Clinched: How the 2015 Pirates made it back to Buctober

It’s official: with a victory over the Rockies on Wednesday night, the Pirates have sealed their third consecutive playoff berth. Yes, it’s the third year in a row that the Bucs have clinched on September 23rd. Turning into the best day of the year.

Further, it’s now the third time that the Pirates have appeared in the postseason three years in a row:

Pirates Consecutive Playoff Appearances
(The playoff format expanded to two rounds in 1969… Three rounds in 1994… And expanded Wild Card in 2012.)

In 2013, the feeling was pure joy; finally, the playoffs were back in Pittsburgh. Last year, it was almost relief; the Pirates hovered around .500 for more of the season than we would have liked (they were only three games over on September 3rd), but a late run proved that the previous season wasn’t exactly a fluke. This team had what it took to be among the league’s best.

This season, though, the feeling is a little different. They expected to be here. They’re not celebrating as much yet, at least not publicly all-out. Chasing the Cardinals all year has, once again, been unsatisfying, and the thought of another do-or-die Wild Card game is not exactly flattering. This team, despite having the second best record in all of Major League Baseball, has spent exactly zero days in first place. That’s just too bad: they could finish with or near triple-digit wins to be the best Bucco club since at least the early 1990s.

Still, many teams would love to be in the Bucs’ position right now. It’s an awesome accomplishment. Regardless of what happens next month, this has been another great year for the team. Let’s take a look at how they got here.

Continue reading “Clinched: How the 2015 Pirates made it back to Buctober”

Bucco Bullpen Report 4/23/15

pirates bullpen april 23

A look at the Pirates’ bullpen usage through 16 games. Green = good, relative to the rest of the bullpen; red = bad. 

Tony Watson, as usual, has 1) been good and 2) been relied upon. Tied for the most relief appearances in baseball, he’s pounding the strike zone and has yet to issue a walk. His two-inning save against the Cubs on Wednesday night was particularly important/impressive. The two killers for Watson: Todd Frazier‘s home run on Opening Day, and Welington Castillo‘s home run on Tuesday night, hence the not-great ERA/FIP so far. Other than those two, however: spotless.

Jared Hughes struggled on Wednesday night, but otherwise has been a horse. He’s actually striking people out — it took him 21 appearances to collect 10 K in 2014, but he’s already accomplished that through nine outings so far. Pair that with his usual dose of ground balls, and Hughes has been an important bridge from the starters to late-inning relievers in the early going.

Arquimedes Caminero‘s name is familiar to Pirate fans by now, thanks to his flame-throwing right arm. Not only is he getting called upon often, he’s getting the job done (for the most part). Caminero’s getting a ton of strikeouts and ground balls, and his role may only increase from here.

mark melancon

– After being a sure-thing in his first two seasons as a Pirate, Mark Melancon‘s early performance has been concerning to say the least. His ugly velocity loss has been well-documented, while his strikeouts are down and walks are up. Melancon was more effective on Thursday afternoon — he was locating particularly well, and velocity isn’t everything if you can do that… but it’s still a very notable trend to keep an eye on moving forward. They’re saying he’s healthy and will keep his job, but if he’s not, that’s a serious problem for both Melancon and the Pirates.

– Where is Antonio Bastardo? He’s faced only 15 batters thus far, nine of which came in low-leverage situations. There was a need for Hurdle to have a second lefty in his bullpen, but there seems to be a lack of trust early on… This report via Rob Biertempfel late in spring training wasn’t exactly glowing: “A longtime NL scout, who has watched Antonio Bastardo from Class A to the majors, wonders if the lefty can handle pressure situations. “If he comes into the game when you’re either two runs ahead or two behind, his stuff is excellent,” the scout said. “However, when he comes into a tie game or you’re one run ahead, he tries too hard, and he walks everybody. It drives you crazy, and that’s why he was available. To me, he’s better in the middle (innings) than he is as a setup or closer.” There’s a dramatic split between Bastardo’s numbers in low-leverage (.116 BAA, .353 OPS, 3.83 SO/BB) and high-leverage (.270 BAA, .844 OPS, 1.60 SO/BB) roles.”

The Pirates will head out to Arizona to begin a nine-game road trip on Friday.

Go Bucs

Saturday Stat Sheet 7/12/14

– Andrew McCutchen put on another show last night — 2-for-3, a double, a homer. He’s up to a sensational .321/.418/.552 line on the year; he’s hitting .351 with a 1.115 OPS since June 1st. Wow.

– Ugly throwing errors aside, Pedro Alvarez is batting .285 since Memorial Day. And his home run on Friday night was a thing of beauty.

Neil Walker saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end last night. Neil in July: .306/.381/.528.

Gregory Polanco is in the midst of a slump, going hitless over the last three games (13 at-bats). He’s slashing .277/.363/.364 through his first 30 MLB games.

– After going 0-for-4 on Friday, Josh Harrison is hitting just .241 with a .632 OPS since June 19th. He’ll get a night off on Saturday.

– An awful performance — rare for Tony Watson — doomed the Pirates in the eighth inning last night. He gave up five hits — as many as he allowed in his previous 10 appearances. He allowed three runs — as many as he had surrendered since April 19th (36 appearances). Just totally unlike what we’ve seen from the All-Star lefty this season.

– The Bucs’ best right-handed reliever, Mark Melancon, hasn’t pitched in a week. Bullpen usage can be found here.


