Launching Off With The Aeros: 9/4/12 – 9/10/12
Despite losing the first two games of their best-of-five series against the Bowie Baysox, your Akron Aeros roared back by winning three straight do-or-die games at Canal Park to win their series and move on to the Eastern League Championship Series. The key moment in the series was the Aeros’ four-run 6th inning in Game 3 Friday night. That inning put them ahead 4-2 and set them on their way to a thrilling series win.
The 6th inning included one of the wackiest rallies I’ve ever seen. After a Tyler Holt single scored Davis Stoneburner and put runners on first and third, the Aeros scored on a dropped fly ball to the right fielder, a caught line drive to the first baseman that had Holt tagging from third after Chun Chen was nearly caught being too far off of second base, and another error – this one by the third baseman. After such a crazy inning, I asked Aeros manager Chris Tremie was he was thinking while it was all unfolding.
“It was exciting,” he said. “I’m sure the fans enjoyed it. It was an unusual inning, for sure, and we benefitted from it. We got some heads-up baserunning from [Tyler] Holt and advancing on some balls and taking advantage of errors, and it ended up being very, very beneficial for us.”
No kidding. The Aeros never trailed in the series again despite an unsightly offensive performance (.235/.294/.359 slash line, .303 wOBA, 25.3 K%, 6.9 BB%, only 18 runs) that would doom most teams in a playoff series. The Aeros escaped, though, and will host the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League Championship Series Tuesday and Wednesday night at Canal Park. Those two games will be the last ones at Canal Park for the season, so get out and support your Aeros one more time!
Danny Salazar, Toru Murata, & Brett Brach:
After two poor starts to start off the series, it looked like starting pitching was going to doom the Aeros’ playoff chances. Luckily, SPs Danny Salazar, Toru Murata, and Brett Brach all turned in superb starts to help lead the Aeros to a series victory over Bowie. Salazar started their run off on Friday night when he only allowed three hits and three walks while striking out eight in 5.1 innings, only making one real mistake (a two-run home run). Murata followed Salazar up on Saturday night, pitching six innings of one run ball with four strikeouts, while only allowing four hits and three walks. Finally, while Brach didn’t technically start, he pitched 6.2 innings after Carlos Carrasco’s one inning of rehab work, allowing only six hits, no walks, and two runs while striking out four Bowie batters. These three pitchers combining for five runs in 18.0 innings over the final three games of the series broke the Aeros out of their slump and led them to the Eastern League finals.
Considering how poorly the Akron Aeros collectively hit last week, the only man deserving of an In Orbit nod is INF Davis Stoneburner. I do find it kind of hard to give Stoneburner the award based on seven plate appearances, but he managed significantly more damage in that time (an OPS of 1.143, .265 higher than Matt Lawson’s second place effort; a wOBA of .483, .097 above the man in second place, Adam Abraham). It really is a miracle that the Aeros found a way to win with how awful they were at the plate and they might not have won the series without the contributions from Stoneburner.
By saying “The Bullpen,” I’m going to take Toru Murata and Paolo Espino out (since they pitched starter’s innings) and insert SP Carlos Carrasco in since he only pitched in the 1st inning. Carrasco was lights out, facing the minimum and striking out three in two shutdown innings, but the rest of the team was very good as well. RP Bryce Stowell struggled (5.40 ERA, 5.00 FIP in 1.2 innings) and RP Trey Haley was his normal self (2.2 innings, one unearned run, three hits, two walks, five strikeouts, two hit by pitch), but other than that, the Aeros could not have asked for much more out of their bullpen. RPs Shawn Armstrong (0.00 ERA, 1.70 FIP in 1.1 innings), Rob Bryson (0.00 ERA, 4.20 FIP in 1.0 inning), Preston Guilmet (0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP in 3.0 innings), Kyle Landis (0.00 ERA, 2.70 FIP in 2.0 innings), and Hector Rondon (0.00 ERA, 2.20 FIP in 2.0 innings) did their job and put the Aeros into the next round.
