Breaking Down Joe Musgrove’s Excellent Pirates Debut

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Gene J. Puskar – AP

After working his way back from shoulder discomfort that he sustained in Spring Training, Joe Musgrove finally made his debut with the Pirates on Friday, as he faced the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Musgrove was able to make a terrific first impression, tossing seven shutout innings, while also collecting his first big league hit in an 8-1 victory over the Red Birds. Here now is a breakdown of that start inning by inning.

First inning: Musgrove allowed a one out single to Matt Carpenter, but retired the next two batters, including a strikeout to Jose Martinez on a 96 mph fastball on the inside corner. 

Second inning: Jedd Gyorko singled to begin the Top of the 2nd. After getting Dexter Fowler to lineout to Austin Meadows in center, Musgrove got Francisco Pena to tap one back to the mound to start an inning ending 1-6-3 double play, throwing only four pitches in the process. 

Third inning: The third inning for Musgrove was his first clean frame, as he got Kolten Wong and John Gant to groundout and Tommy Pham to strike out. He needed only nine pitches. 

Fourth inning: Musgrove struck out Carpenter to start the Top of the 4th, picking up his third consecutive strikeout. He then got Martinez to flyout. Following an infield single by Marcell Ozuna, Gyorko lined out to end the inning. 

Fifth inning: Fowler doubled to leadoff the Top of the 5th, the first extra base hit that Musgrove had given up. Pena then grounded out, allowing Fowler to move to third base. Musgrove worked out of it, as he struck out Wong and Gant. 

Sixth inning: Just like the third inning, Musgrove enjoyed his second 1,2,3 frame in the sixth. He got Pham to groundout, Carpenter to flyout and struck out Martinez for a second time. 

Seventh inning: Musgrove allowed a double to Ozuna to begin the Top of the 7th. He was able to settle down once again, as he got Gyorko to fan, while inducing groundouts to both Fowler and Pena.

Analysis: Musgrove displayed tremendous efficiency, throwing just 67 pitches, 50 of which were strikes. Out of the 25 batters faced, he started off 16 of them with first pitch strikes. Musgrove’s four-seam fastball ranged from 91-95 mph, topping out at 96. After using the cutter  5.5% of the time last season with the Houston Astros, Musgrove threw it significantly more in his Pirates debut at 23.9%. He not only had solid command of the cutter, but the pitch itself had great break to it. Musgrove also sprinkled in the sinker, slider and changeup. He induced eight groundouts and did so with his different offerings. In addition to the seven strikeouts, he didn’t walk a batter. Musgrove joins Josh Fogg, A.J. Burnett and Vance Worley as the only Pirates trade acquisitions since 2000 to pitch seven scoreless innings in their debut.








Pirates Designate George Kontos For Assignment

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates announce that veteran reliever George Kontos has been designated for assignment by the club as the corresponding move for Joe Musgrove, who will make his Pirates debut tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

In August of last year, the Pirates claimed Kontos off waivers from the San Francisco Giants, a move that surprised many, given that the Giants got nothing in return, despite the fact that he had still decent numbers. Kontos performed very well after coming over to Pittsburgh, as he put up a 1.84 ERA, a 2.61 FIP and a WHIP of 0.82 in 15 appearances out of the Pirates bullpen.

The 2018 season has been a real struggle for Kontos. He began the year as the setup man to Felipe Vazquez, but lost that role recently, this after opposing batters posted a .965 OPS against him in high leverage situations. Overall, Kontos had a 5.03 ERA, along with a FIP of 6.06 and just a 4.1 K/9 in 21 games.





Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Jesus Liranzo Promoted to Indianapolis; Tyler Jones Released

By Jason Shetler

Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, the Pirates have promoted pitcher Jesus Liranzo to AAA Indianapolis, while pitcher Tyler Jones has been released from the organization. 

Liranzo was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers in early April and placed on the Pirates 40-man roster. This past offseason, he was rated the 19th best prospect in a subpar Baltimore Orioles system by Baseball America. Liranzo had been pitching lights out in the Altoona Curve bullpen, stringing together 12 scoreless innings, while holding opponents to just a .167 average and posting a very impressive 13.5 K/9. Control issues had become a thing with Liranzo, but he’s allowed just three walks so far this year. His fastball has been in the upper-90’s, even touching triple digits on occasion. 

Jones signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent in early January. The 28-year-old righty made several appearances for the Bucs in Spring Training as a non-roster invite, but was a long shot to make the club. In 12 appearances out of the Indianapolis Indians bullpen, Jones had a 5.40 ERA and allowed too many batters to reach base, with a WHIP of 1.62.








Mitch Keller Named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Martin Griff

A week after naming Jason Martin Player of the Week, the Eastern League announced on Monday that Mitch Keller has been given Pitcher of the Week honors for the week of May 14th-20th.

Keller pitched against the Richmond Flying Squirrels last Tuesday, as he allowed only one run in seven innings, while striking out seven. Yesterday, versus the Portland Sea Dogs, he went 6.2 innings, giving up just two runs and struck out seven again. 

The Pirates #1 prospect has been nothing short of dominant since joining Altoona in August of last year. In eight starts this season for the Curve, he’s posted a 3.02 ERA, a .220 batting average against and has 44 strikeouts, which are tied for fourth most in the EL. Keller’s promotion to AAA Indianapolis should come sooner rather than later.










Joe Musgrove Slated to Make Pirates Debut on Friday

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Chris O’Meara – AP

According to Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle, Joe Musgrove will make his debut for the Pirates on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

Musgrove was acquired by the Pirates from the Houston Astros as one of the four players in the Gerrit Cole deal. Last season, Musgrove was in the Astros rotation, but struggled with a 6.12 ERA in 15 starts. In late July, he was moved to the bullpen and performed much more effectively, posting an ERA of 1.44 in 23 appearances. Not only did the decision to have Musgrove pitch out of the bullpen revive his season, but he also was able to make the postseason roster for Houston.

Just a few days after Pirates pitchers and catchers reported, Musgrove dealt with shoulder discomfort. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that because Musgrove pitched deep into the World Series last year, that they were going to take it slowly with him anyway. The Pirates kept Musgrove in Extended Spring Training to build up arm strength. He made a total of four rehab outings and will now join the Pirates roster on Friday.