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.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”