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 top five short season pitchers are also highlighted in a separate group, since most of those guys only go 4-5 innings max, and don’t have a good chance of being highlighted in the top ten. 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
It has been a while since Stolmy Pimentel has been the top pitcher in a given week. He started off the season as the top pitcher in the first two weeks, and was in the top three almost every week. But outside of those first two weeks, he hasn’t been the top guy in the system until this week. Pimentel went seven innings in his first start this week for Indianapolis, giving up one run on two hits, while issuing no walks and striking out two. He had another start this week where he gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings. It’s that inconsistency that holds Pimentel back and limits his upside. However, he could be added to the Major League starting pitching depth in the second half, especially if he has more starts like the first one. So far he has three starts where he went 6-7 innings with one or fewer runs. He has two starts where he combined to allow ten earned runs in 11 innings. In five starts with Indianapolis he has a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings, with a 25:10 K/BB ratio.
Andy Oliver is another guy who could be an option for depth later in the year. The problem with Oliver is that his control has been horrible lately. He had the second best score in the system this week after 6.2 shutout innings, but he walked four in that start. Oliver has a 51:52 K/BB ratio in 52 innings over his last ten starts. He has walked 62 batters in 63 innings since the end of April. In the month of April his control issues weren’t so extreme, and he looked like a starting candidate. If the Pirates needed a starter from Triple-A tomorrow, and if Brandon Cumpton wasn’t available, Oliver might be third on the list behind Pimentel and Kris Johnson.
As for Kris Johnson, he finished seventh on the list this week, giving up two earned runs on seven hits in seven innings. Johnson was our Pitcher of the Month last month, and continues to be a reliable starter for Indianapolis. If he’s not needed as a starter this year, the Pirates could certainly use him as a third lefty out of the bullpen.
The GCL Pirates had four players in the top ten this week. Jon Sandfort was third, Miguel Rosario was tied for fourth, Wei-Chung Wang was sixth, and Cesilio Pimentel was eighth. I’ll detail those pitchers in the short-season section.
Jameson Taillon was tied for the fourth best start of the week. On Sunday he went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits, with no walks and six strikeouts. Taillon had another start earlier in the week, giving up two runs on four hits in 4.1 innings of work. I’m guessing he will be in Indianapolis by the end of the year, probably just in time to help them with their playoff run.
Graham Godfrey has been pitching in the Indianapolis rotation lately due to all of the starters that have been needed in the majors. He had a good start this week, giving up one run in six innings for the ninth best start of the week.
Robby Rowland and Cesar Lopez tied for the tenth best game score, although neither started their game. Rowland came in after one inning and gave up one earned run in six innings of work. Lopez was piggybacking and went three shutout innings with one hit, one walk, and four strikeouts.
The GCL Pirates had a huge week this week, with four of the top ten pitchers. That comes with the asterisk that the GCL is the most pitcher friendly league in the minors, although there are some impressive prospects in the bunch.
I was really impressed with what I saw out of Jon Sandfort. I wrote about Sandfort after seeing his start this week where he threw four no-hit innings, striking out six. He looks like he could be the next prep pitcher to watch after breakouts from Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham.
I haven’t seen Wei-Chung Wang outside of extended Spring Training, but the reports I’ve gotten on him have been positive. He went four shutout innings with four strikeouts, and features good command and a good mix of pitches with the potential for three major league average pitches.
Miguel Rosario and Cesilio Pimentel don’t have the same upsides as Sandfort and Wang, but both have good arms at their ages. Rosario is a right-hander who tops out at 92. Pimentel is a lefty who sits 88-91 MPH.
Cesar Lopez was the fifth short-season pitcher on the list this week with his piggy back work after a rain delay suspended Cody Dickson’s start.
The Bottom Five
Brooks Brown is another guy in Indianapolis who has moved to the rotation due to a lack of arms. He has been good for the most part this year, but struggled this week for the worst start in the system.
Adrian Sampson has good stuff, but has been hit around in Bradenton this year. This week he gave up six runs on nine hits in four innings, which followed another bad start where he gave up five runs in 5.2 innings of work.
John Kuchno profiles more as a reliever, but has been used as a starter due to the “best arms in the rotation” strategy. He had a bad start this week and has been inconsistent on the year. It’s unlikely that he’ll be moved out of the rotation any time soon.
Short-season pitchers don’t get many innings, so it’s harder to get a good game score, and really easy to get a bad one. Isaac Sanchez and Shane Carle both finished in the bottom five this week. Sanchez gave up two runs in two innings of work. Carle gave up three runs on seven hits in four innings.