Crushing the Numbers: 7/23/13 to 7/30/2013
Coming out of the all-star break, the Crushers are now 7-5, and they continue to push their way up the East Division standings. They are now just two games behind Southern Illinois for third place, and five games back of the division lead.
Despite a combined record of 2-4, the starting pitching has been more than steady. In the last week, the five starters plus Mickey Jannis, who made a spot start in Monday’s double header, have a combined ERA of 2.90. That includes Adam Beach’s outlier 7.36 ERA.
The bullpen has been as productive as they come in the Frontier League. The relievers have only allowed four earned runs in the last eight games, and those were allowed by just two pitchers. Manager Jeff Isom can have confidence in any of his relievers coming into almost any situation, and that is the most valuable weapon a manager can have.
The offense has a whole has slowed down at the start of the second half, but the Crushers have seen encouraging signs from the likes of Andrew Davis, Kevin Berard, Russ Moldenhauer, Seth Granger, and even Juan Sanchez. As individual bats continue to get hot, it is only a matter of time before the entire lineup finds consistent production again.
Who’s Crushin’ it:
8 G, 11-31, .355 BA, .926 OPS, 4 RBI, 7 BB, 1 2B, 1 3B
Davis has been an on base machine in his last eight games. His .474 on base percentage is a credit to his newfound patience at the plate, and his team leading seven walks (a number manager Jeff Isom is thrilled about). Despite not hitting a home run, he still boasts a slugging percentage of .452 and shares the team lead in RBI. This is the kind of production the Crushers have been waiting for out of there best hitter.
8 G, 9-32, .281 BA, .736 OPS, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 5 R
Moldenhauer was never able to get it going in the first half, but perhaps he has finally found his stroke. He’s had plenty of time to figure things out under the radar because of production from Davis, Daniel Bowman, Anderson Hidalgo, and Emmanuel Quiles, but now it is his turn to carry the middle of the lineup. As his batting average continues to climb, it can be expected that his power numbers will rise as well.
7 G, 6-20, .300 BA, .764 OPS, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB
Berard has bounced between Crushin’ it and getting Crushed all season long. He started out on a tear as replaced Guantlett Eldemire atop the lineup, but then he fell out of favor with Isom and lost playing time with the addition of Craig Hertler. Now he has played in seven of the last eight games and has been the second most productive hitter of those with at least 20 at bats. Provided Hertler stays healthy, Berard won’t have the pressure of hitting leadoff anymore this season, and with his speed he can be a valuable bottom of the order hitter.
Who’s Getting Crushed:
2 G, 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 0-1, 7.36 ERA, 4 BB, .455 BAA
Beach has been the only starter to not quite find it yet. In his last two starts he has only lasted three innings, and four and one-third innings. He’s lacked pin point command and throws too many pitches early in the game. His ERA raises the combined ERA of the staff by almost a full run from 2.01 to 2.90. Despite all this, Beach is in no danger of losing his spot on the team. Isom and pitching coach Chris Mongiardo see a promising young arm, and are willing to work through his growing pains to reap the rewards later.
5 G, 3-19, .158 BA, .211 SLG%, .515 OPS, 5 K
Hidalgo has been getting much more playing time in the field, primarily at second base since the all-star break, but his bat hasn’t seemed to have come with him since leaving the designated hitter role. He’s still the team’s second leading hitter at .289 for the season, but he hasn’t been the force he was in the first half thus far in the second. He has two more strikeouts than hits in his last 19 at bats, and his .211 slugging percentage is worse than the batting average of eight of his teammates.
6 G, 0-10, .167 OBP, .167 OPS, 5 K, 1 E
Roney hasn’t played much this season, but he has played in six of the last eight games. This is entirely speculation, but perhaps he has been playing so much recently is so he has the opportunity to show he still belongs on this team. Wes Meadows, who was just acquired by the Crushers and has primarily been the DH, can also catch, so it is possible he will overtake Roney as the backup catcher. Roney didn’t help his cause by striking out in half of his at bats in the last week.
Comings and Goings via I-90:
As just mentioned, Wes Meadows was signed by the Crushers out of Otterbein University. Meadows is listed as an infielder, but has only been in the lineup as the designated hitter since joining the team, and he does have the ability to play catcher. Isom loves what he sees out of Meadows in the batters box. He could be a productive bat down the stretch for this team.
Reliever Brandon Smith joined the bullpen over the all-star break, and he has been impressive in limited action so far. While Dale Dickerson, Jordan Wellander, and Mickey Jannis have the backend of the bullpen on lockdown, Smith has pitched in a few pressure-packed innings and Isom has a growing confidence in him.
Ben Klafczynski, everybody’s favorite story, was cut by the Crushers to make room for Meadows. The former outfielder turned reliever was never able to get it going this year and the team had seen enough. He was released after allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning in the Crushers 9-0, no hit loss to Gateway in their second game of the second half.
32: The number of scoreless innings the bullpen has thrown since the all-star break. It is becoming the Crushers strength, and a good bullpen can carry a team into the playoffs. There’s no reason to believe this group of relievers can’t continue to find success.
1: Despite the success that the relievers have had, there has only been one save in the last eight games. It didn’t come from closer Dale Dickerson, however. Instead, it was picked up by Mickey Jannis, the Crushers do it all pitcher. He also made a spot start in the double header. The knuckleballer can do anything asked of him, and do it well.
5: The number of players who have at least three RBI in the last eight games, Davis, Bowman, Hertler, Granger, and Sanchez. No player has more than four. It just goes to show that any bat in this lineup can provide a big hit when needed.
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The Crushers have played in a number of close games since the all-star break, including two extra inning games. The first was the 17-inning marathon against the Miners, a game they won 5-4 just after 1:00 a.m. The second came on Sunday against Evansville, when the Crushers won 9-8 in the 14th inning. This Crushers team is developing a flair for the dramatic, and will continue to play close games almost every night. Extra innings are something that fans should get used to seeing with this club.
After a rare, Tuesday off day, the Crushers will kick off a six-game home stand on Wednesday night with three against the Washington Wild Things. The Crushers previously took two of three games from the Things from July 7th-9th.