours ago

Gerrit Cole leads the league in wins this season. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

The aces from two of the National League’s best rotations pitched Sunday. Gerrit Cole won his major-league best 14th game for the Pirates and Dodger Zach Greinke saw his consecutive scoreless streak stopped at 45⅔ innings in a well-pitched, hard-luck no-decision.

The Dodgers have the best front two, front three and front four among NL rotations with Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Bolsinger and Brett Anderson. The latter two aren’t aces but they’ve been solid enough with Greinke and Kershaw at the top. We’re stopping at four-man rather than five-man rotations because at playoff time that fifth guy won’t matter much.

What team is second to the Dodgers? The Pirates? The Cardinals? The Nationals? How ’bout those Mets? Those first three teams ought to make the playoffs and Mets also have a shot.

It says here the second-best front two belongs to the Nationals. The Pirates have a strong argument for the best front three, but it’s very close with the others, particularly because baseball is like Wall Street: Past returns don’t guarantee continued success. Going beyond three pitchers, St. Louis has the deepest rotation by far. 

Let’s take a look at the stats through Sunday. The two columns on the far right are Fielding Independent Pitching, which is based on outcomes that are in the pitcher’s hands: strikeouts, walks, hit batsmen and home runs; and Adjusted ERA, which adjusts for the ballparks the man has pitched in. (The average pitcher is at 100, and anything above 100 is above average.) All tabulations come from, with league leading stats in bold.

Dodgers               W-L     IP       H     ER    BB   SO   ERA     FIP    ERA+ 

Zach Greinke      9-2    138.1    91     21    24   120     1.37      2.62    268

Clay Kershaw     8-6    140      105    39    27    185    2.51      2.11    146

M. Bolsinger       5-3      84        71    26   28      75    2.79      2.78     132

B. Anderson       3-3     110.2  117    41   30      79    3.33      3.56     110


Pirates              W-L     IP        H    ER    BB   SO     ERA    FIP       ERA+

Gerrit Cole        14-4    132.1   115   33    28    130    2.24      2.70      165

AJ Burnett           8-4    131     135   39    34     110   2.68      2.94      138  

F. Liriano            6-6    120.2     82  39    42     136    2.91     2.98      127

C. Morton            6-4      64.2     64  33    20       36    4.59    4.57         81

The Pirates might have the biggest dropoff after their front three, but the Nationals and Mets should have concerns there, too.


Cardinals           W-L     IP        H    ER    BB   SO     ERA    FIP       ERA+

C. Martinez       11-4     119.1   99    31     48    121    2.34    3.41      160

John Lackey       9-5     131.1  130   39     32      94    2.88    3.45      130

Lance Lynn        7-5     109.1   100   34     34    119    2.80    2.68      133

*Jaime Garcia    3-3       48        35    9       7      32    1.69    2.98      222

Mike Wacha     11-4      118.1   103  43      29     99    3.27    3.30      114

*A. Wainwright   4-0       25        23    4       3      18   1.44     1.99      263

*Wainwright has been out since April with a torn left Achilles tendon but says he could pitch in the playoffs. Garcia has been out since late June with a groin strain but is scheduled to pitch tonight. It’s hard to say who their front three or four would be in the playoffs, but it’s easy to say they’ll be good.


Nationals            W-L     IP        H    ER    BB   SO     ERA    FIP       ERA+

Max Scherzer    10-8      143     103    37     16   166     2.33    2.35      159

J. Zimmermann   8-5      122.2  130    45      21    90     3.30    3.16      112

Gio Gonzalez      8-4      105.2  111    45      39    92     3.83     3.16       96

Joe Ross             2-3        32.2     28   11        3    34     3.03     1.84      123

Ross, 22, has done a good job subbing for Stephen Strasburg, who went on the disabled list July 5 with strained left oblique. Both Strasburg (5-5, 5.16 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 61 IP) and Doug Fister (3-6. 4.50 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 74 IP) have disappointed this year.

Mets                   W-L     IP        H    ER    BB   SO     ERA    FIP       ERA+

Jacob deGrom  10-6     127.1   89    37     16   166     2.33    2.35       159

Matt Harvey        9-7     125.1  106   44     31    116     3.16    3.69       118

N. Syndergaard  4-5       78.2   70    26     20     82     2.97    2.81       126

Jon Niese           5-9      115.1  124   48     35     74     3.75    4.31       100

Bartolo Colon     9-9      117.1  131   60     14     92     4.60    3.59         81

Five pitchers are listed here because it’s hard to say who the fourth-best Mets pitcher is. Colon, 42, started very well but has faded. He got the team off to a strong start, but it’s been the young front three who have carried the punchless team since.

