As much as we want to see an entire’s season worth of data to judge a pitcher’s performance, so much of how a pitcher does is based on streaks, some good and some bad. Every pitcher sees their performance fluctuate upwards and downwards over the course of a season, and the good ones make the hot streaks last longer while making sure the tough performances don’t carry over into the following games. At least for a few starts, Jake Odorizzi hit a wall at Triple-A. But now he’s gotten back on track and the question is how long he can make it last. Odorizzi was one of several pitchers wondering what would happen to their recent trends as they took the mound on Sunday.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Columbus Clippers (CLE) 1
Jake Odorizzi looked as good as he has in a month and Jason Bourgeois came up with 2 big RBIs as the Bulls beat the Clippers 2-1. Odorizzi went 7 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. Even his recent dip in performance hasn’t taken the luster off of Odorizzi’s huge season as he has gone 8-4 with a 3.38 ERA, a 96-33 strikeout to walk ratio, and 8 homers allowed (0.8 HR/9) in 17 starts and 96 innings pitched. Danny Salazar was excellent on the other end for Columbus, striking out 11 as he allowed just 3 hits and 1 walk in 5 shutout innings, but Odorizzi’s length proved key as the Bulls tagged the Columbus bullpen for 4 runs. Jason Bourgeois went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, Ryan Roberts went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Tim Beckham went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Roberts has basically repeated his major league numbers at Triple-A, managing a .705 OPS overall with a .906 mark against lefties and a .624 mark against righties. He may be a platoon player, but he’s a major league platoon player, you have to wonder whether a team will consider acquiring him over the next month (considering he’s at Triple-A, placing him on trade waivers should not be an issue once July 31st passes). Can’t finish recapping this game without talking about Kirby Yates, who tossed 1.1 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts for the save, lowering his ERA to 1.29 in the process. Could we see the Rays use him as a bullpen weapon in September?
Double-A Southern League: Mississippi Braves 12, Montgomery Biscuits 6
Jake Floethe got off to a hot start at Double-A but had his share of struggles in his last three starts, allowing 4 runs in each start. His start versus Mississippi, though, took his frustration to a whole other level, it was not entirely his fault. Floethe went 4.2 innings allowing 8 runs, 5 earned, on 12 hits, striking out just 2 while walking 5. But here was the issue: his groundout to flyout ratio on the day was actually an outstanding 9-0, and 7 of his 12 hits came on groundballs. That’s before we even get to the two big werrors made behind him. Floethe’s control certainly wasn’t great, but he was keeping the ball down and certainly deserves better. If Floethe can keep commanding the ball like he did in this start, maybe he can finally turn his performance around. On the offensive side, Hector Guevara went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored while Robi Estrada went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 RBI.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 8, Tampa Yankees 2
Jacob Partridge entered his start on Sunday with an ERA of just 4.72. But recent strong performances earned him the opportunity to start some games for the Stone Crabs, and his performances in those games must have opened some eyes. Partridge delivered a solid start before Lenny Linsky and the Charlotte offense took the team to the promised last as they beat Tampa 8-2. Partridge went 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Those certainly aren’t the flashiest numbers, but Partridge has just a 55-45 strikeout to walk ratio on the season, and a few games with a 2-1 K-BB mark is a good place to start as he hopes to fix that. Lenny Linsky followed with the type of relief work the Rays have been waiting to see from him for two years, going 3.2 shutout innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 3. He forced a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Linsky, a second round pick by the Rays in 2011, was supposed to move quickly through the minor leagues with a power sinker-slider combination before a shoulder injury set him off course, but Sunday saw him use his two pitches to perfection. Linsky hasn’t allowed a run across 12 innings in his last 4 appearances as the breakthrough the Rays have been waiting for may finally be happening.
The Stone Crabs’ 8 runs came on a complete team effort, with four players registering multi-hit games, two slamming big home runs, and each Stone Crab reaching base. Richie Shaffer went 2 for 5 with a 2-run homer, Alejandro Segovia slammed a 3-run shot, Kes Carter went 2 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Drew Vettleson and Ryan Brett both went 2 for 5 with an RBI, with Brett adding a double and 2 runs scored. Segovia is no longer a catcher so his offense doesn’t stand out nearly as much, but he’s had a very nice season at the plate, managing a .283/.372/.473 line with 15 doubles, 13 homers, 42 RBI, and a 49-32 strikeout to walk ratio in 327 plate appearances.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 7, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 1
Jordan Harrison‘s start against the Lugnuts marked his 4th start for the Hot Rods this season after 5 relief appearances. And in the game, he pitched well but continued a bizarre stretch that makes you wonder where his future will lie. Harrison went 5 shutout innings but didn’t do so without working around several jams as he allowed 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out just 4. But Harrison managed an 8-2 groundout to flyout ratio to help keep Lansing at bay. In four starts, Harrison has pitched well, putting up a 3.22 ERA, but he has managed just a 20-12 strikeout to walk ratio and a 1.27 groundout to airout ratio in 19 innings pitched. Out of the bullpen, meanwhile, he put up a 1.86 ERA, an 11-2 K-BB ratio, and a 5.00 GO/AO in 9.2 innings pitched. Obviously it’s easier to start than relieve and the sample size is pretty small, but are we buying into more than Harrison has been solid as a starting pitcher and that he has deteriorated significantly from where he was as a reliever? As long as Harrison has pitched well, he will keep starting, and it will be interesting to see whether he proves enough that the Rays keep him starting games in coming seasons.
In terms of Harrison’s run support, Marty Gantt had a huge game, going 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 4 RBI, and Andrew Toles went 4 for 5 with a double and a run scored, Tommy Coyle went 2 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Justin O’Conner went 2 for 5 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Toles is red-hit at the plate, hitting .357 in his last 10 games, but he’s also had a rough time on the basepaths, going just 3 for 6 in stolen base attempts and getting picked off twice in this game. Toles already has 47 stolen bases on the season and has plenty of speed, but he is going to need refinement as he hopes to harness his speed into more efficient basestealing moving forward.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 2
Kevin Brandt has a really impressive streak going: in his last 7 appearances for the Renegades, he has managed a 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and he has been 3-to-1 or better in 6 of 7 games. But strikeouts and walks aren’t everything as proven by Brandt’s loss in this game. Brandt had his second-to-worst game of the season but a lot of pitchers would call it a nice game as he went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. His ERA went up to 2.37 in the game, but he improved his strikeout to walk ratio to 41-9 in 38 innings pitched. Brandt, a lefty, has bizarrely been much better against righties than lefties, managing a 36-2 K-BB mark compared to just 5-7, with maybe his changeup working better than his slider being a reason for that, but nevertheless the lefty is turning a few heads with his performance. Unfortunately he was the only one doing anything like that for the Renegades in this game. John Alexander did go 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored in the loss.