Launching Off With The Aeros: 6/12/12 - 6/18/12
The Akron Aeros spent the past week out on the road in New Britain and Reading where they lost 5 of their 8 games to fall to 42-25 on the season. The Aeros played 2 doubleheaders over the course of this road trip, which certainly added stress to their time on the road. With a suspended game to finish before the normally scheduled affair Tuesday against Binghamton and then another normal doubleheader on Thursday, the Aeros will continue to have a busy schedule, but at least they’ll be home.
Despite the rough week, the Aeros kept their stranglehold on the Western Division, where they are 7.5 games up on the Harrisburg Senators. The Reading Phillies closed the gap to 3 games after taking 4 of 5 from the Aeros last week (the Trenton Thunder are also 3 games back of Akron), but the Aeros remain the class of the Eastern League. After their 5 games in 3 days homestand against the Binghamton Mets, the 1st place Aeros will travel to Altoona for a Friday through Monday 4 game series. After that, the Aeros will be at Canal Park for an 8 game homestand.
The power is finally coming back on for OF Thomas Neal, as he ended his season-long home run drought with two over the past week. Those home runs aided Neal’s .308/.345/.615 slash line and .394 wOBA from the past week and make it look like he may finally be turning the corner. Neal’s 10 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances are a concern, but if he can find a balance between having the power back in his game and limiting the strikeouts, then he will be back on his way to becoming the right-handed hitting outfielder the Indians truly need.
The recovery of OF Nick Weglarz continued for a second straight week. Weglarz cooled a bit from the torrid pace he had two weeks ago, but a .269/.406/.615 slash line, .430 wOBA, and 2 home runs is nothing to sneeze at. Like Neal, Weglarz had his troubles with the strikeouts over the past week (11 in 32 plate appearances), but if the power is back for Weglarz, then the Indians can live with them. Look at Adam Dunn on this season: do you think the White Sox are disappointed with his .227/.370/.567 slash line, .395 wOBA, 37.0 K%, 18.3 BB%, and 23 home runs? If you look at Weglarz’s stats since being DFAed (.293/.419/.600 slash line, .440 wOBA, 31.2 K%, 17.2 BB%, and 5 home runs in 93 plate appearances), they certainly look quite a bit like Dunn’s. It’s only been 23 games since Weglarz came back to Akron, but this is a great start for him.
It was quite a week for the Aeros’ bullpen. As they only had a 4.63 SO/9, they weren’t all that dominant, but the Aeros’ bullpen posted an elite 1.93 ERA and 2.69 FIP in 23.1 IP and did not allow a single home run. RP Kyle Landis skates by a bit this week (5.40 ERA, 4.40 FIP), but the others – Rob Bryson (3.00 ERA, 1.87 FIP), Jose De La Torre (0.00 ERA, 2.20 FIP), Preston Guilmet (0.00 ERA, 2.34 FIP), Bryan Price (2.45 ERA, 2.93 FIP), Bryce Stowell (3.86 ERA, 3.63 FIP), and Loek van Mil (0.00 ERA, 1.82 FIP) – more than made up for it. The Aeros have gotten strong production from their bullpen throughout this season and will need that to continue if they want to stay atop the Eastern League.
(Honorable Mentions: Brett Brach, Chun Chen, Paolo Espino, Ryan Rohlinger, Steven Wright)
(Previous Winners: Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8), Kyle Bellows (5/22, 5/29), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22), Paolo Espino (5/29), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29, 6/5), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), Kyle Landis (6/5), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15), Roberto Perez (6/12), Ryan Rohlinger (6/5), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8), Bryce Stowell (4/24, 6/5), Loek van Mil (6/5), Nick Weglarz (6/12), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8, 6/12))
Sometimes players simply have bad games. Such was the case for SP T.J. House on Friday, who turned in a real clunker (4.1 IP, 7 earned runs, 13 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 2 home runs). Before that start, House had a 4-1 record, 2.49 ERA, 3.18 FIP, and 1.06 WHIP, so it’s not like he was struggling before Friday. House just had a bad game against the Reading Phillies and will have to rebound in his next start. House has been on cloud 9 since being called up to Akron; now he has to show he can rebound from his bad start this Wednesday.
SS Juan Diaz only had 2 hits over the past week, but he made one of those really count by hitting it over the fence. Such has been life in Akron since Diaz was demoted from Cleveland; he shows flashes of ability but struggles overall. His .080/.179/.200 slash line and .179 wOBA from the past week is nowhere near his true talent level, but there is still considerable doubt as to whether Diaz can be a successful Major League shortstop. What Diaz needs to do now is show that he can get on base (he only owns a .272 OBP this year) and be a consistent tablesetter for the rest of the team.
