Notes from Clint Hurdle's afternoon meeting with the press:
-P- Jason Grilli will not immediately return to the closer's role. Hurdle said that they will follow a similar plan as last year, working Grilli into seventh- and eighth-inning situations before returning him to closing.
-P- Tony Watson, Mark Melancon ("borderline") and Vin Mazzaro are unavailable out of the Pirates' bullpen tonight. Hurdle identified Bryan Morris as the likely closer.
-P- Pedro Alvarez has been dropped to the sixth spot in the order tonight, with Ike Davis moving to clean up. (We looked Alvarez's strand rate last night.)
Hurdle said that he had a conversations with Alvarez in New York and again today.
"For the opportunities that have been there and the production, they haven't matched up," Hurdle said.
Hurdle also pointed to Alvarez's history of success batting sixth (.784 career OPS batting sixth; .638 career OPS batting fourth).
This season Alvarez is batting .206/.302/.397 (-5 RE24) with RISP; .208/.290/.368 (-10 RE24) with runners on base, from the fourth spot. He has had the second most runners on base in the Major Leagues, 162. He has scored 10 percent of those runners (league average 14 percent).
"It's a similar look that we had with Morneau last year," Hurdle said of Davis batting fourth. "I'm not even looking for power, I'm looking for quality at bats."
-P- Stomly Pimentel will throw a one inning simulated game in Brandenton on Saturday.
- Tony Watson has the second most shutdown innings, 14, and second highest WPA, 1.58, among Major League relievers.
- I've been trying to figure out how to get this statistic for a while now, and I finally cracked the Baseball Reference code this afternoon: Pirates's starting pitchers are tied for the second-fewest winning decisions (six) by starting pitchers through 46 games in baseball history. Here is the list:
4 wins - (1962 New York Mets, 2006 Kansas City Royals)
6 wins - (2014 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2004, 2005, Kansas City Royals, 1969 Montreal Expos, 1997, 2005 Oakland A's, 1977 Seattle Mariners)
(Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.)