The Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff is given very little credit especially when considering some of the strong numbers they are putting up. While the staff doesn’t have a pitcher that stands out like a Clayton Kershaw, it does have depth. A lot of depth. A staff built for a long series, not so much a one game playoff.
The numbers surprised me. I think they might surprise you as well. The team now has the third lowest ERA in Major League Baseball. The Bucs were second before that joke of a start last night by Frank the Tank Liriano.
The team also leads baseball in fewest pitches per out. The team is number one in ground ball outs, or GB% at 53.1.
The team allows the lowest number of fly ball outs. Fly balls can lead to home runs.
Home runs are bad. Everyone knows that and this is what really caught me eye and stood out to me.
So it’s no surprise that the Pirates with the highest ground ball rate ….. and the lowest fly ball rate, have given up the fewest home runs in Major League Baseball.
Think about that…the starters have allowed the fewest bombs in MLB, just 57. The relievers have only allowed 32. (The Braves bullpen lead with just 21 allowed)
It’s mesmerizing when you consider that The Jonathan Sanchez Experiment gave up five in his four starts.
It’s a testament to the quality (?) of the arms that made eighteen starts in the first half of the season by pitchers named James McDonald, Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin and Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez gave up four, JMac and Straight Outta Cumpton one each.
So before you scoff at buying those postseason tickets today, think about a baseball team that has eleven pitchers making starts before the All-Star break–that team never ends up leading pitching categories.
Well that has changed in 2013 too.
You know about the mass improvement in holding runners on the bases and improving the caught stealing rate from 11% to 33%. You know that the staff already has more shutouts, 15, than it did all of last season, 10. More complete games, more wins–a lot more wins, but keeping the ball in the yard, that’s really important.
After the break, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Kris Johnson, Gerrit Cole and Cumpton have allowed just 14 bombs. Burnett has only given up one in nine starts!
Looking at the starting staff in 2012, those starters gave up 106 homers. A.J. allowed 18 homers-16 in the second half. JMac and Kevin Correia allowed 20 each. When it was all tallied at the end of 2012, Pirates pitchers allowed 153 homers.
In total, the Pirates pitchers have allowed 89 homers in 2013. The fewest in Major League Baseball.
That’s a big deal.