Morning Report: Sunday Notes on Liriano, Borden, the FIL and the Wild Card

Some random Sunday notes on a day the Pirates can officially eliminate the Brewers from the playoffs. We start with the Fall Instructional League beginning on Friday, as players first reported to Pirate City, some for the first time in Bradenton. In the Dominican Summer League recap, we listed all the players who were invited to the FIL. I was told that only one player had visa issues from the new players, which is a pretty good success rate. They took the field for the first time on Saturday for workouts. The games will start up in a little over a week. Obviously with all the teams making the playoffs in the system, the camp isn’t as crowded as usual just yet. The FIL usually runs about five weeks and we will have more on it when the schedule and full rosters are released.

Francisco Liriano starts today and I noticed a couple odd things while looking over his stats. This season he has faced 14 teams with below .500 records. He has 13 starts against teams with winning records. His ERA versus the sub-.500 teams is 2.44 in 92.1 innings. Against the good teams, he has a 4.35 ERA in 72.1 innings. You would expect the better teams to do better, but that’s a pretty big difference in both ERA and how long he lasts each game. The other has to do with run support and the Pirates are probably going to want to score a couple runs, or light up the  scoreboard. When the Pirates put 3-5 runs on the board for Liriano, he has a 4.84 ERA. When they score two or less runs, he keeps them in the game with a 2.83 ERA and when they give him a comfortable lead, he’s even better with a 2.61 ERA.

Buddy Borden pitched two-hit ball over seven innings in the Florida State League finals on Friday night. He was the player sent to the Rays in the Sean Rodriguez deal. Borden had eight strikeouts and a 9:3 GO/AO ratio in the win. During the regular season, he had a 2.97 ERA, ranking him fifth in the league. He also held batters to a .223 BAA.

An interesting note on the wild card race and the difference between the AL and NL this year. In the NL, five teams have already been eliminated from the playoffs. In the AL, none have been eliminated and even the worst team(Oakland) still has a few days at least to pretend they still have a chance. In fact, three other NL teams are closer to being eliminated than the A’s.

Altoona lost their series on Saturday night, making them the first of the four playoff teams to be eliminated. About a half hour later, the West Virginia Power joined them on the sidelines, leaving two teams in the system still fighting for a title. That could be down to one by tonight, or there could be two teams going to the finals.

Morgantown had their game rained out on Saturday, so the deciding game has been pushed back to this evening. It is the only game on the schedule today. If Morgantown can win, they will go on to face Staten Island in the finals. They last played on Thursday, beating Tri-City 2-0 in the best-of-three series. The NYPL finals begin on Monday, as long as Morgantown gets in their game tonight. The series has already had two rain outs.

Indianapolis won their series Friday night, so now they await the winner of the Norfolk/Columbus series. Columbus leads the best-of-five series 2-1. The International League finals will begin on Tuesday night, with the last three games of the best-of-five series taking place in Indianapolis. The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played. You can find last night’s Prospect Watch here.

Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis won the series 3-0

9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3

9/10: Indianapolis 6, Scranton/WB 1

9/11: Indianapolis 4, Scranton/WB 2

Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Altoona lost the series 3-1.

9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7

9/10: Bowie 7, Altoona 0

9/11: Bowie 11, Altoona 3

9/12: Bowie 3, Altoona 0

West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. The Power lost the series 2-1.

9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2

9/11: Hickory 6, West Virginia 3

9/12: Hickory 1, West Virginia 0

Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series. The series is tied 1-1

9/9: @Morgantown 7:05 postponed until 9/10

9/10: Morgantown 2, Williamsport 1

9/11: @Williamsport 3, Morgantown 1

9/12: @Williamsport 12:00 postponed until 9/13

9/13: @Williamsport 5:05

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 2.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a three game lead for the top wild card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 10-2 over the Brewers on Saturday night. Francisco Liriano will start this afternoon. He has faced the Brewers twice this season, allowing three runs over eight innings the first time, and four runs over five innings back on September 3rd. His mound opponent will be Taylor Jungmann, who has a 2.87 ERA in 100.1 innings this season.  He started against Liriano ten days ago and gave up one run over six innings.

MLB: Pittsburgh (85-56) vs Brewers (62-80) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.28 ERA, 63:178 BB/SO, 164.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) @ TBD 9/15
Probable starter:  TBD

AA: Altoona (74-68)

High-A: Bradenton (74-64)

Low-A: West Virginia (87-52)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34) @ Williamsport (46-30) 5:05 PM
Probable Starter: Brandon Waddell (5.75 ERA, 7:18 BB/SO, 20.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)

DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)

Highlights

Here is video of Indianapolis putting away their series with a 4-2 victory on Friday. That’s Alen Hanson at shortstop, tossing the ball over to Josh Bell for the final out.

