On Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate – the Altoona Curve – will play game one of the Eastern League Championship Series
In 2010 the Double-A Altoona Curve won the Eastern League Championship. That team was anchored by future Pirates such as Alex Presley, Jared Hughes, Jeff Locke, Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson, and Tony Watson, among others.
Now, the 2017 Altoona Curve have an opportunity to put themselves right next to the 2010 team in franchise history. For the first time since that championship season the Curve have returned to the Eastern League Championship Series. This championship series begins at 7:00 PM tonight in Trenton, New Jersey.
In game one tonight left-handed starting pitcher Brandon Waddell will get the ball for the Curve. The 23-year-old Waddell owned a 3.55 ERA, 3.53 FIP, and averaged 7.64 K/9 in 15 starts in the regular season.
Game two in Trenton is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Wednesday night. Right-handed pitcher J.T. Brubaker will make the start for Altoona on Wednesday night. In 129 2/3 regular season innings pitched Brubaker averaged 7.57 K/9 and 3.12 BB/9 while owing a 4.44 ERA and a 3.67 FIP.
Games three through five will be played in Altoona beginning on Thursday night. However, hopefully, Altoona will not need all three of these games in order to capture the Eastern League Championship.
Pittsburgh Pirates’ top pitching prospect Mitch Keller will start game three on Thursday night. In his one start in the Eastern League Division Series Keller pitched a Maddox. He pitched a complete game shut out, he needed just 90 pitches to do so, and he faced the minimum. This comes after being dominant at Double-A this season as he owned a 45:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.12 ERA, and a 2.50 FIP in 34 2/3 innings pitched.
If needed, games four and five starters will be Alex McRae and Austin Coley. In 149 2/3 innings pitched in the regular season McRae averaged just 5.35 K/9, but he also had a very low walk rate of 2.16 BB/9. His ERA was 3.61, FIP was 3.66, and he allowed just nine home runs.
As for Coley, next to Keller, he was Altoona’s best starting pitcher this season. He owned a 3.01 ERA and a 3.34 FIP while averaging 7.14 K/9 and just 1.94 BB/9 in 143 2/3 innings pitched.
In this series, the Altoona Curve will be without shortstop Cole Tucker who injured his hand in the clinching game of the Eastern League Division series. However, infielder Kevin Kramer is back from injury and will return to the active roster for this series. In 53 games at Double-A this season Kramer owned a .380 on-base percentage, .388 wOBA, and a 141 wRC+.
Good luck to the Altoona Curve in their quest to bring the Eastern League Championship back to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization!