Long Beach Preview: Pitching

Long Beach is usually among both the conference and national pitching leaders due to having talent on the mound and a very favorable park for pitchers. However, this year the Dirtbags are only 4th in the conf with a 5.11 ERA, 6th with a .294 BA and have allowed 36 HR's, numbers that are all very high by their usual lofty standards.

Long Beach did not pitch well during the first five series that they lost and allowed seven runs per game while going 4-11.  The Dirtbags started to pitch much better during their stretch of five series wins in six series and allowed three runs per game while going 13-5.  The wheels have started to come off in the last seven games, however, and Long Beach has allowed 70 runs while going 1-6.  Long Beach has been getting very good pitching on Friday nights and their bullpen has been pretty reliable but they have struggled with getting consistent outings from their Sat and Sun SP's.

Starters

Fri SP – JR Adam Wilk (LHP – 7-3, 2.77 ERA, 13 apps, 11 starts, 88 IP, 88 H, 18 BB, 54 K, .265 BA, 4 HR) was a middle reliever during his first two seasons (2008 – 0-0, 1.26 ERA, 15 apps, 14 IP) and his role wasn't decided on for the first couple of weeks but once he was moved into the rotation he became the best SP on the team.  Wilk is 3rd in the conf in ERA, 5th in IP, 6th in wins, 8th in K's and 10th in BA.  He has outstanding control and does a good job of changing speeds and keeping the ball down and making batters hit lots of ground balls.  Although he allows a hit per inning, because he does such a good job of keeping the ball down he has allowed only 10 extra base hits.  Wilk has allowed 3 R's in each of his last three starts, has gone at least 7 innings in six of his last seven starts and has not allowed more than 3 R's in any of his last ten starts.  He has allowed baserunners to go 8-13 on SB attempts.  Wilk has allowed 2 R on 4 H in 1 1/3 IP in 3 apps against Fullerton.

Sat SP – Soph Jake Thompson (RHP – 4-6, 5.35 ERA, 13 starts, 77 IP, 91 H, 12 BB, 39 K, .294 BA, 7 HR) is the only SP back from last season (2008 – 2-5, 4.95 ERA, 13 starts, 67 IP, 90 H, 21 BB, 42 K) but he struggled with some health related issues in the middle of the season and has not been able to develop any consistency and is tied for 3rd in the conf in losses.     Thompson has a low 90's fastball and very good control but he doesn't miss too many bats and has had trouble keeping the ball down, resulting in too many extra base hits (20 2B's, 7 HR's).  He pitched well in his three starts against Northridge (6 1/3 IP, 2 R), Pacific (7 IP, 3 R) and Davis (7 2/3 IP, 2 R) but didn't make it out of the 3rd inning the last two weeks against UCSB (3 IP, 7 H, 5 R) and Cal Poly (2 1/3 IP, 6 R, 6 H).  Thompson does a good job of holding runners and has only allowed 3-6 SB's.  He allowed 5 R on 7 H in 3 IP in his start against Fullerton last season.

Sun SP – FR Andrew Gagnon (RHP – 3-6, 6.17 ERA, 12 starts, 70 IP, 91 H, 20 BB, 41 K, .323 BA, 5 HR) is a talented pitcher with a low 90's fastball who was drafted in the 10th round last June but has also had trouble with being consistent and is tied for 3rd in the conf in losses.  Much like Thompson, he pitched well in his three starts against the three bottom teams in the conf (Northridge, Davis, Pacific) when he allowed 8 R on 20 H in 17 IP but struggled against the three of the better teams in the conf (Irvine, UCSB, Cal Poly) when he allowed 19 R on 25 H in 14 IP.  Gagnon has good control but also like Thompson has been around the plate too much and has not missing too many bats and has been getting his pitches up and allowing extra base hits.  He has allowed baserunners to go 8-12 on SB attempts.

Relievers

The closer is JC transfer Charlie Ruiz (RHP – 2-2, 3.75 ERA, 11 saves, 26 apps, 24 IP, 20 H, 12 BB, 41 K, .217 BA, 1 HR), who has done an outstanding job and is 2nd in the conf in saves and 5th in appearances.  He has a low 90's fastball and a good slider and has an excellent K/IP ratio although he has been a little wild and leads the conf with 11 WP's despite only throwing 24 innings due to the movement on his slider.  Ruiz will usually only throw one inning and rarely goes beyond that.  He has only allowed 3 ER in 11 apps in conf games and they all came in a blown save in the final game of the UCSB series. 

Long Beach has a pretty deep bullpen after Ruiz and they will using quite a few arms during the weekends, especially on Sat's and Sun's.  The middle relievers most likely to see action this weekend are SR David Born (LHP – 2-0, 2.89 ERA, 28 apps, 19 IP, 12 H, 12 BB, 20 K, .185 BA, 1 HR), SR Dustin Rasco (RHP – 0-2, 4.32 ERA, 1 save, 27 apps, 25 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 28 K, .232 BA, 4 HR), SR Anthony Carrillo (RHP – 0-0, 3.15 ERA, 14 apps, 20 IP, 23 H, 5 BB, 12 K, .291 BA, 0 HR) and FR Josh Corrales (RHP – 1-2, 6.64 ERA, 1 save, 16 apps, 20 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 11 K, .325 BA, 0 HR).  Born and Rasco have both been tough to hit, don't usually pitch much more than an inning and would be most likely to be brought into games in the 7th and 8th innings if Long Beach has a lead.  Born leads the conf in appearances and Rasco is 3rd.  Rasco has allowed 0 R on 3 H in 2 2/3 IP in three apps in his career against Fullerton.  Carrillo and Corrales would be most likely to be brought into the game earlier and pitch multiple innings.

Other relievers who are available for Long Beach are midweek SP JC transfer Jeff Lease (LHP – 2-2, 6.98 ERA, 11 apps, 6 starts, 30 IP, 48 H, 12 BB, 25 K, .381 BA, 7 HR), JR Jason Markovitz (LHP – 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 17 apps, 18 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 13 K, .318 BA, 1 HR), JR David Brown (RHP – 2-0, 5.68 ERA, 14 apps, 19 IP, 25 H, 10 BB, 10 K, .333 BA, 3 HR) and SR Tyler Topp (RHP – 0-1, 9.90 ERA, 12 apps, 20 IP, 42 H, 5 BB, 13 K, .429 BA, 1 HR).  Topp was expected to contend for a weekend SP role after being a solid middle reliever last season (2008 – 2-2, 3.65 ERA, 12 apps, 37 IP, 38 H, 9 BB, 34 K) but has had a miserable season.  He threw three scoreless innings in his only appearance against Fullerton last season.