Morning Report: The Pirates Could Use More Clay Holmes the Rest of the Year

I view players a lot differently than most who watch baseball. Most only see a player when he arrives in the majors, and only look at the results from that player to evaluate him.

I see players from the moment they arrive in pro ball. I see them when the only thing that matters is their raw talent and upside, and watch the entire transition from a raw player to a player who can produce on the field. I see the transition from where the numbers don’t matter, to where the numbers matter more and more, all the way to the majors where the numbers are the only thing that matter.

But even in the majors, I see the player beyond the numbers. I see what a player could still become with an adjustment or two.

That’s a tough thing to balance when providing MLB analysis. For example, I still think Gregory Polanco can be an impact hitter. He’s shown that in a lot of stretches in the majors so far. The problem is that he hasn’t been consistent by any means — and we’re currently seeing one of the down periods — and that absolutely has to be considered. With a guy like Polanco, who has a few years of a track record of inconsistent play, I still believe he can break out of it and find consistency, but I’m much less optimistic about those chances than I was in his first or second year in the majors.

Then there’s a guy like Clay Holmes first arriving in the majors. I look at Holmes and I see a guy with a mid-90s fastball with movement, a good cutter, and the chance to be a major league starter if he can limit his control issues.

Of course, right now most people see Holmes as the guy who had a horrible start in San Francisco, then came on to lose the game in the 15th inning last night.

One of my favorite things is seeing a prospect arrive in the majors. After years of covering a guy, you finally get to see what he can do. One of my least favorite things is also seeing a prospect arrive in the majors. Because the reactions to that prospect are usually instant, despite the reality that players still have development to do once they arrive in the majors, and aren’t exactly finished products the day they arrive.

So you have a guy like Holmes with a lot of upside, who comes up and had some good outings and some horrible outings, and the horrible outings are the only things noticed. That’s understandable. MLB isn’t a development league. It’s the first league these guys play in where the results are the only thing that matters. Fans are watching only for results. Media members are only writing about the results. Teams are making their decisions only on the results.

That sucks in a way, because players can get an unfair first impression if they come up and initially struggle while costing the team an important game. But here’s the good thing about the Pirates right now in regards to young players — none of the games for the rest of the year are important.

I’m not going to go through and calculate the playoff odds for a 63-66 team. I’m going to assume those odds are less than 1% by this point, since they were less than 3% when they were above .500.  Basically, the Pirates have 33 games remaining, and none of them matter — unless you think they can somehow go 25-8 the rest of the way to get to 88 wins, which probably would force a playoff to get into the Wild Card game.

So now when a young player comes up the rest of the year, the results don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if Clay Holmes blows the game in the 15th. It doesn’t matter that Kevin Newman had a good night, going 2-for-5 with two walks.The only thing that matters right now is that the young players are getting experience.

The 2018 season doesn’t matter. The 2019 season matters. The Pirates are going to need guys like Clay Holmes and Kevin Newman to help out in 2019, regardless of what moves they make between now and then. They’re going to need other young players helping out as well. And since they have 33 games left that don’t matter, this is the perfect time to play those guys.

This isn’t the time to give playing time to a struggling Sean Rodriguez on an expiring contract. This is a time to give playing time to a struggling Clay Holmes who will be around well beyond 2018. It’s a time to go with Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, and others who will be here beyond 2018.

All of those guys are going to need some development in the majors. They’re going to need to adjust to the league. It’s not going to be pretty to watch at times, and it might cost the Pirates some games in obvious ways. I can’t think of a better time for that to happen than a time when the games don’t matter, and when the team has no shot of winning in the current year.

I’d want to see more of Clay Holmes the rest of the year. I want to see more starts from Kevin Newman. I’d love to see Kevin Kramer in the majors to see what he can do. Because it’s all about 2019 now. And letting those guys work things out for the rest of the meaningless 2018 season gives the Pirates a much better chance to get production out of them once 2019 rolls around.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by 12 games with 33 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by 8.5 games.

Indianapolis is tied for first place with ten games left in their schedule. They do not own the tiebreaker.

Altoona is in second place and trails by a 1/2 game with 11 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by seven games.

Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoff race.

West Virginia is in fifth place and trails by ten games with ten games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team in the overall standings by two games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and the Power finishes second. The team they are chasing owns the tiebreaker, so the Power need to finish ahead of them.

Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoff race.

Bristol can not win their division anyone. They are three games out of second place with five games left, though the team they are chasing owns the tiebreaker. The second place team also gets a playoff spot.

The GCL Pirates have been eliminated from the playoff race.

The DSL Pirates1 have been eliminated from the playoff race.

The DSL Pirates2 have been eliminated from the playoff race.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 7-6 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night. Jameson Taillon will get the start, coming off of his outing on August 19th when he gave up one run over six innings against the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers will counter with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 3.58 ERA in 151 innings, with 122 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates three times this season, allowing one earned run each game, while pitching a total of 17.2 innings.

