Morning Report: The Pirates’ System Has the Best Pitching Staff in Baseball Right Now

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best pitching staff in baseball, though it’s not the big league club. The Altoona Curve have got some great pitching this season, especially from their starters. In fact, they lead all of baseball in one important category. If you look at all 30 MLB teams and all 120 teams minor league teams currently playing, the best ERA belongs to the Curve pitching staff. After play on Saturday, they have a 1.94 ERA in 14 games. Tyler Glasnow went 5.2 innings on Saturday and allowed just one earned run. He continued the season-long streak of one earned run or less allowed by the starter.

The following is a list of the Curve’s five starters and their place among the Eastern League leaders in ERA:

1. Zack Dodson 0.00

3. Jason Creasy 0.56

3. Angel Sanchez 0.56

6. Tyler Glasnow 1.08

7. Chad Kuhl 1.13

That gives the starters an 0.71 ERA in 75.2 innings.

The Curve lead the league with a 1.12 WHIP, but surprisingly, they rank last in the league with 73 strikeouts. Strikeouts don’t always translate to success and the Eastern League proves that this season. The Bowie Baysox are the league leaders in strikeouts with 149, more than twice as many as the Curve. There is also another area where their total is more than twice as much as Altoona’s, and that is their 4.13 team ERA.

As for the other pitching around the Pirates’ organization, the Indianapolis Indians are also doing well, yet the are getting overshadowed by Altoona. The Indians have a 2.72 ERA, which ranks second in the International League. They have 133 strikeouts, which is the fourth highest total and their 1.19 WHIP ranks second in the league.

Bradenton is winning this year with offense. Their .758 OPS is the best in the league and they also lead in average, slugging and on base. The pitchers aren’t faring as well with their 4.10 ERA, which is the third worst in the Florida State League. Their 1.32 WHIP is also tied for the third worst in the league, while they are in the middle of the pack with 130 strikeouts.

West Virginia has the best record among the four teams in the organization. So it might be a surprise that they are 8th among the 14 South Atlantic League teams in ERA and last in strikeouts. Their 1.32 WHIP(same number as Bradenton) ranks ninth in the league. The Power’s offense ranks sixth in OPS, so they are playing a little above their heads with that 10-5 record so far.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks by a 2-1 score on Saturday night. It was their fourth win in a row. For the third day in a row, the Pirates and their minor league teams went undefeated, going a combined 14-0 over that stretch. Francisco Liriano gets the start today as the Pirates go for the sweep. He has 23 strikeouts in 18 innings this year.

In the minors, Adrian Sampson makes his fourth start and he has looked better in each of his last three outings. Angel Sanchez makes his fourth start, coming back early after his last game was limited to four innings due to rain. He has allowed just one earned run this year. West Virginia was rained out yesterday. They will play two games today and a starter for game two will be announced later. Jose Regalado will make his second start in game one. In his only relief appearance, he threw 5.1 no-hit innings. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (10-8) vs Diamondbacks (8-9) 4:10 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.00 ERA, 6:23 BB/SO, 18.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (9-7) @ Toledo (7-8) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adrian Sampson (2.76 ERA, 7:17 BB/SO, 16.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (9-5) @ Erie (6-9) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (0.56 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 16.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (9-8) @ Charlotte (12-5) 3:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (1.69 ERA, 4:14 BB/SO, 16.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (10-5) vs Lexington (5-11) 12:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Jose Regalado (1.08 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 8.1 IP) and TBD


From Friday, Deibinson Romero doubles home two runs in the 4-3 win by Indianapolis. Romero has been one of the best hitters in baseball early on, hitting .350/.471/.750 in 13 games. He leads all Pirates minor league players with four homers.

Recent Transactions

4/26: John Sever added to WV Power roster. Austin Coley transferred to WV Black Bears roster.

4/25: Jonathan Schwind placed on disabled list.

4/25: Justin Sellers transferred from Bradenton to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/25: Jeremy Bleich added to Bradenton roster.

4/22: Francisco Diaz assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Kawika Emsley-Pai added to WV Power roster.

4/21: John Sever assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power roster.

4/20: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

4/19: Wilkin Castillo assigned to West Virginia Black Bears

4/19: Pat Ludwig retires.

4/18: Jaff Decker activated from disabled list and optioned to Indianapolis. Adam Miller assigned to WV Black Bears.

4/18: Junior Sosa sent to Bradenton. Barrett Barnes assigned to Extended Spring Training.

4/17: Brad Lincoln assigned to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez assigned to Altoona.

4/17: Chris Stewart activated from disabled list. Tony Sanchez optioned to Indianapolis.

4/16: Jordan Luplow added to West Virginia Power. Jose Regalado transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.

4/16: Kelson Brown transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.

4/14: Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power. Erik Forgione assigned to West Virginia Black Bears

4/14: Collin Balester assigned to Altoona.

4/13: Pirates release Jonathan Sandfort.

4/13: Francisco Liriano reinstated from paternity list. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

4/12: Chris Stewart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/12: Justin Topa placed on Bradenton disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Bradenton from Altoona

This Date in Pirates History

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including pitcher Francisco Cordova, who pitched six seasons for the team from 1996 until 2000. He took part in the team’s last no-hitter back in 1997, throwing the first nine innings of the ten inning game. That boxscore can be found here. Cordova went 42-47, 3.96 in 166 games, 112 as a starter with the Pirates.

Also born on this date: Infielder Curt Wilkerson, who played the 1991 club that made the playoffs. Outfielder Amos Otis, who played for the 1984 Pirates, the last team during his 17-year career. He was a five-time All-Star and won three Gold Glove awards.

Twenty years ago today, baseball returned from their last strike and the Pirates opened their season against the Expos with a 6-2 loss. Here is the Pirates lineup from that day:

Jacob Brumfield,cf
Carlos Garcia,2b
Al Martin,lf
Jeff King,3b
Jay Bell,ss
Orlando Merced,rf
Rich Aude,1b
Mark Parent,c
Jon Lieber,p

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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If your happy and ya know it clap your hands! clap,clap,clap! If your happy and ya really want to show it! Root for the bucs! Hand clappin’ news all around.


I noticed every Pirate team has a winning record. I can’t remember the last time that has happened. Usually one team is doing poorly. Even more encouraging!

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