Morning Report: Help is Starting to Arrive For the Pirates

The Pirates are almost going to have a new team soon.

Josh Harrison returns today after being out a little over a month. The Pirates sent Max Moroff down yesterday, and will likely send Nick Kingham back down today to make room for Harrison.

Kingham will likely go back down because Joe Musgrove is ready to come off the disabled list. Musgrove’s last start in Triple-A wasn’t a good one, but he should still be on track to return this week. His five-day schedule would bring him back on Wednesday, but the Pirates could give him an extra day and bring him back on Thursday to wrap up the series against the Reds.

The decision when Musgrove arrives will be interesting. If the Pirates stick with an eigh-man bullpen, then the decision would likely be down to Adam Frazier or Jose Osuna to go down. Frazier has more positional flexibility, but is struggling. Osuna doesn’t have many playing time opportunities due to his defense, but his offense is doing well.

The Pirates have Sean Rodriguez as a utility player, so Frazier wouldn’t be as essential with Harrison already back. The Pirates could afford to go with the better hitter in Osuna while giving Frazier a chance to go down and figure things out.

The other upcoming move would be the eventual return of Starling Marte, which would result in Austin Meadows going back down. As I wrote yesterday, I don’t think there’s anything Meadows could do while he is up to avoid this move.

The good thing is that the Pirates are getting three upcoming boosts to their roster, while having three strong depth options. There might not be as many calls for Kingham to stay up and in the rotation after his start yesterday, but he’s still looking like a really good depth starting option if someone from the rotation goes down.

Either Frazier or Osuna would be a good depth option out of Triple-A, especially if Frazier gets back on track. And Meadows could use some more time in Triple-A to develop against upper level pitchers, but he’s not a bad short-term replacement option, and should get better as the season goes on.

The Pirates are 1.5 games back in the NL Central race and in second place after two straight losses to the Padres. They have gotten a boost over the last month from some of their depth options, and some of their bench players stepping up as starters. They’re going to get a boost starting this week, allowing those bench players to return to and strengthen the bench, while still having the depth in Triple-A to step up if needed in the future.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 6-2 to the San Diego Padres on Saturday night. They will send Trevor Williams to the mound for his 10th start today. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox in his last start. The Padres scheduled starter is right-hander Jordan Lyles, who threw 7.1 innings against the Colorado Rockies in his last start, striking out ten batters. He has a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings over two starts and 13 relief appearances this season, with 32 strikeouts and an 0.91 WHIP.

The minor league schedule includes Mitch Keller trying to stop the recent pattern of bad start/good start by following up his last outing which was one run over seven innings. In his two poor starts, he surrendered seven runs and issued eight walks in 8.1 innings. The Marauders have a doubleheader today after a rain out yesterday. Bradenton starter Eduardo Vera allowed four runs in his last game, yet he still put up at least six innings for the seven straight game. No starter has been named yet for the second game.

In his start for West Virginia earlier this week, Hunter Stratton allowed one run over five innings, while striking out six batters. West Virginia will finish yesterday’s suspended game before playing today’s regularly scheduled game. Indianapolis starter Alex McRae has a 9.87 ERA in five appearances on the road this season.

MLB: Pittsburgh (26-19) vs Padres (19-28) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (2.72 ERA, 35:20 SO/BB, 53.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (20-19) @ Durham (26-14) 5:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.94 ERA, 31:18 SO/BB, 33.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (20-18) vs Portland (15-25) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.07 ERA, 37:19 SO/BB, 41.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (22-19) @ Palm Beach (24-16) 11:30 AM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (2.88 ERA, 27:10 SO/BB, 50.0 IP) and TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (23-15) vs Lexington (19-19) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Hunter Stratton (5.09 ERA, 22:8 SO/BB, 17.2 IP)


From Friday night in Pittsburgh, Austin Meadows making his MLB debut


5/19: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis.

5/19: Sean Keselica added to Altoona roster.

5/19: Brett Pope added to West Virginia roster.

5/18: Travis MacGregor and Joel Cesar placed on disabled list. Max Kranick added to West Virginia roster.

5/18: Pirates recall Austin Meadows. Starling Marte placed on the disabled list.

5/17: JT Brubaker placed on temporary inactive list. Jackson Williams added to Indianapolis.

5/14: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Altoona. Jackson Williams assigned to Morgantown.

5/14: Josh Harrison assigned to Altoona on rehab.

5/12: Joe Musgrove assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

5/10: JT Brubaker promoted to Indianapolis. Nick Kingham assigned to Altoona

5/10: Sergio Cubilete activated from disabled list. Jacob Taylor placed on West Virginia disabled list.


Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, one of them is among the most underrated players in team history. George Grantham played seven seasons for the Pirates, spending time at first base, second base and outfield. He was a member of two teams that went to the World Series, the 1925 and 1927 teams. He had a .901 OPS in 913 games with the Pirates and never posted an OPS below .850 with Pittsburgh. That OPS ranks him fifth in team history and second only to Ralph Kiner among the 60 players with at least 750 games played for the Pirates.

The other player born on this date was Joe Harris, who was not only a teammate of Grantham for two years, he also played first base. He is a lot like Grantham in that he is relatively unknown despite a solid career. He was a .317 career hitter and batted .329 with the Pirates in 145 games. Harris once got a lifetime ban from MLB for signing with a semi-pro team, but was reinstated based on his service during WWI.

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