Recent Transactions

9/10: A.J. Burnett activated from disabled list.

9/9: Zack Dodson promoted to Indianapolis.

9/9: Felipe Gonzalez and Hunter Morris promoted to Altoona. Robert Stock assigned to GCL Pirates.

9/7: Travis Ishikawa activated from disabled list.

9/5: Travis Ishikawa assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

9/3: Hunter Morris assigned to GCL Pirates

9/2: Austin Meadows, Tyler Eppler and Montana DuRapau sent to Altoona. Matt Benedict and Mel Rojas Jr sent to Indianapolis

9/2: Oderman Rocha assigned to Bradenton

9/2: Pedro Florimon added to 40-man roster. Deolis Guerra placed on 60-day DL.

9/1: Luis Escobar promoted to Morgantown

9/1: Casey Sadler placed on 60-day DL. Elias Diaz, Bobby LaFromboise, Jaff Decker recalled

9/1: Rob Scahill activated from DL. Travis Snider and Radhames Liz added to 40-man roster

8/31: Wilkin Castillo added to Indianapolis roster. John Bowker and Adam Miller activated from disabled list.

This Date in Pirates History

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two who were traded for the same player at different times. Starting with Andy LaRoche, who played for the team from 2008 until 2010. The Pirates acquired him in the Jason Bay deal, and while he had a decent 2009 season(2.3 WAR), he couldn’t follow that up in 2010 and was cut after the season. He has played 41 Major League games since then and spent 2015 playing independent ball. He was teammates with his brother Adam during the 2008-09 seasons in Pittsburgh and his dad played 14 years in the majors.

Armando Rios and Denny Neagle were both born on this date and they were both traded for Jason Schmidt. Neagle was sent to the Braves in the deal that brought Schmidt to the Pirates and Rios came from the Giants in the deal that sent Schmidt away. Rios tore his ACL just two games into his time in Pittsburgh and ended up playing 76 games with the team before being released. Neagle spent five years with the Pirates, posting 43 wins and a 4.02 ERA in 697 innings. He was an All-Star and won 13 games during the strike-shortened 1995 season.

Tom Parsons was a 6’7″ right-handed pitcher the Pirates signed as an amateur free agent in 1957. He pitched one game for Pittsburgh, making a start on September 5, 1963. Parsons allowed six runs over 4.1 innings, with the big hit being a three-run homer by Hall of Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews. The Pirates would trade Parsons to Houston in June of 1964, only to see the deal nullified when both teams returned the players in the deal. A short time later, he was sold to the New York Mets, where he pitched two seasons. Parsons turns 76 today.

  • Well, the Bucs exorcised some Nelson demons on friday. Here’s to having a big day against Jungmann. Was nice to see J-Hay go 4 for 4 with a walk last night. It’d be great if he got hot down the stretch. Right now, every night the Bucs have a solid lineup and a deep bench. Well, except for that day CH put Serpico at short. That was one of his worst decisions this year.

  • Interesting notes on Frankie. I just took a couple minutes to look at something else which would imply randomness: Frankie’s xFIP game to game. In games vs teams above .500, he’s had 6 games of 3 xFIP or less and 7 of 3+ xFIP. In games vs teams below .500, he’s had 7 games at or above 3 xFIP and 7 below. Doesn’t get much more random than that.

    In 7 of his 10 wins, Frankie has thrown the slider >35% of the time. In 5 of his 7 losses, he’s thrown it fewer than 35% of the time. That would seem more indicative of success, IMO.

    • I also think it’s his ability to command his fastball. When he can command that fastball, he sets up that filthy slider and piles on the K’s like the game the other day against the Reds. When his command is off, they don’t bite on the slider nearly as much and he throws it less.

  • When Indy finishes their season, do we see any other players like Worley being recalled?

    • Worley is definitely a possibility since they are still paying him his MLB salary. Might see Hanson, who can add speed and a switch hitter to the bench, and two weeks wouldn’t really affect his call-up next year, but it would be good to get him a cup of coffee this season for experience. Tony Sanchez would be the other possibility, though he doesn’t really add anything.

      Those are the three best chances I see and it’s probably 75% for Worley(I’d say higher, but the 40 is full), 50% for Hanson and 20% chance Sanchez comes up.

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