Keeping results and the Pirates entirely aside for a second, I think that the early results the Pirates have gotten from the Edinson Volquez Experiment have been really fascinating. You can navigate Volquez’s FanGraphs page and his Brooks Baseball page and see that Volquez is throwing about the same speed last year and that the break on his pitches looks more or less the same as it has in the past. His pitch selection is even similar to the last couple of years. The only real difference is that he’s throwing way, way more strikes than he ever has in the past.
For whatever reason, though, the result is that Volquez’s strikeout rate has gone down as sharply as his walk rate though the early part of the season. Part of the reason that I’ve been OK with the Pirates showing a bit of patience with Volquez this year is that even in his bad starts, he’s generally looked like a much different pitcher than last year. That indicates progress to me, and with Volquez’s talent, it seems worth pursuing this at least a bit longer. I’m not exactly sure what to make of everything we’ve seen from Volquez thus far other than that it’s different, and that that has to be a good thing, given the starting point.
Of course, that’s all from an intellectual perspective. From a more realistic perspective, the Pirates are in the process of trying to dig out of a pretty big hole back into contention, and they need “good” more than they need “different” from Volquez. Only so much patience can really be afforded. His last start was fine, but the homer-happy Volquez that the Bucs have seen for most of May was not.
Anyway, Jon Niese starts for the Mets tonight, so Josh Harrison is at third and Jose Tabata is in right. I suspect that if Harrison keeps hitting, we’ll see him in the infield against lefties quite a bit once Gregory Polanco shows up in Pittsburgh. I also think it’s awfully noticeable that Jordy Mercer, who’s slumping again, isn’t in the lineup against a lefty, though I don’t know what to make of it, exactly.
Anyway, the Pirates are 23-27 and that’s much better than things were a week ago, but it’s not good enough yet. The first pitch tonight is at 7:10.