Pirates pregame: Sunday notes

Justin K. Aller

-P- According to Fangraphs, Wandy Rodriguez's average fastball velocity is down 1.3 mph from last season. Today Clint Hurdle was asked if he expected the left-hander's velocity to rebound as the season progressed: "I don't know, it's uncharted territory for me as it is for him. He didn't have the surgery. Sometimes you have the surgery you get MPH. He didn't have the surgery. Time will tell," he said.

Hurdle added that Rodriguez's slower fastball is affecting the effectiveness of his other pitches:

What can be challenging is when you are used to having a 92-93 MPH fastball how that sets up your breaking ball and your changeup. It reduces the separation of velocity within the fastball and the change. If your change up is 82-84 and your fastball is 88-90, you're not even getting 10 MPH separation, which is normally what you're looking for in between the fastball and the changeup. And then (his) curveball is down to the mid-70s ... But it's not the same curveball when you're throwing the fastball (with less velocity).

The average separation between Rodriguez's changeup and fastball is 5.2 MPH this season. In 2013 it was 6.3 MPH, and 5.7 in 2012.

-P- General Manager Neal Huntington also asked about Rodriguez's health and drop in velocity: "If he is hurt, we'll deal with that ...It was a little crisper in spring training than we've seen so far. Pitchers tend to lose velocity as they age."

-P- Although Rodriguez has struggled in three of his four starts, his whiff rates look surprisingly healthy. With the exception of the four seam fastball, swings-and-misses are up across the board:

Pitch: (2012-2013), 2014

Curveball: (9.1), 16.8 percent

Changup: (7.7), 12.8 percent

Four seam: (6.4), 3.3 percent

Two seam: (4.8),  5.2 percent

(Courtesy of TexasLeaguers.com)

Overall Rodriguez's swing-and-miss rate is 9 percent, on pace to be the second highest whiff rate of his career.

-P- X-Rays were taken of Jordy Mercer's ankle and came back negative.

-P- If everything holds to form, today's game should be crisply played. The average time of game for getaway games involving the Pirates this season is 2 hours and 32 minutes. Non-getaway games are averaging 3 hours and 3 minutes (only 9-inning games).

-P- Mark Melancon became a father for a second time last night, as his wife gave birth to a baby boy.

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