Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten and the bottom five starts are broken down below the chart. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.
*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.
The Top Ten
For the second week in a row, Stolmy Pimentel is at the top of this list. In week one, Pimentel threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts for the highest game score. This week’s score was slightly lower, despite 6.1 shutout innings and seven strikeouts. That’s because he allowed more walks and hits, but still a great amount. It’s not surprising to see Pimentel off to such a great start. He looked good in Spring Training, and you could make the argument that the big difference between his numbers last year and his hot start this year is the development of his slider. This is what you want to see out of Pimentel, since he’s got one option remaining and will need to be in the majors full-time next year. Between Mark Melancon’s start as the set-up man in Pittsburgh, and Pimentel looking like a potential breakout/rebound prospect, plus Joel Hanrahan struggling and injured in Boston, the return on that trade is starting to look really good. That’s even when you consider that Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr. aren’t even hitting in Triple-A.
Another thing you want to see is Tyler Glasnow getting off to a hot start. Glasnow had two starts this week, and showed the two different sides to his game. Last Monday he was dominant, putting up the second best game score of the week. In his second start he had horrible control, leading to an early exit. The game score wasn’t horrible, since he only allowed one hit and struck out four in 2.2 innings. Glasnow has a ton of potential, but is also getting adjusted to his tall frame which occasionally leads to issues repeating his mechanics. He’ll need to avoid that as much as possible to avoid the second start, and be more like the first start from last week.
Before he was called up for his major league debut, Phil Irwin had another solid outing for Indianapolis. Irwin threw six innings, allowing one run, and only walking one. That control wasn’t there for him in the first two innings of his major league debut, which led to a rough start.
Because Irwin was promoted, and because of a double-header and a few other moves that affected the Indianapolis rotation, Brooks Brown got a start on Saturday. Brown pitched about as well as you’d hope for in a situation where the entire Indianapolis pitching staff was depleted. He threw four shutout innings, combining for a seven inning one hitter in game two of the double-header.
Andy Oliver added to the strong pitching from Indianapolis this week, throwing five shutout innings in his first start. His second outing didn’t do so well, with five runs in 4.1 innings. That outing just missed the bottom five list. You can read about that one in John Fredland’s game recap from Sunday.
Orlando Castro and Clay Holmes joined Tyler Glasnow as West Virginia pitchers in the top ten. Castro threw four shutout innings, while Holmes threw five. Between the two, Holmes has a much bigger ceiling. Castro is a smaller lefty with great breaking stuff, which usually plays better in the lower levels.
It’s always good when Jameson Taillon shows up on this list. You’d think Taillon would have been higher due to his ten strikeouts, but he also gave up two runs, five hits, and three walks. It’s still a dominant performance, and something you’d want to see from Taillon every time out there.
Kris Johnson had another good start, and looks to be carrying over his success from the Dominican Winter Leagues. You can read about Johnson’s start, and the Brooks Brown outing, in John Fredland’s game recap from Saturday.
Tyler Waldron is another guy who had two completely different starts. His start on Sunday rounded out the top ten starts for the week. His start earlier in the week finished around the middle of the pack. Waldron wasn’t as split as guys like Glasnow or Oliver. His “bad” start wasn’t that much different than his good start. He gave up two additional runs, but the walks and hits were about the same.
The Bottom Five
Kyle McPherson had one of the lowest scores I’ve ever seen since doing this feature. That’s not saying a lot, since I only did this for about a month last year. After his outing he went on the disabled list. You don’t want to see any player get injured, but this is one of those cases where finding an injury is kind of a relief. That explains the horrible start to the year for McPherson, and is a much better alternative to there being no injury and McPherson having a problem that can’t be fixed as easily.
John Kuchno has a lot of potential as a power reliever, but so far he’s struggled as a starter, finishing with the second worst score this week. The Pirates will probably keep him in the rotation for the short-term, just to get him the most innings possible.
All of the Bradenton starters struggled this week, which is in big part to the poor defense behind them. Nick Kingham was the only one who finished in the bottom five, getting hit for five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings.
Joely Rodriguez had two rough outings this week. One of them was the seventh worst game score, while the other one finished in the bottom five. Rodriguez had a good debut, and is a promising left-hander, but does struggle with the command of his pitches.
Brandon Cumpton rounded out the bottom five, but despite the poor start he was promoted to Indianapolis. That’s more a result of the lack of options in Triple-A right now, as opposed to a strong performance from Cumpton. He did have a good season in 2012 with Altoona, so hopefully the first two starts are just a bump in the road.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.