Offense through 93 games:

Rk Pos Name G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1 C Russell Martin 54 228 24 52 8 0 5 29 3 .283 .414 .408 .822 135
2 1B Ike Davis* 72 246 25 50 10 0 4 23 0 .242 .358 .348 .706 102
3 2B Neil Walker# 79 333 37 82 12 1 12 41 2 .276 .346 .444 .791 123
4 SS Jordy Mercer 85 306 33 70 14 0 6 28 1 .247 .287 .360 .648 83
5 3B Pedro Alvarez* 91 360 40 77 10 1 15 47 6 .241 .328 .420 .748 111
6 LF Starling Marte (40-man) 83 339 40 79 16 4 5 32 21 .256 .324 .383 .708 100
7 CF Andrew McCutchen 91 409 53 111 27 4 15 59 15 .321 .418 .552 .970 173
8 RF Gregory Polanco* 30 136 23 32 2 0 3 13 5 .271 .363 .364 .727 108
Rk Pos Name G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
9 UT Josh Harrison 77 259 34 71 14 4 5 27 9 .292 .329 .444 .774 117
10 RF Travis Snider* 78 166 12 33 2 1 4 14 0 .223 .303 .331 .634 80
11 1B Gaby Sanchez 66 158 17 34 11 1 5 15 2 .233 .291 .425 .716 100
14 C Chris Stewart 28 98 6 20 1 0 0 4 0 .238 .330 .250 .580 68
17 2B Michael Martinez# 4 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .286 .000 .286 -10
18 LF Jaff Decker* 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
19 Matt Hague 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
Rk Pos Name G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Team Totals 93 3609 382 819 137 18 82 368 66 .257 .333 .388 .721 104
Rank in 15 NL teams 5 5 14 8 4 3 3 1 4 4
Non-Pitcher Totals 93 3419 375 800 137 18 82 365 66 .264 .341 .402 .743 110
Pitcher Totals 93 190 7 19 0 0 0 3 0 .119 .157 .119 .276 -20
Rk Pos Name G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Pitching:

Rk Pos Name W L ERA G SV IP R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
1 SP Charlie Morton 5 9 3.10 18 0 113.1 50 39 6 40 94 115 3.63 1.182 3.2 7.5
2 SP Edinson Volquez 8 6 3.65 19 0 111.0 47 45 12 37 73 98 4.35 1.207 3.0 5.9
3 SP Gerrit Cole (15-day dl) 7 4 3.78 14 0 85.2 37 36 8 29 78 94 3.74 1.307 3.0 8.2
4 SP Francisco Liriano* (15-day dl) 1 6 4.60 14 0 72.1 40 37 8 36 77 78 4.01 1.452 4.5 9.6
6 SP Jeff Locke* 2 1 2.89 8 0 56.0 21 18 3 6 35 124 2.94 0.982 1.0 5.6
Rk Pos Name W L ERA G SV IP R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
7 CL Mark Melancon 1 2 2.43 43 16 40.2 11 11 2 6 36 147 2.58 0.910 1.3 8.0
8 RP Jeanmar Gomez 1 2 3.53 27 0 43.1 18 17 6 13 31 102 4.53 1.362 2.7 6.4
9 RP Tony Watson* 5 1 1.45 44 0 43.1 9 7 2 10 49 247 2.43 1.038 2.1 10.2
10 RP Jared Hughes 4 2 1.98 33 0 36.1 9 8 2 10 17 181 3.81 1.101 2.5 4.2
11 RP Justin Wilson* 2 1 5.03 39 0 34.0 20 19 2 18 35 72 3.51 1.382 4.8 9.3
12 Vance Worley 2 1 3.03 5 0 32.2 11 11 3 5 21 119 3.58 1.071 1.4 5.8
15 Stolmy Pimentel 2 1 4.43 11 0 22.1 11 11 3 11 25 82 4.24 1.567 4.4 10.1
19 Ernesto Frieri 1 1 13.50 6 0 4.0 6 6 1 0 2 29 5.37 2.250 0.0 4.5
20 Travis Snider* 0 0 18.00 1 0 1.0 2 2 0 2 1 28 7.12 3.000 18.0 9.0
Team Totals 48 45 3.73 93 27 841.2 382 349 79 278 675 96 3.92 1.274 3.0 7.2
Rank in 15 NL teams 8 8 10 6 7 10 10 9 9 14
Rk Pos Name W L ERA G SV IP R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Go Bucs

Monday Morning Links 7/7/14

Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson, and Josh Harrison will represent the Pirates and the National League in this year’s Midsummer Classic.

– A couple good weekend columns from Dejan Kovacevic on two of those All-Stars — how McCutchen is one of the best talents in baseball, and how there’s no measuring the size of Harrison’s heart.

– Watson is very deserving of the All-Star nod, writes Rob Biertempfel.

– In case you missed it, the Pirates claimed infielder Dean Anna off waivers from the Yankees on Saturday. He played a handful of games with the Evil Empire this season, his first taste of big league action. Anna’s hit .280/.380/.419 in his minor league career, mostly in the Padres’ system. Claiming him probably had something to do with …..

– … this: it was announced on Sunday morning that Clint Barmes had been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a groin strain. He’s out 4-6 weeks. Michael Martinez is up for the time being, with Anna taking his place in the infield at Indy.

– Here’s video of the ovation that A.J. Burnett received on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

– The Bucs signed their 11th round pick, right-handed pitcher Gage Hinsz.

– Shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones, drafted out of LSU last year, is on fire for the WV Power — he has six homers in his last 10 games, including two on Sunday.

– FanGraphs has the Pirates’ playoff odds at 44.5%.


NL Central Standings:

nl central standings

Second Place Bucs!


NL Wild Card Standings:

nl wild card standings

Here come the Pirates …


On Tap This Week:

Monday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Tuesday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Wednesday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Thursday @ St. Louis, 7:15 pm
Friday @ Cincinnati, 7:10 pm
Saturday @ Cincinnati, 7:15 pm
Sunday @ Cincinnati, 1:10 pm

Huge roadtrip before the All-Star break.


Go Bucs