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Notes: Bucs pitchers inducing weak contact

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cole update

Gerrit Cole will pitch a sim-game on Wednesday. The plan is for him to pitch three innings, 55 pitches.

Volquez finding success with curve

Entering tonight's game, Edinson Volquez ERA is much improved over last year: 5.71 (2013) to 3.65 (2014). Part of the the reason for the drop is reflective of a much better BABIP (.325 to .254), strand rate (64.5 percent to 75.3 percent) and line drive rate (22.8 percent to 16.5 percent).

The most dramatic change in Volquez's season, however, is the effectiveness of his curveball. Last year he allowed 10.8 runs above average with the pitch, this year he has saved 3.4. The batting line is telling:

Year Batting Average Slugging ISO BABIP
2013 .247 .392 .145 .359
2014 .181 .267 .086 .246

Part of the reason for his new found success with the pitch may be that he is getting substantially more vertical drop from a year ago.

Verticalmovev_medium

Weak contact

Mark Simon, of ESPN, tweeted his hard-hit ranking list today. The Pirates' pitching staff is allowing the second least amount of hard contact, only 13.4 percent of batted balls. (League median is 15.2 percent.) Breaking it down further, Pirates' starters rank third, 13.9 percent, and, surprisingly, the bullpen ranks second, 12.5 percent.

Individual performances of note:

Name Rank Hard-hit Rate
Starters
Morton 4th 10.1%
Locke 19th 12.4%
Cole 36th 13.3%
Relievers
Watson 2nd 4.6%
Wilson 21st 10.1%
Melancon 23rd 10.2%
Frieri 137th 18.5%

On the other side, it is surprising to find that the Pirates' offense ranks 24th in generating hard contact, 14.4 percent.

Hurdle shares Polanco anecdote

Hurdle was asked about how Gregory Polanco is adjusting to life in the major leagues this afternoon, in terms of the increased travel and attention. He responded that part of the challenge for the young right fielder is juggling all the media requests and attention he receives away from the park. As an example of the latter, Hurdle told an interesting anecdote that I founding interesting listening to, and thought you might enjoy reading:

"Actually in St. Louis, a funny story. Wasn't funny for the people involved, but he's walking across the street and once he comes out he didn't have his posse with him, like three or four of the players. A beehive [of fans descended on him]. I watched him go, more people and more people [surrounded him]. So, finally, I walked over and took him by the arm and said, 'come on with me.' And, of course, you get a big kick-back [of people complaining] and, I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm the bad guy here. But he doesn't have the responsibility to sign every autograph that he's asked to sign every night. So, I'm going to take him away and take him across the street.' So, (laughing) I got my arm around him, walking him across the street, and we get him to the hotel.