The Reality TV Show Pirate Fans are Watching

As it stands now most nights when you’re watching the Pirate game you are watching a reality TV show and don’t even know you’re watching one. Currently the starting rotation is this:

  1. Cole
  2. Liriano
  3. Morton
  4. Happ
  5. Locke (without Key)

In a few weeks the Pirates will have a sixth starter when Burnett comes off the disabled list. It would be safe to presume Burnett will slip into the third spot in the rotation. That means when Burnett returns there are going to be three pitchers fighting for 2 rotation spots; Morton, Locke, and Happ.

In essence what we are watching when Morton, Locke, or Happ pitch is the best elimination style reality show on TV. It’s the best because it is totally unscripted and unedited. Nobody know what will happen, even the manager or front office. Once October rolls around the stakes are increased because there is really no need for at fifth starter at all. That means three pitchers are fighting for one spot (and maybe even a spot on the playoff roster).

For example, let’s take a look at the last game each of these pitchers started. From those starts one may surmise it would be Locke and Happ in those two spots and Morton on the outside. I personally believe Morton has the inside track in this race but that is just a gut feeling.

For kicks and grins, here is a poll to see who you think the fourth starter should be.

Pedro at First Base – Not everything is his fault

To be kind, Pedro Alvarez is not a good defensive first baseman. I know I am not writing anything revolutionary with that statement. I just wanted to get it out of the way in case someone did thing I was defending his defense.

Now that I have that out of the way I don’t think we should blame Pedro for everything bad that happens when he is around the baseball. A good example of that is the pop-up fiasco that happened in Sunday night’s game against the Giants. We all saw (or heard) what happened. There was a pop-up down the first base line; Alvarez, Walker, and Polanco all converged on the ball only to have the ball drop in fair territory. Because it was Pedro, he is getting a lot of the blame for that play.

However, I don’t think he is to blame. My feeling is that he either lost the ball in the lights or Walker called him off the ball and then didn’t make the play. The latter being the more likely scenario. I believe this is the case because of where Pedro and the ball wound up. Pedro was in standing the foul territory and the ball landed fair. Taking that information into consideration it is very conceivable Alvarez was called off the play by Walker and thought he was far enough away as to not confuse things. I’m not privy to the communication that went on during the play but this is a plausible explanation for what happened.

This is not to defend his flat out dropping a throw from ARam or having a line drive go through the five hole. Those things are indefensible. However let’s try to take a reasoned and thoughtful approach when looking to blame someone for a play. It may not really be their fault. Also, I have not seen anything explaining the play and why it happened the way  it happened. If you did, I’d be happy to read the explanation.

Happy 81st Birthday Roberto!

Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente

81 years ago today, Roberto Clemente was brought into this world. As Pirate fans we all know he was taken from us much too soon. Having been born in 1970, I never had the chance to watch him play. I have only seen him in videos and in the DVD of game 7 from the 1960 World Series.

My day job is a teacher and in my 7th grade class’ literature book there is an article about Roberto. I make it a point to have the class read that article. It’s the least I can do.

Gerrit Cole and His Slider

Gerrit Cole may be tipping his pitches
Gerrit Cole may be tipping his pitches

From Pat at WHYGAVS:

The piece of data that’s really interesting to me are the swing numbers. From Opening Day through July 31st, opponents swung at ~45% of his fastballs, 54% of his two-seamers, 37% of his changeups, and 49% of his sliders. Since August 1 (the run of four games starting with that last Reds start), they’ve swung at 51% of his fastballs, 57% of his two-seamers, 42% of his changeups, and 60% of his sliders.

It’s an interesting theory and one that requires more research and observation.

Sweep the Mets, Sweep the Mets

Note: I’m testing out writing this post in Markdown using WordPress’ iOS app to see if it gets formatted properly. I apologize for any formatting issues.

The Pirates finished off the Mets yesterday to compltete the three game sweep. Thus ended the 10 game stretch where the Pirates played division leaders and they finished with a record of 7-3. Several things stand out during this stretch:

  • The Bullpen has turned into an asset. It has won its last 16 decisions and its ERA for August is out of this world. Rumbunter has a good article discussing this topic.
  • In spite of how well the Pirates have been playing the Cardinals have been as good. Considering all of their injuries you have to assume they will regress to some degree and start losing some games. Unless they have some sort of Dorian Gray deal happening.

Should MLB Get Rid of Divisions?

Since the advent of three divisions per league in 1994 I was a believer the Pirates should have always remained in the National League East instead of being jettisoned to the National League Central. I would like to see them move back there because I think it’s where they belong. However, Jeff Passan at Yahoo had an interesting article (also his article from 2010 on the same subject) this past week (hat tip to Tim at Pirate Prospects) making me rethink the whole divisional set up all together.

I would be like the old days (pre 1969) where all of the teams would be in one league and just fight for the 5 playoff spots. I don’t like the idea just because this would allow the Pirates to be the second seed in NL but because a lot of the reasons divisions existed are no longer relevant. One of the main reasons divisions were added was to limit the amount of travel teams had to make. By playing an unbalanced schedule there was less travel to cities farther away from the home city. These days with all the teams taking chartered flights (or even having their own planes) this is less of an issue.

Likewise the argument about division rivalries going away if this realignment would happen. The majority of these rivalries exist because the teams are good. There are a few rivalries that may be harmed but I would argue the less games the teams play against each other the more value those games have.

As much as I like Passan’s idea I doubt that it is going to happen because MLB is going to expand to 32 teams sooner than later. The entry fees are too good to pass up. For me I also like the idea of having 32 teams and 4 divisions of 4 teams. There is a lot of symmetry there and it would make playing inter-league games a lot easier.