Tabata, Lincoln debut for the Pirates

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brad lincoln and jose tabata pirates.JPGThe Pirates had a front row seat to the debut of the Nationals savior on Tuesday, but last night it was Pittsburgh’s turn, with Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata taking their opening bows.

Lincoln had much promise when he was drafted, but one Tommy John surgery and a few years later he’s a 25 year-old rookie who doesn’t project to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Not that being a middle-of-the-rotation guy is not valuable, of course. You gotta have those types of guys too, so he could definitely be a key part of the next good Pirates team.  As for his performance: He have up five earned runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out three and walking two. Meh, sure, but as we noted all over the place yesterday, baseball history is rotten with good pitchers who had less-than-stellar debuts.

As Aaron mentioned yesterday, Tabata has suffered a similar decline in his stock, but at age 21 he still has a lot of time to become a major contributor. His night was better: he went 2 for 4 out of the leadoff spot with two singles, a walk and a stolen base. Only downer: he had to leave the game in the eighth when his hammy started to cramp up.

The next big glimpse into the Pirates future: Pedro Alvarez.  He’s raking down at Indianapolis — he had three hits and two RBIs yesterday and leads the team with 12 homers and 50 RBIs — and I would expect that the Pirates will call him up sometime soon.

It may not feel like it sometimes, but there’s hope in Pittsburgh.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.