Quad Cities Bandits Notebook: 2012 Week 16

An in-depth look into the starting pitching of the St. Louis Cardinals' Midwest League affiliate.

The Quad Cities River Bandits went 4-2 this week in six home games. At 16-14 in the second half, they are currently in a three-way tie for second place with Burlington and Kane County, one game behind Clinton.

This team has been hard to figure out this year. This week, I'm going to comment on each of the starting pitchers in an attempt to show where the strengths and weaknesses lie. The oppressive heat and humidity in the Midwest this week have been both a bane and a blessing to the team.

Sam Gaviglio (5-7) still hasn't shown his true talent. In years past, I have seen teams here that get the idea that when a certain pitcher is in the game, they can't hit. This could be the case with Sam. When he is pitching, it seems that if the team doesn't get several hits in the first couple of innings, they don't get many hits for the entire game. I hope that Sam isn't the victim of this mentality. He starts Wednesday in Clinton and gives his club the chance to get back into first place. We'll see how that goes.

Dail Villanueva (6-5) is a sleeper. He has a low- to mid-nineties arm and good control. He should have ten wins. When he's on the mound you can see the focus on his face and in his posture. Villanueva reminds me somewhat of Kevin Siegrist from last year's team; he's not flashy, just very steady. One point of concern is that he has given up nine home runs - tied for second worst (with Gaviglio) just one behind Paulino.

Hector Hernandez (7-5) is an enigma. Most of his wins are big wins – by more than five runs. His losses are either one-run losses or they are also five or more runs. Hernandez has good control of his pitches most of the time and throws in the mid-nineties. It's hard to figure out why he doesn't have more wins but also why he doesn't have more losses.

Willy Paulino (2-8) came under scrutiny early in the year as a middle reliever. I have not been impressed. I have watched his last two starts especially trying to figure out what is going wrong. In Sunday's game this week, Paulino had a great first inning, faltered a little bit in the second, and then seemed to recover for the next two innings. However, whether it was fatigue or a mental game breakdown, he came apart in the fifth inning and gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning. It seems to me that if Paulino is throwing well, he can maintain good control but as soon as he stumbles, there is no recovery. I think he's better suited for a short relief role.

Tyrell Jenkins (2-3) is as disappointing this year as Seth Blair was last year. It could be that we had our expectations set too high for a 19-year-old (he just turned 20 this week) but he hasn't shown more than a flash of brilliance this year. In his start this week, he gave up six runs in the first inning of Monday's game against Fort Wayne. The six runs were on five hits and three walks. I can see when Jenkins is on the mound that if things aren't going exactly as he wants, he gets frustrated with himself. I understand that this is a maturity issue that will come with time but it's not good this year.

Brad Watson (1-0) just replaced Kyle Hald in the rotation. While he has only had one start, it was impressive. He's a native of Urbandale, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines, and went to school at Wartburg in Waverly, IA, so he had lots of support from friends and family in his debut. Watson did not take a lot of time between pitches and was hitting 92-94 mph this week. He's tall - 6'4" - but Lake County's starter that night was 6'7" so Watson did not look very big on the bump. It's always fun to see a new pitcher do well.

The Bandits had several players on the move this week. Kyle Barraclough (Bear Claw), David Bergin (Bur gun), Brad Watson, and Anthony Melchionda (Mel CHI onda) joined the team as part of an eight-man shuffle. Jeremy Patton became a River Bandit earlier in the week. Colin Walsh has extended his DL stop with a nagging injury to his wrist. Stephen Piscotty took a cleat to the ankle last week and has missed some games with some swelling but has not officially been placed on the DL. The club hopes to have both of them back soon.

This week in Clinton will be three very important games. A good series there could leave the Bandits two games up on the LumberKings. A bad week could be very costly as we go into the last week of July.

As always, I welcome your questions and suggestions on the forum or via private message (sport61201).

Thanks for reading!

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