**Two weeks ago (6/9/13) I noted, "He only has 77 PAs, but at .486, Jordy Mercer currently leads the Pirates in SLG." He’s now up to 118 PAs, has taken over the starting SS job and his .495 SLG still leads the team. Pedro Alvarez, on fire of late, is second at .480.
**Another Update: Two weeks ago: "Pedro Alvarez’s is third in PAs this season behind Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. His triple slash line is .207/.267/.435, for an OPS of .702. Since May 1, it’s .232/.288/.537, an OPS of .836, which would be the highest on the team."
Still third in plate appearances. His line is now .229/.298/.480, for an OPS of .778. Since May 1, it’s .261/.331/.587, an OPS of .918. He has 13 HRs & 38 RBI in the 40 games he’s played during that time. The Pirates are 26-14 in those games, 12 over .500. They are 14 over for the season.
**With all the talk about possibly trading for Giancarlo Stanton the past few days here are some age-related numbers: Andrew McCutchen made his ML debut June 4, 2009 at the age of 22 years, 237 days. Stanton made his ML debut June 8, 2010 at the age of 20 years, 212 days. He was a year later than McCutchen to the bigs and two years younger at his debut. To this point in their careers:
Cutch 648 Games, 2803 PAs: .290/.373/.480 .852 OPS. OPS+ 134
Stanton 404 Games, 1633 PAs: .270/350/.548 .898 OPS. OPS+ 139
**Gregory Polanco was promoted to AA Altoona this past week. He will turn the age McCutchen debuted, May 9 next year. It is certainly possible he is the Pirates RF a year from today. Jameson Taillon is 65 days younger than Polanco. He could well be in the Pirates rotation a year from today, following the exact path Gerrit Cole followed the last 12 months. Taillion is 1 year and 71 days younger than Cole.
**The Pirates have 11 pitchers who have logged over 30 innings thus far this year. Only two have WHIPs over 1.131, Francisco Liriano, tonight’s starting pitcher, at 1.250 and Vin Mazzaro at 1.361.
**A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke have each pitched 89.1 innings this season. Locke has given up fewer hits (62-66), runs (21-32), and HRs (5-8). AJ has given up slightly fewer walks (35-39). The big difference is strikeouts where AJ has a big edge (99-63). Oh yea, their WHIPs are an identical 1.131.
**Updating this stat: As a team Pirates pitchers now rank 3nd in the NL in strikeouts (Reds & Cards are 1-2), down from 2nd, and still 15th, dead last, in walks. They also rank 1st in hits allowed (best) and second in ERA.
**Pirates pitchers have the best Batting Average Against (BAA) in all of baseball by a huge margin at .223. The difference between the Bucs and the 2nd best team the Cubs (.235, who would’ve guessed) is greater than the difference between the Cubs and the 14th best team, the SF Giants.
**Looking at some of the more advanced metrics, the Bucs staff is second in all of baseball in LOB% at 77.8% (Royals lead at 78.1%) and first in GB% at 50.8% (Cards are second at 49%).
**Looking at some less advanced stats, the Pirates lead the majors in Holds with 48 and you’ll probably be surprised to know they have blown seven saves, Jason Grilli blowing his first Wednesday night. That still ranks tied for 6th in the majors.
The Roster. Last Time: "The Pirates 40-man roster currently consists of 43 players with Charlie Morton, Phil Irwin and Jeff Karstens on the 60-day disabled list. The Bucs currently have 6 players on the 15-day DL. Expect a good deal of roster shuffling over the next month. It will start this week when Gerrit Cole and Morton are added to the active roster and the 40-man. My guess is John McDonald and Mike Zagurski are DFA’d."
This Time: Got it right two weeks ago. The next two weeks will be more interesting still. The 40-man stands at 42 and five pitchers (AJ, Wandy, JMac, Jeanmar Gomez and Jared Hughes) and Jose Tabata are on the 15-man DL. McDonald’s rehab stint will end in the next week and my guess is he’s traded or DFA’d. Gomez will be re-instated in the next few days and Welker will be sent down. When AJ and Wandy come back Ryan Reid and another pitcher will go. Will Cole go back down or will the Bucs move Morton to the pen and possibly send down Morris or DFA Mazzaro? That’s the biggest question right now. The team will want to have starting pitching depth and the one obvious way to retain that is sending Cole back to AAA (and it would also guarantee he doesn’t reach Super Two status). Having Morton and Gomez in the pen is some insurance, but probably not the best short-term approach, particularly with Morton.
Injuries may certainly sort this out but I don’t see Huntington DFAing anyone on the current staff. Minor league options exist with Morris, Watson, Wilson and Cole.
The other question is whether the return of Tabata, probably within a week, will spell the end of the Brandon Inge Era. My guess, unfortunately, is Inge stays. At this point there isn’t enough chemistry at Los Alamos to make a solid case for keeping him, but I’m guessing the Pirates do, citing position versatility, etc.
It also looks like the Tony Sanchez-Michael McKenry swap isn’t ready for prime time. Look for Sanchez to go back down when the Pirates finish their interleague west coast swing.