Photo by Mike Strasinger/Nashville Sounds

Nashville Sounds Notebook: Stronghold on first place

Going into Tuesday night's action, the Nashville Sounds hold a nine-game lead in the American South Division and look well positioned for a trip to the post-season. We check-in with the Oakland A's Triple-A club.

Overview

After a slow start to the season, the Nashville Sounds have been one of the Pacific Coast League’s premier clubs. The Sounds currently have the second-most wins in the league and carry a nine game lead over second-place Round Rock in the American Southern Division. Nashville has been particularly good on the road, with a 39-20 record away from First Tennessee Park. Overall, the Sounds are 70-53 going into Tuesday night’s home game versus Tacoma.

The Sounds have featured a young squad all season and play in a pitcher’s park, so it is no surprise to see them in the lower-half of the league in team offense. With a 748 team OPS, the Sounds are ninth out of 16 teams in that category. Nashville has made the most of its opportunities when runners have been on-base, however, as they are third in the league in runs scored. The Sounds are fourth in doubles, third in homers and sixth in slugging. Nashville is third-to-last in OBP (.327) and eighth in walks, however.

Nashville has dominated on the mound. Their team ERA of 3.40 is .42 lower than the second-place team. The Sounds have allowed the fewest hits and the fewest homeruns. Nashville has also walked the fourth-fewest in the league and has the league’s lowest WHIP (1.24). The Nashville staff is fourth in the league in strike-outs.

The Sounds finish a seven-game homestand with four versus the Tacoma Rainiers starting on Tuesday night. Nashville then travels to Omaha to begin an eight-game roadtrip.

Comings and Goings

With the Oakland A’s 25-man roster in flux, the transaction wire has been busy for the Sounds. On August 1, the Sounds welcomed right-hander Jharel Cotton, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the deal that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to LA. Frankie Montas, who was also acquired in that deal, was added to the Nashville disabled list on August 1. He is dealing with a rib issue that is likely to keep him out the rest of the year.

On August 2, the A’s sent reliever J.B. Wendelken back to Nashville and replaced him in Oakland with utilityman Tyler Ladendorf. A few days later, the A’s promoted right-hander Jesse Hahn to the rotation. Hahn landed on the A’s DL after just one start, but he is rehabbing with the Sounds on Tuesday and is expected to return to the A’s rotation this weekend. Brett Eibner and Andrew Triggs made their way to Oakland the next day. Eibner was acquired in late July from the Kansas City Royals for Billy Burns and had only a short stay with Nashville. Triggs had actually been optioned the day before his recall, but he was quickly brought back to Oakland when Hahn landed on the DL.

On August 6, Dillon Overton returned to Nashville after struggling in his third stint in the A’s rotation. Patrick Schuster replaced Overton on the A’s roster. He was designated for assignment the next week and claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Nashville rotation continued to shift on August 7 and August 10, when the Sounds lost starters Chris Smith and Ross Detwiler to promotions to Oakland. On August 8, reliever Bobby Wahl and infielder Josh Rodriguez were promoted to Nashville from Double-A Midland.

On Tuesday, the A’s promoted 2014 first-round pick Matt Chapman to Nashville from Midland. Chapman arrives with 29 homeruns this season, tops in the A’s minor league system. For more on his promotion, click here.

Who’s Hot 

Jharel Cotton has made a strong first impression on his new organization. In his first three starts for Nashville, the right-hander has allowed four runs in 20.1 innings. He has struck-out 21 and walked only three. Cotton’s second start for Nashville was one for the memory banks. He came within one out of a perfect game before finishing off the impressive shutout of Round Rock. Cotton leads the Pacific Coast League in strike-outs (140 in 118 innings) and WHIP (1.07). He should get a look in Oakland before year’s end. 

Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who joined the Sounds on July 22nd from Midland, has been equally impressive. In his first 30.2 innings in Triple-A, Alcantara has allowed just three runs (two earned) on 20 hits and three walks. He has 22 strike-outs and a .187 BAA. Alcantara is in his first full season after 2014 Tommy John surgery and is at 120.2 innings, so he may not have many more innings left in his tank this year.

After a couple of rough starts with the A’s, Daniel Mengden was sent down to Triple-A for a breather and to get back on-track. The A’s have limited Mengden’s innings since he returned to Nashville, but he has been effective in three starts. In 15 innings, he has allowed just two runs on 12 hits and four walks. Mengden has 13 strike-outs. Between the minors and the majors, Mengden is at 132 innings this season, a career-high.

Renato Nunez had a rough June and July, but he has been scorching hot in August. In 13 games, he has a .352/.386/.667 line with four homers and five doubles. Nunez leads the Sounds with 21 homers and he has hit at least 18 homeruns in every season since 2013.

Jaycob Brugman has been steady all season for Midland and Nashville, but he did slump a bit in July. He has been back on track in August, batting .339/.381/.411. He currently has a 775 OPS with the Sounds – and he had a 775 OPS in 38 games with Midland earlier in the year.

After a rough start to the season, Joey Wendle has gotten his bat back on-track over the past two months. He is batting .303 with an 875 OPS since the All-Star break and he has already eclipsed his homer total from last season (he has 11 after hitting 10 last year). With Jed Lowrie out for the year with a foot injury, Wendle is a strong candidate to play in Oakland this September.

Chad Pinder had a 10-game hitting streak come to an end on Monday, but he may have played his last game with the Sounds, as he is reportedly being called up to Oakland on Wednesday. Pinder is batting .261 in the second half and .258/.310/.425 with 14 homers on the season. The 14 homers are one short of his career-high, which he established last year with Midland.


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