The Usual Suspects
The IronPigs come into tonight’s contest versus the Rochester Red Wings leading the International League North by 4.5 games over the hard-charging Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The foes from the Wyoming Valley have gone 8-2 over their last 10 while the IronPigs have chugged along at but 5-5. A quick peek at the other divisions shows similar pre-break surges by the “Usual Suspects:” IL South leading Durham has gone 8-2 in the last 10, as has IL West stalwart Columbus, who like Scranton still trails in the division race–this time to league-best Toledo who has suffered an even worse swoon than the ‘Pigs at 3-7.
The IronPigs are coming off a 2/2 home and away with Syracuse where they split in each city. .500 against cellar dwellers like the ‘cuse is not going to cut it in the playoff race, unfortunately.
The Pitcher Carousel
When Vince Velasquez went on the DL recently after being struck with the ball in one of the most incredible MLB plays I’ve seen this year (aside: Has he been pitching with the wrong arm all along? Could this be the problem with his inconsistency? I digress) it was inevitable that the Phillies would need a spot starter at the very least–if not an additional starter due to the single-admission doubleheader in New York on Monday.
Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin, the AAA All Stars and two most likely candidates based on performance, appear to be getting their normal work. De Los Santos went 6.0 innings in last night’s win in Syracuse, while Irvin is still listed as tonight’s starter. While Enyel only threw 77 pitches and Irvin could certainly see a light work load, you wouldn’t think they’d push them prior to their MLB debut unless they had to, would you? Nevertheless, the All Star Breaks not lining up–MLB not until July 16-19–is kind of strange, and might get the IronPigs off the hook for a bit while short pitchers next week.
De Los Santos was named to the MLB “Futures Game” to be played in Washington DC as part of the MLB All Star festivities. Whether he pitches in the AAA All Star game, or in the Majors this week, he’ll likely be away from the IronPigs early next week. He’ll be on the “World” team.
As he’s already on the 40-man, and the Phillies get an extra 25-man spot for the double dip on Monday, It’s likely Drew Anderson could get the spot start for Philly in one of those games.
Regression To The Mean (kinda)
Tonight will likely mark our first look at INF Ryan Goins as a member of the IronPigs. He joined the team at the expense of INF Alexi Amarista during the home section of the Syracuse series. He had been released by Kansas City after hitting .226 in 41 games earlier this season. The last time he played extensively in the International League was in 2014 with Buffalo, when he hit .284/.337/.353. Since then, he’s mostly been with Toronto in the Majors. My thinking on the signing is that the Phillies want to make sure they have some alternatives for the left side of the infield with the recent injuries to Crawford and Florimon, and the prolonged absence of Will Middlebrooks. Amarista, while an MLB veteran, is much more of a second baseman than shortstop or the hot corner.
INF Dean Anna is an IL veteran who has seen MLB time with the Yankees and St Louis. He’s hitting .256 with a .661 OPS this season, while his career MiLB averages are .275/.761.
INF Trevor Plouffe has been providing some power and playing all over the infield, he’s hitting .238/.846 this season compared with career minors numbers of .256/.733. The average is down a bit, but the OPS is up nicely.
INF Danny Espinosa was also added recently. He had a couple nice years in Washington and had played in the IL with Syracuse and Buffalo. He’s currently hitting .094/.208 in a small sample with the IronPigs while his career minors numbers are more like .249/.734
In the outfield, Adron Chambers is an MLB veteran from St Louis who is hitting .257/.686 with the IronPigs while his career numbers are .277/.753 in the minors.
OF Danny Ortiz came over as a free agent from the Pirates organizations, where he made his MLB debut last season. He hit .270/.760 last season but has been struggling this season to the tune of .201/.568 as a corner outfielder.
Veteran OF Collin Cowgill whom I remember mostly as an Angel despite his time with several other MLB squads, has hit .234/.727 this season compared with a career of .277/.796 in the minors.
