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Readers Ask! 10/21/20

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Minnesota Twins v Pittsburgh Pirates
Will Oneil Cruz be in the Burgh next season?
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

I asked and you delivered! Thanks to the Bucs Dugout commentariat, I have some good thoughtful questions to consider and answer. Some are worthy of their own article (Rocker versus Al Leiter’s kid comes to mind), but I’ll do a few quick ones today.

Joey Mooney: When do you believe we see Oneil Cruz in Pittsburgh if he is innocent and on time at spring training? I had his ETA June 2021 I hope he sticks at SS cause the Pirates sure could use it.

The Pirates have made it clear that they’re backing Cruz all the way in his current situation. As I wrote yesterday, there is still no trial date set, but if we go by what’s being said that alcohol is no longer being considered as a factor, that bodes well for Cruz. I’m sure his lawyers are pressing to have everything resolved before spring training.

June 2021? That’s somewhat optimistic in my book. If he has a great spring training and starts the season in Indianapolis, it’s possible, but if he goes back to Altoona and doesn’t rise to Triple A during the season, you’ll either see him in Pittsburgh in September or not at all. 2021 will be his fifth season in pro ball and he just turned 22. This is his year to really make an impression, and hopefully he’ll have some help in dealing with the September tragedy.

1979pirates: Is (Quinn) Priester allowed to pitch the way he pitched to get drafted, or are they on page 25 of the analytics book trying to force him to do something he can’t do?

Priester had this to say about working with the coaches in the fall instructional league at Bradenton:

I’ve gotten more guidance with (my curveball). Coming from Altoona to here, they’ve definitely pushed me to use that more. I started to throw a slider a little bit, but we just kind of dialed that back and focused on the curveball. Just helping me use that in the correct counts and against the right guys in the right situations. Definitely have been guided in the right direction with that pitch specifically to make it better for me, being able to get more outs with it and more bad swings.

Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds this:

One of the breakdowns the Pirates have explained to Priester is similar to what the Astros did for Gerrit Cole — almost like blackjack dealers describing the odds of winning based on available information or strengths.

For example, the Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) for major league hitters facing a 1-0 count in 2020 was .362. It dropped to .272 if the pitcher got to 0-1. If the pitcher got to 0-2, it dropped to .203 was still only .227 at 1-2.

It didn’t take Priester long to figure out what any of that meant — get ahead, by whatever means possible. Whether ahead or behind in counts, Priester has been coached individually to figure out how and where his stuff plays.

This was a good start. Keep the questions coming, whether serious or fun. We have a few months to kill here.