(Honorable Mentions: Adam Abraham, Tyler Holt, Matt Lawson)
(Previous Winners: Jesus Aguilar (8/28, 9/4), Adam Abraham (5/1, 5/8, 6/26, 7/24), Kyle Bellows (5/22, 5/29), Brett Brach (9/4), Rob Bryson (6/19, 7/3, 7/31), Chun Chen (5/15, 5/22, 6/26, 7/10), Jose De La Torre (6/19), Juan Diaz (7/10, 7/31), Paolo Espino (5/29, 8/7), Tim Fedroff (4/17, 5/29, 6/5), Jared Goedert (4/17, 4/24), Preston Guilmet (6/19), Tyler Holt (8/14), T.J. House (7/17, 8/7), Kyle Landis (6/5, 6/19), Matt Lawson (7/10, 8/21), T.J. McFarland (4/17, 5/15, 5/22), Toru Murata (8/14, 9/4), Thomas Neal (5/1, 5/15, 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, 7/24, 8/7, 8/28), Matt Packer (7/24), Roberto Perez (6/12, 7/31), Bryan Price (6/19), Ryan Rohlinger (6/5, 8/28), Danny Salazar (8/21), Giovanni Soto (5/1, 5/8, 7/17), Davis Stoneburner (8/21), Bryce Stowell (4/24, 6/5, 6/19), Jeremie Tice (7/3), Loek van Mil (6/5, 6/19), Nick Weglarz (6/12, 6/19, 8/14), Steven Wright (4/24, 5/8, 6/12, 7/17))
Paolo Espino & T.J. House:
The Aeros’ starting pitching may have saved them in Games 3-5, but it nearly doomed them in Games 1 and 2. In Game 1, SP Paolo Espino (who wasn’t technically the starter after relieving Carlos Carrasco in the second inning) struggled through 4.1 innings, allowing five hits, three walks, four runs, three strikeouts, and three home runs. Then, the next day, SP T.J. House only pitched 5.0 innings, allowing six hits, no walks, one hit by pitch, two strikeouts, four runs, and two home runs. So combined, Espino and House only made it through 9.1 innings with 11 hits, three walks, one hit by pitch, five strikeouts, and five (five!) home runs. Luckily for the Aeros the team was able to rebound upon returning to Canal Park, but if the Aeros want to win the Eastern League, they will need much better performances out of Espino and House against Trenton.
1B/DH Chun Chen may have been one of the Eastern League’s best hitters on the season but he has struggled greatly so far in the playoffs. Chen may have had two hits and two RBI in Sunday’s series-clincher, but he was only 2-for-17 on the series and had seven strikeouts. Manager Chris Tremie said after the game Friday night that Chen is not dealing with any lingering issues from the thumb injury that sidelined him for over a month earlier in the season, so hopefully Sunday’s outing was a slump-buster and Chen will be the guy we saw hitting well all year long in the finals.
There is still no doubt that 1B Jesus Aguilar is a name to watch in 2013 as he is the Indians’ first baseman of the future, but that doesn’t change the fact that his 2012 playoff debut was pretty awful. Aguilar only managed a 3-for-16 series with one double and a 4:1 SO:BB, not quite the powerful hitter he is capable of being. Between Aguilar and Chen hitting in the middle of their lineup, it’s a miracle that the Aeros advanced. I guess it’s best to just be happy that the Aeros got lucky at the right time and got some great pitching down the stretch. Just know that if it’s this bad against Trenton, there is little chance that Akron will win the Eastern League.