The minor league schedule includes doubleheaders for Altoona and Bradenton. James Marvel and Scooter Hightower get the starts for the Curve. Marvel has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his three starts for Altoona. He is holding batters to a .205 BAA. Bradenton’s Mike Wallace allowed one run over six innings in his last start. No starter has been named yet for the second game, but today was Evan Piechota’s day to pitch so it could be him.

Indianapolis will go with Nick Kingham, who has allowed 11 runs on 17 hits in his last eight innings (two starts). West Virginia will use Samuel Reyes in place of the injured Travis MacGregor. It’s the first career start for Reyes, who threw five shutout innings in relief last Sunday. Bristol starter Roger Santana threw seven shutout innings with a career high eight strikeouts in his last start. The GCL/DSL seasons wrap up today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (63-66) vs Brewers (72-58) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.58 ERA, 131:39 SO/BB, 146.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (69-61) @ Louisville (56-71) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (3.80 ERA, 58:16 SO/BB, 62.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (71-56) vs Richmond (61-67) 4:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (2.25 ERA, 15:6 SO/BB, 20.0 IP) and Scooter Hightower (3.42 ERA, 23:8 SO/BB, 26.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (54-67) vs Dunedin (64-64) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (4.85 ERA, 70:18 SO/BB, 102.0 IP) and TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (64-59) @ Rome (66-60) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Samuel Reyes (2.25 ERA, 27:12 SO/BB, 32.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (25-41) @ Mahoning Valley (37-28) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (29-34) vs Elizabethton (35-26) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (5.37 ERA, 44:20 SO/BB, 53.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (27-24) vs Tigers East 10:00 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (32-39) vs Cubs1 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (27-44) vs Colorado 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Thursday night, Kevin Kramer’s 13th home run of the season, followed by a grand slam from Alfredo Reyes

Reyes

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/24: Pirates sign Nick Mears.

8/24: Pirates activate Sean Rodriguez from disabled list.

8/24: Montana DuRapau placed on disabled list.

8/23: Michael Feliz optioned to Indianapolis.

8/23: Casey Sadler placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Montana DuRapau activated from DL.

8/21: Pirates recall Clay Holmes. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.

8/21: Casey Sadler sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/20: Mariano Dotel, Braham Rosario and Jose Maldonado promoted from DSL to GCL Pirates. Yerry De Los Santos and Lizardy Dicent promoted from the GCL to Bristol.

8/20: Travis MacGregor placed on disabled list. Logan Stoelke promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Option Buddy Boshers to Indianapolis.

8/19: Bligh Madris activated from Bradenton disabled list. Justin Harrer returned to GCL Pirates

8/18: Stephen Alemais activated from the disabled list. Logan Ratledge placed on Altoona disabled list.

8/18: Manny Bejerano promoted to Morgantown.

8/18: Pat Dorrian promoted  to Bristol.

8/17: Pirates sign Carlos Canache.

8/17: Sherten Apostel sent to Texas Rangers as the PTBNL in the Keone Kela trade.

8/16: Pirates recall Kevin Newman and Jordan Luplow. Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.

8/16: Jordy Mercer placed on disabled list.

8/16: Casey Sadler designated for assignment.

8/16: Brad Case promoted to Bristol.

8/15: Travis Swaggerty, Luke Mangieri and Connor Kaiser promoted to West Virginia.

8/15: Dylan Busby activated from West Virginia disabled list. Oneil Cruz placed on disabled list.

8/15: Montana DuRapau placed on disabled list.

8/15: Nick Burdi assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/14: Pirates sign Johan Montero.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two transactions of note. We start with the acquisition of Wilbur Cooper in 1912. He was 20 years old and pitching in the minors when the Pirates traded two players to be named later to get him. Cooper would stick around until 1924 and collect 202 wins with the Pirates, which is a franchise record. He led the NL with 22 wins and 327 innings pitched in 1921. From 1918 until 1922, he won at least 19 games every season. You can read more on Cooper here.

On this date in 1959, the Pirates traded away outfielder Ted Kluszewski for veteran outfielder Harry Simpson and a minor league third baseman named Bob Sagers. The Pirates got nine games out of Simpson and Sagers never made the majors. Kluszewski was once a feared power hitter, but a back injury really limited his power and the Pirates obviously didn’t miss him too much, since they won the World Series the next year.

The former players born on this date include:

Gary Mathews Jr, center fielder for the 2001 Pirates. He was a waiver pickup of the Pirates in August and became the regular center fielder the rest of the season.

Jim Suchecki, 1952 pitcher. He originally signed with the Red Sox at the age of 15 in 1943, but he didn’t make it to the majors until 1950. Suchecki made five relief appearances for Pirates before they lost him on waivers.

Tony Boeckel, third baseman in 1917 and 1919. Hit .259 in 109 games for the Pirates. Missed 1918 due to the war. Boeckel is unfortunately known as the first active Major League player to die in a car accident, which happened in 1923 at the age of thirty.

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