Lehigh Valley continues to play sound fundamental baseball going 5-2 over the week past, now standing at 23-16, in first place (yes, first place) in the Northern DIvision of the International League, one game ahead of Scranton. The ‘Pigs remain in Scranton through Friday, to wrap up their four game series against the Yankees, before returning home for a lengthy homestand that begins with Gwinnett, the Braves AAA club.
Leaders (thru Tuesdays games) Hitting: Jeff Larish is tied for 6th in homers (7); Brandon Moss is tied for 8th in RBI’s(25); Rich Thompson is tied for the league lead in steals (15) and is 8th in OBP (.404).
Pitching: Jason Grilli is 8th in games (15); Eddie Bonine is tied for the lead in starts (8); Mike Zagurski is 9th in saves (5); Ryan Feireabend is tied for third in homers allowed (8).
Starting Pitchers: Vance Worley returned to the front of the Lehigh Valley rotation yesterday and had a rough outing against the Yankees, going just three innings and giving up 3 runs (including 2 on homers) on 7 hits. He walked one and struck out one. On the year: 5 starts, 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA; 25.2 IP 26H 7BB 26K; 1.29 WHIP.
Eddie Bonine pitched on just one day rest on Saturday after being ejected after throwing just 12 pitches on Thursday. Not good on Saturday, allowing 5 runs in just 2.2 innings. In his first two starts on the year, Bonine was 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA. In his 2 starts since, 2-2 with a 5.55 ERA. His 5.3 K/BB ratio is impressive.
Brian Gordon won the International League Pitcher of the Week last week, allowing just one earned run over 13.2 innings, allowing just 6 hits and a walk while striking out 9. Typically a middle reliever, Gordon has flourished in this new role and it should be interesting how he is handled with the return of Worley to the ‘Pigs rotation. One additional noteworthy stat is that going back to 2010, Gordon has not allowed a homer in his last 74 innings on the mound.
Nate Bump continues to be very hittable, although he gave up just one run in his seven innings in his last start. (10H). In his 7 starts this year, Bump is 2-3 with a 5.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.69. Opponents are reaching base at a .348 rate on him. Bump needs to string together several good starts, or something will have to give.
Brian Bass may have been on the edge of losing a rotation spot, but probably has a repreive after a complete game against Norfolk in his most recent outing allowing just 2 runs. The 29 year old RHP is 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA in his 7 starts, allowing 44 hits in his 36 innings. He has walked 17, struck out 23 and opponents are hitting a very high .308 against him.
Ryan Feireabend has shown improvement, going 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in his last 3 starts, after giving up 17 earned runs in 12plus innings in his 3 starts prior. The lefty needs to continue showing consistency and needs to throw more innings, averaging just 4.7 per start.
Infield: Tagg Bozied was activated from the DL after the suspension of Kevin Frandsen and immediately did what Tagg Boozied does, hit. He knocked two homers and has hit .333 over his first week, sharing time at 1B with Jeff Larish.
Josh Barfield has been playing much better, hitting in 11 of his last 14 games (.340), hitting with some power and stealing a few bases. With Frandsen’s departure, Barfield has been playing more consistently.
Jeff Larish has been going through tremendous struggles, at 1-21 in his last six games, with just 2 RBI in his last 16 games after 12 RBI in his first 18. With the activation of Bozied, Larish’s time may be cut a bit, along with an occasional start at 3B.
Ronnie Belliard has hit in his last 3 games after a 0-15 slump, however still has reached base safely in 28 of his 36 games played. Belliard has struggled lately in the field, with errors, both physical and mental. He is hitting just .212 with RISP.
Brian Bocock is still getting his feet on the ground after being activated a little over two weeks ago. He has made a few more errors than expected from Bocock, and has hit basically where is expected, just above the Mendoza line.
Probables: Wednesday: Bass; Thursday: Bonine; Friday: Gordon; Saturday: Feireabend
Notes: Bass’s complete game was the third in nine inning complete game in team history (Walrond in 2008, Kendrick in 2009)
–Domonic Brown has hit in all 10 games he has played with Lehigh Valley this year and has a 17 game hitting streak going back to last year.
–OF Delwyn Young has hit in 8 of his last 9 games (.315)
–In his last 9 games, Rich Thompson is hitting .344 and has stolen 24 consecutive bases going back to last year (15 straight this year).
–David Herndon has thrown seven scoreless innings in his last 4 appearances.
–In his last 7 games, Michael Schwimer has stranded 10 of 11 inherited runners, with a 1.04 ERA, allowing just 5 hits in 12 innings. Schwimer has an incredible 20 strikeouts over that period.
–Lehigh Valley is 5-1 in one run games this year after going 16-35 last year. Coaching???
–Lehigh Valley continues their draw at the gate, averaging over 8,500 this year, leading the International League.
–Lehigh Valley set a franchise record with 6 straight hits in the 6th inning of their game against Norfolk last Friday.