Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the average pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of May. The rankings include every pitcher who made at least four starts for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility. The Game Score listed is the average of all of their Game Scores for the month.
*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.
Pitcher of the Month
He had some tough competition, especially from some of his teammates in West Virginia, but Joely Rodriguez was the pitcher of the month for the month of May. The left-hander made six starts, combining for a 1.54 ERA in 35 innings, along with a 28:6 K/BB ratio. He had an average game score of 60.17, which was second only to Eliecer Navarro.
We covered Rodriguez twice this month. Tom Bragg saw him throw six shutout innings on May 8th. Rodriguez was doing a great job of commanding his two-seam fastball and sinker that day. John Dreker saw him on his worst start on May 30th, when Rodriguez gave up three earned runs in five innings.
Rodriguez has been working in the low 90s in most of his starts, touching 94 MPH at times. He throws a two-seamer, a sinker, and a slider and changeup in the upper 70s to mid 80s. All four of his pitches have a lot of movement, with all of his pitches cutting. A big problem in the past has been a lack of command. However, Rodriguez has done better this year in that department. He’s getting more ground balls, with a 2.08 GO/AO ratio, posting more strikeouts than last year, keeping the walks low, and not allowing a lot of hits.
The Other Candidates
Eliecer Navarro was a close runner up, posting a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings over six starts, with a 37:8 K/BB ratio. His average game score was slightly higher than Rodriguez, but that had a lot to do with the extra strikeouts.
Orlando Castro also kept things close, posting a 2.34 ERA in 34.2 innings, along with a 32:4 K/BB ratio. Castro had the highest game score in the system in two of the four weeks in May.
Tyler Glasnow also drew consideration for his amazing strikeout totals. Glasnow had a 3.97 ERA in 22.2 innings over five starts. He also struck out 41 batters in that span, which is amazing. On the downside, he walked 17 in those 22.2 innings, which was inflated by seven walks in 3.2 innings in his last start.