McCutchen should stick in the six spot

Moving Andrew McCutchen to the six hole has been the best thing to happen to the Pirates’ offense this season.

In a way, he was due. I wrote for Fangraphs on May 15th that his batted ball in play average (BABIP) was far too low (.221 at the time). Fangraphs’ editor Dave Cameron wrote about his hot streak this past week, again citing a much higher BABIP average (.356). The league average is usually around .300. Entering play Friday, McCutchen was at .284, so he has almost caught up to even ground.

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3 Up, 3 Down: June 12th-June 18th

Welcome to 3 Up, 3 Down: a weekly recap and preview for the Pirates. This post refers to games from June 12-18: a stretch where the Pirates took two of three against the Colorado Rockies (6/12-14) and lost two of three to the Chicago Cubs (6/16-18).

3 UP

Jameson Taillon returned to the Pirates Monday, going five shutout innings and picking up the win against the Colorado Rockies. While he had a much worse outing against the Cubs Sunday (5 IP, 4 ER), Taillon’s return is a big one for the rotation and team morale. Pirates Talk Now’s John Perrotto wrote about his return Tuesday. The First year Draft was Monday-Wednesday. The Pirates’ top pick was high school right-hander Shane Baz, who has already signed with the team. I recapped all three days of the draft for PTN. Day 1 can be found here

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The Pirates’ Most Underused Pitch is Marinez’s Slider

The Pirates’ bullpen is in trouble at the moment. Felipe Rivero is continuing a surefire All-Star worthy campaign, but there is not much of a bridge to get to him.

Juan Nicasio is suffering from fatigue and might be used less for the time being. Daniel Hudson has looked OK in recent high leverage situations, but he was batted around in late innings earlier in the year. He also does not seem to have much of a leash, which is why Clint Hurdle pulled him after one hit Saturday. Tony Watson is at the end of his rope.

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Pirates Flashback #3: LHP Mike Gonzalez

Welcome to Pirates Flashback, a weekly look back at some of the best players of the worst teams in Pirates’ history.

Today’s player is Mike Gonzalez, who pitched for the Pirates from 2003-2006.

BEFORE THE BUCS

Gonzalez was drafted in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Pirates. Though he cracked the majors with Pittsburgh, he was briefly traded out of the farm system. On July 22, 2003, he was traded with Scott Sauerbeck to the Red Sox for Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez. Nine days later, fearing the worst for Lyon’s elbow, the Pirates traded the duo back to Boston. They also included pitcher Jeff Suppon for Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez and cash.

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Recapping the Pirates 2017 Third Day Draft Picks

The final rounds of the First Year MLB Draft were completed Wednesday. The Pirates took a selection of players from universities, colleges and high schools in the final day. Here is what you need to know about them.

ROUND 11 (328): Alex Manasa, RHP Jackson CC

Manasa proved to be a reliable two way player as a freshman in 2017. As an outfielder, he hit .410 with 16 doubles, three triples and three home runs over 183 at-bats. As a pitcher, he struck out 31 over 21.1 innings for a 1.27 ERA.

ROUND 12 (358): Hunter Wolfe, SS Walters State CC

Wolfe was a part of the 2017 University of Tennessee recruitment class and has three years of eligibility remaining. He lead Walters State with 19 stolen bases in 2016, hitting .393 with eight home runs.

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Recapping the Pirates 2017 Second Day Draft Picks

Rounds 3-10 of the First Year MLB Draft were completed Tuesday. The Pirates took seven collegiate players out of the eight picks. Here is what you need to know about them.

ROUND 3 (88): Dylan Busby, INF Florida State University

Busby is the 129th best prospect according to Baseball America, and the 185th to MLB.com. Fangraphs ranked him 82nd among college players using the KATOH projection system.

The righty corner infielder is currently hitting .315 with 20 doubles, 14 home runs and 62 RBI in 60 games as a junior. As a sophomore, he lead the team in slugging percentage at a .597 clip. Baseball America ranked him as the fourth best prospect in the Cape Cod League last season.

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Recapping the Pirates 2017 First Day Draft Picks

The first two rounds of the First Year MLB Draft were completed Monday. The Pirates took four high school players with their first four picks. Here is what you need to know about them.

First Round (12): Shane Baz, RHP Concordia Lutheran HS, Tomball, Texas

Baz was ranked as the 11th-best prospect overall according to Baseball America (BA), including the second best fastball among high school pitchers. MLB.com ranked him as the 12th best prospect. He was named First-Team All-District as a senior, going 6-2 with a 0.93 ERA and 96 strikeouts.

At just 17 years old, his heater consistently reaches the low 90s and has topped out at 98 MPH. He also has a curveball, cutter and slider- which all project to be potential plus pitches- and a changeup he is still trying to get a feel for, according to BA and Perfect Game (PG). PG’s scouting report says he has the athleticism, but his fastball command will be his greatest obstacle.

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3 Up, 3 Down: June 5th-June 11th

Welcome to 3 Up, 3 Down: a weekly recap and preview for the Pirates. This post refers to games from June 5th-11th: a stretch where the Pirates lost two extra inning games in Baltimore (6/6-6/7) and split a four game set at home against the Marlins (6/8-6/11).

3 UP

Andrew McCutchen is continuing to clobber the baseball, recording a .417/.462/.542 line in his six games last week. He is 23 hits over his last 57 at-bats (.404), racking up 38 total bases in that stretch (a .667 slugging percentage). Elias Diaz has reached base safely in all four of his starts since taking over for the injured Francisco Cervelli. Diaz has a 1.050 OPS on the year, including a .500/.563/.643 line in his first look as a starter. I opined Thursday that giving him a look as a starter was long overdue.

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Analyzing Glasnow’s First Stint as a Pirate

Tyler Glasnow has finally pitched himself out of a job for the time being, getting demoted Saturday in favor of Jameson Taillon.

His first extended look in the majors did not go as planned, posting a 7.45 ERA and only going 54.1 innings in his first 12 starts. The strikeout stuff is there (8.28 per nine) and the ground ball rate is promising (43.1%), but just about everything else is somewhere between subpar to disastrous.

Friday was his sixteenth career start, which is roughly a half-season’s worth of starts in an ideal world. The problems he has shown in the majors are no longer skewed by a small sample size. There are clear problems he needs to address, and the Pirates are not going to rush them on his Indianapolis assignment.

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Pirates Flashback #2: Kris Benson

Welcome to Pirates Flashback, a weekly look back at some of the best players of the worst teams in Pirates’ history.

Today’s player is Kris Benson, who pitched for the Pirates from 1999-2004.

 BEFORE THE BUCS

Benson attended Clemson University from 1993 to 1996, but he first cracked onto the national scene by pitching for team USA in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Benson won a pair of games during the Olympics, but he was hit hard by Japan in the semifinals and lost. Team USA eventually took bronze in the event.

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