(Dishonorable Mentions: Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Henry, Ryan Rohlinger, Nick Weglarz)
(Previous Losers: Adam Abraham (5/22, 5/29, 6/5, 6/12, 7/17), Kyle Bellows (4/24, 5/1, 5/8, 6/5), Eric Berger (4/17), Brett Brach (5/15, 6/12, 6/26, 7/10, 7/17), Rob Bryson (5/15, 5/22, 5/29, 7/24, 8/7), Chun Chen (9/4), Ben Copeland (5/29, 6/19), Jose De La Torre (5/8, 5/15, 6/26), Juan Diaz (4/17, 5/1, 6/19, 7/3), Tim Fedroff (5/22), Preston Guilmet (5/22, 7/24, 9/4), Jordan Henry (6/26, 7/17), Michel Hernandez (7/31), Tyler Holt (7/24, 8/7), T.J. House (6/19, 9/4), Francisco Jimenez (6/26), Kyle Landis (5/22, 6/26, 7/24, 9/4), Matt Lawson (8/28), Toru Murata (5/15, 5/22, 5/29, 7/24), Thomas Neal (6/12), Roberto Perez (4/17, 4/24, 8/7), Bryan Price (5/8, 5/22), Mason Radeke (5/22), Ryan Rohlinger (4/24, 5/15, 7/31, 8/14, 8/21), Giovanni Soto (5/15, 6/5, 6/26, 7/31, 8/14), Davis Stoneburner (7/3, 7/24), Bryce Stowell (6/26, 8/21, 8/28), Tyler Sturdevant (6/26), Jeremie Tice (7/10), Justin Toole (8/14), Nick Weglarz (5/1, 5/8, 8/21, 8/28), Steven Wright (5/15, 7/3, 7/10))
See full weekly and yearly Aeros stats here.
A few weeks ago, I wondered what OF/DH Nick Weglarz’s role would be in the playoffs, as it seems his playing time was being squeezed. After only getting three plate appearances in a five-game series, it is pretty clear that Weglarz’s time with the Indians is nearing its end. If Weglarz isn’t good enough to play regularly in a AA playoff series – and he hits eighth in the only game he plays in and is pinch-hit for – you probably aren’t anywhere close to the Major League radar. We saw a glimpse of what Weglarz is capable of in the middle of the season, but unfortunately, it looks like this is the real Nick Weglarz.
With Chun Chen and Jesus Aguilar picking a bad time to slump, the Aeros needed to find pop in other places in order to advance. As it turns out, 3B/OF Adam Abraham and 2B Matt Lawson both had some pop as they both posted a .313 ISO. They both went 4-for-16 with one triple and one home run, while Lawson had two walks to Abraham’s one. Neither of them managed to get on base all that much, but their power was an important contribution in getting the Aeros just enough offense to move on.
It is a rare sight to see OF Jordan Henry with a 33.3 K% in one game – let alone over an entire week. It really wasn’t Henry’s week, as he struggled to a .211/.286/.263 slash line and .256 wOBA in 21 plate appearances. It would seem unlikely that so many Aeros hitters will be this bad over the next week, so maybe they will break out in a big way against Trenton in the finals. Let’s hope.
Odds & Ends
3B Lonnie Chisenhall could have been better statistically (.200/.308/.200 slash line, .249 wOBA in 13 plate appearances), but personally I was just happy to see him back out and playing. The Indians really need Chisenhall to establish himself as the answer at third base in 2013 and just getting back out on the field is a great start.
SS/3B Ryan Rohlinger had a big home run for the Aeros early in the week, but his overall week left quite a bit to be desired (.235/.235/.412 slash line, .309 wOBA in 18 plate appearances). The same held true for C Roberto Perez, who managed a good .333 AVG and .353 OBP but did not have any extra base hits.
OF Tyler Holt had a pretty good week at the top of the Akron lineup over the past week (.294/.368/.412 slash line, .359 wOBA in 21 plate appearances), making him the big exception for the week with how bad almost everyone else was.
OF Delvi Cid and SS Ronny Rodriguez are simply defensive replacements and pinch runners right now, as they combined for one plate appearance this week (a Cid strikeout). They both could be starters in Akron next year, but for now, they are just along for the ride.
The Aeros didn’t have anyone go on the DL during their playoff series. As of right now, they have had no action with their DL headed into their series against Trenton.
Moves (Like Orbit)
September 4 SP Carlos Carrasco received on Major League Rehab Assignment
September 4 3B Lonnie Chisenhall received on Major League Rehab Assignment
September 5 C Patric Tolentino demoted to High-A Carolina
September 5 RP Jose Flores demoted to High-A Carolina
September 5 OF Delvi Cid promoted from High-A Carolina
September 5 SS Ronny Rodriguez promoted from High-A Carolina
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 email@example.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.