With a few weeks left in the 2016 Pacific Coast League season, the Memphis Redbirds (53-58) sit in third place (0.1 percentage points behind second place Round Rock) in the American Southern Division after finishing Week 17 3-4.
The offense, led by David Washington, has been solid recently, but the starting rotation has struggled to perform. Deck McGuire was assigned to Double-A Springfield due to recent struggles, Alex Reyes hasn’t won a game since June 13 and Jeremy Hefner is struggling to fit back in the rotation since his return from injury (nine earned runs on eight hits and eight walks in his last two starts).
Here is how the week unfolded:
Friday, July 29: Oklahoma City (LAD) 9 at Memphis (STL) 3
Memphis finished its eight-game homestand at 4-4 following a 9-3 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Dodgers following a 1:35 rain delay.
David Washington (2-for-4) hit a homer, a double and drove in two, and has taken one over the fence in three of the last five games. Efren Navarro also went 2-for-4 a day after his 11-game hit streak ended.
Starter Mike Mayers (3-4, 3.47) allowed five earned on six hits in five innings in his first start back since his St. Louis debut the prior Sunday night. Reliever John Brebbia gave up four scores in 1 1/3 innings, but Corey Littrell and Juan Gonzalez pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Saturday, July 30: Memphis (STL) 7 at Round Rock (TEX) 13
Memphis scored six runs in its final four at bats but it was too little, too late, as the pitching had allowed 13 runs (including six in the third inning) to drop Game 1 at Round Rock.
Anthony Garcia (2-for-4) and Jose Martinez (1-for-4) each homered, and Breyvic Valera (3-for-4) produced three hits. Martinez and Alex Mejia (1-for-4) plated two runners apiece. Michael Ohlman (2-for-4) added a double and an RBI.
Starter Deck McGuire (6-9, 5.55) fanned three in the first three innings, but was pulled after 2 2/3 innings, allowing six earned in the third. Reliever Thomas Lee gave up four earned on five hits in three innings, and Sam Tuivailala allowed two more to come home in one inning.
Sunday, July 31: Memphis (STL) 4 at Round Rock (TEX) 2
Washington (3-for-4) homered for the fourth time in the past seven games and added three RBI, and the pitching staff allowed three hits to take Game 2 from Round Rock, 4-2.
With the home run, Washington leads the Redbirds with 21 and the Cards’ organization with 26. Navarro (2-for-5) and Carson Kelly (2-for-4) had multi hit games, with Navarro plating Memphis’ fourth runner.
Starter Arturo Reyes (7-4, 4.89) gave up one earned run on one hit and struck out four in five innings. Since returning from injury, Reyes has worked 10 innings and allowed two earned on four hits.
John Brebbia scattered two hits and gave up Round Rock’s final run, a solo shot, in the sixth inning. Miguel Socolovich fanned four and allowed no hits in two scoreless innings, before Tuivailala picked up his 15th save of the season.
Monday, August 1: Memphis (STL) 3 at Round Rock (TEX) 5
Memphis produced 10 hits but dropped Game 3, 5-3, to Round Rock after going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Harrison Bader (2-for-4) doubled and scored twice. Martinez, Navarro, Washington and Valera had two hits each, and Martinez and Kelly (0-for-4) plated one runner apiece.
Starter Alex Reyes (2-3, 5.31) absorbed his third loss of the season after scattering six and allowing four earned in 4 1/3 innings. Reyes, who fanned six and walked three, hasn’t won since June 13. Relievers Kurt Heyer and Littrell combined to give up three hits and one earned run in 3 2/3 innings.
Tuesday, August 2: Memphis (STL) 8 at Round Rock (TEX) 7
Memphis gave up the tying run in the ninth, but Matt Williams’ (2-for-5) single to center brought home the game-winning run in the 10th to earn a split of the series at Round Rock.
Williams’ two hits both drove in go-ahead runs. Kelly (2-for-3) scored twice and added three RBI. Valera (1-for-4) finished with two RBI.
Starter Jeremy Hefner allowed four earned runs on two hits after two innings, but kept his composure and gave up just one earned and two hits over the next 4 2/3 innings.