With the activation of Jordan Henry, it would seem that OF Ben Copeland will return to his normal role as the Aeros’ 4th outfielder. Nothing against Copeland, but his .160/.192/.280 slash line and .199 wOBA over the past week (which isn’t all that different from his .191/.250/.294 slash line and .263 wOBA on the season) should not be playing on a regular basis, let alone in all the games in a week. Copeland did appear in all 8 games the Aeros played this past week, but that should not be the norm going forward. If that time is available, I would rather see someone like Tyler Holt called up to play in those games instead of Copeland. Nothing against Copeland, but his time as a legitimate prospect is over.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Jordan Henry, Matt Lawson, Roberto Perez, Davis Stoneburner)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22, 5/29, 6/5, 6/12), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8, 6/5), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15, 6/12), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22, 5/29), Ben Copeland (5/29), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1), Tim Fedroff (5/22), Preston Guilmet (5/22), Kyle Landis (5/22), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22, 5/29), Thomas Neal (6/12), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15), Giovanni Soto (5/15, 6/5), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8), Steven Wright (5/15))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
Superficially, SP Giovanni Soto has been solid over his past 5 starts, posting a 3.81 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.53 SO/9 and 2.86 BB/9 in 28.1 IP. The issue with Soto comes with the 7 home runs he’s allowed in that time span. Soto has had a real problem keeping the ball in the park of late and it’s starting to become a real problem that needs addressed. Those home runs have jumped his FIP to 5.25 and raise the question of whether or not Soto can stick in the rotation long-term. There’s still a chance this is nothing (Soto hadn’t allowed a home run in his first 8 starts this year), but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
From the beginning of the season to May 15, 1B/DH Adam Abraham was going strong with a .271/.411/.494 slash line and .422 wOBA. More importantly, Abraham held a 12:20 SO:BB ratio and had a strong control of the plate. Since then, however, Abraham has simply fallen into a rut. In the five weeks since, Abraham holds a .172/.244/.279 slash line and a .249 wOBA. That is mostly the byproduct of Abraham’s SO:BB ratio falling to 33:10 in that timeframe. With players like Jeremie Tice and Jesus Aguilar who play the same type of positions as Abraham pushing up from Carolina, Abraham needs to turn it around quickly if he wants to hold on to his starting spot in the Aeros’ lineup.
20 doubles, 1 home run. When the Indians converted Chun Chen to first base in the offseason, they certainly were hoping to see more than gap power out of him. Despite his impressive .320/.410/.429 slash line and .384 wOBA, Chen is still buoyed by a high .415 BABIP and has not shown the power necessary to stick at first base long-term. He’s doing plenty to help the Aeros win this year, but his future will be dim if Chen ends up having 20 doubles for each home run he hits.
Odds & Ends
The Aeros welcomed back OF Jordan Henry this past week after offseason microfracture surgery. As we’ve seen with Grady Sizemore, microfracture surgery is not easy to come back from, and Henry has struggled early on (.154/.143/.154 slash line, .129 wOBA). Hopefully as Henry gets more reps and continues recovering, he’ll get back into the swing of things.
Well, my hope was that I wouldn’t be writing about SP Steven Wright this week other than to congratulate him on his promotion to Columbus, but that isn’t the case. Wright is still plugging away here in Akron, posting 2 solid starts over the past week (2.45 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 1.18 WHIP in 11 IP) and should be called up as soon as possible. There’s really no more to it at this point.
In other starting pitcher news, SP Brett Brach continued to fill in well, logging a 0.75 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and 0.75 WHIP in 12 IP. Brach still isn’t striking many people out (3.00 SO/9 over the past week, 4.70 SO/9 on the year), but control is his game. Similarly, SP Paolo Espino pitched well without being over powering in his only start (3.18 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 1.76 WHIP, 4.50 SO/9 in 5.2 IP), as did spot starter Toru Murata (6.00 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.33 WHIP in 3 IP).
C Roberto Perez continued on his frustrating season at the plate this past week, showing great patience and drawing walks (28.6 BB%, .385 OBP), striking out way too much (35.7 K%), and having no success with the bat (.111 AVG, .111 SLG). Perez’s season has been more of the same (.212/.351/.299 slash line, .320 wOBA, 20.5 K%, 15.2 BB%), which is not quite good enough despite his elite defense behind the dish.
After the Aeros lost Kyle Bellows to the DL, Ryan Rohlinger has done the majority of filling in at third base for him. Rohlinger struggled a bit this past week (.200/.273/.350 slash line, .330 wOBA) and hasn’t been all that impressive on the season (.232/.353/.316 slash line, .326 wOBA), but since Giovanny Urshela isn’t exactly tearing down the house in Carolina (.246/.292/.327 slash line, .286 wOBA), the Aeros don’t have many other options.
As for the other unmentioned hitters to this point – C Michel Hernandez, INF Matt Lawson, and INF Davis Stoneburner, it basically suffices to say that they had a .152/.278/.239 slash line and .250 wOBA this past week. There’s a reason they typically are on the bench.
The Aeros lost 3B Kyle Bellows to the DL last week after he sprained his left wrist. Bellows had seemed to be turning his season around before that, so hopefully he’ll rebound quickly. In other DL news, the Aeros had C Dwight Childs transferred to AAA Columbus off of their DL and also saw OF Jordan Henry activated after offseason microfracture surgery.
Moves (Like Orbit)
June 11 OF Trevor Crowe promoted to AAA Columbus
June 12 INF Matt Lawson promoted to AA Akron
June 14 C Dwight Childs promoted to AAA Columbus
June 15 3B Kyle Bellows placed on DL (sprained left wrist)
June 15 Jordan Henry activated from DL
If you want to follow Jim, he’s @DarkestDiamond
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.