Notable in their absence from this comparison are the world champion San Francisco Giants. Madison Bumgarner is still their ace (11-5, 3.16 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 131 IP) and Chris Heston (10-5, 3.18, 3.18, 119 IP) has been very good, too. But Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum all have ERA and FIP above 4.00.

You still don’t want to face Bumgarner in a wild-card game, though.

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Trade deadline updates: Monday

Bill Brink about 23 hours ago

Four days remain until the trade deadline. Johnny Cueto has found a new home in Kansas City. Tyler Clippard was moved, as was Shane Victorino. Let’s take a look at what the Pirates might be up to before Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

First, worth pointing out that shortstop Cole Tucker was removed from the low-A West Virginia lineup tonight. He was in it, and then he wasn’t. No telling if that means he is included in a trade or where he might be headed but worth noting. Tucker, Baseball America’s No. 8 prospect in the Pirates’ system and their first-round pick in 2014, was hitting .288/.318/.369 with two homers and 12 doubles this season. 

Update 9:27 p.m.: Jon Heyman reports that Tucker being removed from the lineup is not related to a trade.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heymanthe Pirates remain interested in Ben Zobrist. I reported last week that they inquired about him, but that was prior to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez. It would seem the need for Zobrist would be lessened now. Jung Ho Kang is doing fine at shortstop and while Sean Rodriguez isn’t providing much with the bat, he is a versatile utility defender. Because of how many teams Zobrist could help, Billy Beane will have his pick of offers, so a trade to the Pirates seems less likely than last week.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports the Pirates are likely to keep Pedro Alvarez after shopping him previously. I’ve heard that the Pirates have been open, to some degree or other, to moving Alvarez since the winter meetings in December, and his first-base defense hasn’t helped their cause. Finding a taker at this point is undoubtedly tough, and they have no one behind him internally to fill in. 

Other notes: High-A Bradenton outfielder Harold Ramirez was named the Florida State League player of the week. ... The Pirates promoted shortstop JaCoby Jones to Class AA Altoona. ... Steve Lombardozzi cleared waivers and was sent outright to Class AAA Indianapolis.

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Minor league report 7/26

Post-Gazette Staff 1 day ago

INDIANAPOLIS (58-44) defeated Louisville, 4-0 as RHP Chris Volstad (7-4, 3.26) scattered 5 hits and struck out 2 in 7 shutout innings. 2B Gustavo Nunez (.276) was 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI, while RF Andy Vasquez (.231) was 2 for 4 with a run scored.

ALTOONA (54-48) lost its third consecutive game to Akron, 2-0. RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-3, 2.43) struck out 12 and allowed 5 hits in 6 innings, but one was a 2-run homer. CF Adam Frazier (.364) had 2 of the team’s 6 hits.

BRADENTON (51-48) scored 2 runs in the eighth to defeat Clearwater, 6-4. RHP Tyler Eppler (2-1, 3.86) blew a save as he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in his only inning of relief, but still picked up the win. RF Harold Ramirez (.367) was 2 for 5 with a homer and 3 RBIs and CF Austin Meadows (.306) went 2 for 5 and scored 2 runs. DH Jin-De Jhang (.303) and 3B Wyatt Mathisen (.267) each had 2 hits.

WEST VIRGINIA POWER (57-42) lost to Hagerstown, 8-4. RHP Alex McRae (4-7, 4.71) gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss. DH Jordan Luplow (.250) finished 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBIs and a run scored. 1B Connor Joe (.225) was 2 for 4.

WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (20-16) won its ninth consecutive game, 4-3, over Staten Island. RHP Bret Helton (2-4, 4.61) took the loss as he gave up 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3. RF Ryan Nagle (.308) was 2 for 3 with 2 doubles, 1 RBI and scored a run, while 3B Mitchell Tolman (.241) was 2 for 3 with a triple and both scored and drove in a run.

BRISTOL (13-17) lost to Pulaski, 13-5. RHP Billy Roth (0-3, 5.84) started and did not allow a hit, but walked 4 and was tagged with 4 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning and took the loss. 1B Carlos Munoz (.400) was 2 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBIs and 3B Julio D La Cruz (.257) finished 2 for 4 and scored a run.

GCL PIRATES (14-11) did not play.

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