Today is the first day since July 31st that's begun without the Pittsburgh Pirates in first place. Let's hope that this isn't the start of a trend. There are a few waiver-wire notes that I think could be worth talking about.
Kendrys Morales was claimed off of waivers yesterday, and the claiming team is still unknown. Morales is having a nice year with the Mariners (.281/.338/.446 with 17 home runs). He's a switch hitter doesn't have much of a platoon split this year but he's been better against righties over his career. It's not a Neil Walker platoon split, but it's there. He'd make plenty of sense for the Pirates at first base in the same way that Justin Morneau would (he's been a better hitter than Morneau recently, but I think that Morneau's concussion problems make his recent numbers pretty hard to judge).
Marlon Byrd was also claimed today by a "National League team," according to Jon Heyman. I would've told you a week ago that the Pirates would probably be more focused on left-handed hitters, but Byrd's been excellent this year (.285/.330/.518 with 21 homers, 26 doubles, and five triples) and suddenly with Starling Marte's injury, the Pirates need bats without a qualification.
Both links are via MLB Trade Rumors, which, as always, is invaluable at these sorts of junctures.
Because of the way that waivers work, the Pirates would have a much earlier claim on Byrd than they would on Morales (National League teams get claims on National League players first, and vice versa), so they are therefore much more likely to be the claiming mystery team in that case. It's possible, of course, that they are both mystery teams; they could find a use for both players on their roster right now plus September and expanded rosters are coming soon and they have a bunch of flexibility for their playoff roster due to the number of people they have on the 60-day DL that aren't likely to be back (Karstens, McKenry, and Wandy Rodriguez all seem unlikely to return this year, while James McDonald is a definite maybe at this point). I'm not saying that they will trade for one or the other or both of these guys, simply that they probably could trade for both of them, if they are in fact the team that's been awarded the claim in either situation (and I do think that they should probably do something about the lineup, if they do have the opportunity).
Eno Sarris has a great piece at FanGraphs about AJ Burnett's knuckle-curve today. You should go read it. I'm all in favor of Burnett teaching this pitch to Gerrit Cole.
You might have noticed this already, but the Pirates have used Monday's off-day to give Gerrit Cole a couple of extra days off. That means that Jeff Locke will pitch against the Brewers tonight, Charlie Morton will pitch tomorrow, and Cole will pitch Thursday. Cole's scheduled turn in the rotation was tonight, which means that with the off-day he'll get another three days of rest between starts. I'm all in favor of keeping Cole healthy (Matt Harvey's injury is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night), but Locke pitching tonight means that Locke will presumably also pitch on Sunday against the Cardinals. That's also the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.
It is mind boggling that Hurdle keeps running Locke out there every fifth day to get lit up like a Christmas tree. I get the feeling he thinks the team's spot in the playoffs is secure. It is not. The Pirates cannot afford to be giving away games, especially not to the Brewers.
I can't believe either Morales or Byrd would have made it to the Pirates without being claimed; there are too many AL teams with corner/DH needs for Morales to make it through, and if the Reds didn't put a claim in on a guy making fifteen bucks for the rest of the year so they could keep him out of Pittsburgh, then the Reds FO is even more stupid than I think they are.
if the Reds didn't put a claim in on a guy making fifteen bucks for the
rest of the year so they could keep him out of Pittsburgh, then the Reds
FO is even more stupid than I think they are.