By all accounts, it’s a good clubhouse, and these guys play hard every night for us. However, should the pitching struggle through injuries, call-ups, and fluctuations, we’ll need these veteran hitters to rise up and be what they can be in the second half.
Unlike last season, when our Piggies went a combined 20-22 on Fridays and Saturdays, this season we’ve mashed our way to a combined 19-6 when the park is the fullest. Bring the energy, indeed.
“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE PLOUFFE!”:
Over his past nine games, INF Trevor Plouff e (2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, R) has now hit four home runs — two
have been game-winners (6/25 vs. SWB; 6/30 @ ROC) and one a game-tying bomb (7/2 vs. SYR)…
The 31-year-old has now reached base safely in his last 14 games (15-44; .341-5-16, 5 2B, 13 BB,
8 R) — ranking tied for 1st in the IL in BB (13), second in OPS (1.295) and third in OBP (.500) and
during the span [6/19-].. After starting slowly at .186-3-7 in his first 28 games, Plouffe has posted a
slash-line of .283/.411/.606 for a 1.017 OPS over his last 31 contests since May 29 — batting .283-8-24
(28-99, 8 2B, 22 BB, 15 R)… He’s hit 11 HR in his last 118 AB (38 G) after 0 HR in his first 67 AB (19 G).
• In nine games against ROC, the former Wing is batting 333-4-8 (9-27, 3 2B, 9 BB; 1.389 OPS).
(Plouffe stats copied from Game Notes, IronPigs Media Services)
IronPigs in the Lead!
On June 3, the Pigs reclaimed sole possession of first place in the North after losing their hold
for two days, and have now held on for 33 straight days and 58 days overall this season… Saturday,
the Pigs lead swelled to a season-high, 6.5 games — tying the franchise record for largest
lead, set on June 8, 2017… Previously, they held sole possession for one day after a win on
Opening Day (4/7) and then for 24 straight days May 8-31… In franchise history, LHV has held
sole possession of first for a total of 230 of 1,598 days.
Joey Meneses in the AAA Home Run Derby
At least, that’s what I’m hearing. We’ll find out if he has any pitchers with him when he makes his way to Columbus next week. Here’s some additional “Joey Jolts” from IronPigs Media:
The IL’s top vote-getting All-Star, 1B Joey Meneses (1-2, RBI) has seven multi-hit efforts in his
last 17 games (21-63; .333-3-11, 6 2B, 7 BB, 8 R) — and leads the team with 26 for the season…
The 26-year-old leads the IL in total bases (153), ranks tied for first in HR (15), third in SLG
(.526), third in RBI (8) and seventh in AVG (.299)… On Monday, Meneses extended his career high
total to 15 HR (291 AB/79 G), which has shattered his prior high of nine set in 2017 w/ MIS
(360 AB/108 G). After not homering in his first 56 AB, he has clubbed 15 HR in his last 235 AB (62 G) since May 2 — which leads the
IL during the span… The former ATL prospect has now hit safely in 23 of his last 30 contests (35-117; .299-6-23, 7 2B, 9 BB, 17 R).
THE RETURN OF THE SP-ESHELMAN:
Although he didn’t figure in the decision Tuesday, RHP Tom Eshelman (N/D, 7.0 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 7 K) turned in his first Quality Start
in his last seven outting since May 23. Over his last four starts, the 24-year-old has pitched to the tune of a 2.78 ERA (0-1; 22.2 IP, 7
ER) — taking a shutout into the fifth inning of three of these appearances — while lowering his ERA from 7.74 (6/12)… Still, the IL’s
starting pitcher in the 2017 Triple-A All-Start Game remains winless in his last 14 starts (0-6, 6.44) — the longest drought of his career.
• The outing by Eshelman was clutch, as LHV’s five starters had posted a 6.40 ERA (25.1/18) over the last spin thru the rotation.
(more of “Kram copies the game notes”)
See you at the park,
Bonus: Here’s your lineup card for tonight: 7-6 vs ROC