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657 Pitching Innings To Divide For Pittsburgh Pirates

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Clockwise from top left (Gerrit Cole, Steven Brault, Francisco Liriano, Chad Kuhl) can be a part of the solution in the second half. Graphic by Michael Bradley for TPOP

 

73 x 9 equals 657.    After the All-Star game break, there are 657 innings of pitching left in the regular season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here’s how I would plan to divide them up.

Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are 1 and 1a for best Pirate pitchers.   Both should have plenty of gas for the 2nd half.

Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole get 6 innings every 5th day until the end.    Each should get 13 starts (with one skipped start) so thats 78 innings each for 156 innings between them.

657-156= 501

Mark Melancon is still one of our top three pitchers.

Mark Melancon has logged 71, 71 and 76 innings in 2013-2015.    Let’s do the mode and say 71 for 2016.   He’s at 36 innings now so he needs 35 to for the second half.   Hopefully most will be saves.

501-35= 466

Looking at how Juan Nicasio finished the first half, I’d give him a lot of two inning outings until I looked at his historical inning totals.   He hasn’t logged over 93 innings since 2013 and he’s already at 73.   Let’s give him 20.  Bummer.

466-20=446

Basically same sentiment with Neftali Feliz.   Feliz is at 34 innings and hasn’t pitched more than 48 since 2011 when he pitched 62.    So let’s stay 55 innings?   That’s only 21 more.   Ugh…

446-21= 425

Some good news: while AJ Schugel’s numbers and peripherals are very inconsistent from years prior to 2016, all his numbers for 2016 work (BABIP, GB%, FIP, xFIP, HR/FB, etc) and he’s been good and should continue to be good.  Also, Schugel was a starter that averaged 130+ innings the last several years and he’s only at 44 now.  Let’s give him 40 more.

425-40= 385

Tony Watson has been better than his numbers.  He’s been unlucky with the four homers he’s given up and he’s had a couple outings where hits were strung together.  His PitchFX data and the thought of regression to his mean means that Watson should be trusted with another 35 innings getting him up to his normal of 75.

385-35= 350

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Jared Hughes — photo courtesy of MLB

Jared Hughes is toast (numbers show no upside) or he must not have totally recovered from his injury in spring training, but he’s a team leader and amazing guy.  Give him 5 innings in August and wait until rosters expand on 1 Sept and bury him in the bullpen.

350-20= 330

 

 

This is where I officially have trouble… and where I think Huntington will too.   You have four starting pitchers that will probably be “meh” in Vogelsong, Niese, Liriano and Locke.   Liriano and Locke will have an awesome start followed by a terrible one while Vogelsong and Niese will have a lot of 5 innings with 3-4 run starts.   The big problem is none are like Nicasio and can be thrown into the bullpen with thoughts of succeeding.

Francisco Liriano is around for 2017 so he needs to start or be traded.   Give him 12 starts at 5 innings a piece.

330-60= 270

Jeff Locke could be back in 2017 as a $5M fifth starter (that’s cheap).   Give him 12 starts at 5 innings a piece.

270-60 = 210

Ryan Vogelsong gets three 5 innings starts in August.  If they happen to be good, he may get more but they probably won’t.   He can also get lots of 2-3 inning relief appearances the rest of the way.   50 innings isn’t unforeseen.

210-50= 160

Jon Niese gets three 5 innings starts in August which WILL be terrible.  He becomes a LOOGY on 1 September and logs a total of 35 innings the rest of the season total.  There’s also the chance he’s traded or released at the end of July, of course.

160-35=125

Arquimedes Caminero can’t be counted on for more than 15 innings because he’s too inconsistent.  If he logs more it’s gravy.

125-15=110

Oops…realizing I forgot to add 5-10 innings of “extra innings”.    Lets say 10 to be conservative.

110+10=120

So, I’ve given up 54 starts out of 63.    I think the 9 remaining need to go to Tyler Glasnow.  He’ll be on a pitch and inning limit so no more than 5 innings a piece.

120-45 = 75

These last 75 are very important innings.   If we give these to Jorge Rondon and Curtis Partsch…or more innings to Vogelsong or Niese…we’ll miss the playoffs.

That why I give the last 75 to Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl.   Both are probably future relievers (along with Trevor Williams) but they could be awesome relievers.   Piggyback Kuhl for 2-3 innings on Locke and Liriano’s starts when the teams overload on RHH’s and do the opposite with Brault on Vogelsong and Glasnow’s starts.  They also could be the guys for the skipped Cole and Taillon starts.

There is some room for upside on this assessment.   Cole and Taillon could go 7 some games.   The Dominican relievers could log more innings.   Liriano could be a stalwart and the “kids” could consume addition starts.

Realistically, hitting and defense has us where we are at and should get us to the Wild Card game.  While the pitching will be a wild ride, at least we have options.

About Michael Bradley (60 Articles)
Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.
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