Ryan Sherriff, Socolovich, Tuivailala (3-2, 5.58) and Littrell combined to give up just three hits and two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings while fanning nine and issuing two walks. Tuivailala picked up his third win of the season after blowing his fifth save, and Littrell earned his first save of the season after throwing a perfect 10th inning.
Wednesday, August 3: Omaha (KC) 6 at Memphis (STL) 4 (10 innings)
With the game tied 2-2 in the 10th, the Storm Chasers hit a two-out grand slam for a four-run lead and an eventual 6-4 win at Memphis.
Garcia (3-for-5) followed with a two-run shot with two out in the home 10th to give Memphis a chance, and is hitting .410 with five homers since his return from Double-A Springfield. Grichuk (3-for-5) homered in his first game after being optioned from St. Louis. Williams (2-for-4) plated a runner in the second.
Starter Mayers struck out a season-high eight batters in 4 2/3 innings, and gave up one earned on four hits. Gonzalez pitched a perfect ninth inning, but walked three in the tenth before giving up the eventual game-winning grand slam.
Thursday, August 4: Omaha (KC) 2 at Memphis (STL) 3
Memphis used a three-run sixth inning to take the lead and the eventual win, 3-2, over the visiting Storm Chasers.
Washington (1-for-3) hit a two-run shot in the sixth, extending his team lead to 22 home runs and organization lead to 27. Grichuk (2-for-3), Kelly (2-for-4) and Valera (2-for-3) each had multi hit games, while Washington and Valera plated Memphis’ three runs.
Starter Kurt Heyer started in place of demoted Deck McGuire, scattering five hits, allowing one earned run and striking out two in 4 1/3 innings. John Brebbia (2-2, 6.75) followed and picked up his second win of the season, fanning two and giving up one earned on two hits. Tuivailala came on in the ninth and pitched a perfect inning to earn his team-leading 16th save of the season.
David Washington went 8-for-23 (.348) with three HR and seven RBI, has homered in four of his last seven games and leads the team (22) and Cards’ organization (27) in the category.
Breyvic Valera was Memphis’ best hitter for average this week, going 9-for-22 (.409) including one double, one triple and three RBI.
Anthony Garcia went 6-for-20 (.300) with two HR and three RBI and has homered five times in 14 games since his return from Double-A Springfield.
Carson Kelly was 6-for-19 (.316) with one double and four RBI this week and has batted .309 since his call up from Springfield.
Although appearing in only two games, Randal Grichuk was a difference-maker at the plate, hitting 5-for-8 with one HR, one RBI and one double.
Arturo Reyes has been excellent since returning from injury and picked up his second consecutive win this week with a four walk, four strikeout, one earned run on one hit performance in five innings July 31 at Round Rock.
Kurt Heyer combined for two strikeouts, one earned run and seven hits in six innings, including one start August 4 vs. Omaha.
Miguel Socolovich pitched five scoreless innings of relief duty in three games this week, fanning nine batters in the process.
Corey Littrell combined for five strikeouts, four walks and one earned on one hit in 4 1/3 innings in relief over three games.
Harrison Bader was 4-for-26 (.154) with on double and three RBI and struggled to produce on a consistent basis in the leadoff spot.
Jose Martinez was quiet at the plate, going 3-for-23 (.130) with one HR and three RBI.
Alex Mejia went 3-for-18 (.167) with two RBI in five games in Week 17.
Matt Williams was 4-for-22 (.182) with three RBI in six appearances.
While Arturo Reyes has been great since rehab, Jeremy Hefner has struggled out of the gate, giving up five earned runs on four hits and issuing five walks in 5 2/3 innings of a no-decision this week August 2 at Round Rock.
Alex Reyes’ performances have tapered off recently with the starter picking up his third loss of the season after giving up four earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings August 1 at Round Rock.
The St. Louis Cardinals acquired LHP Zach Duke from the Chicago White prior to the non-waiver trade deadline July 31 in exchange for OF Charlie Tilson.
With the Redbirds, Tilson slashed .282/.345/.407 with four HR and 34 RBI, and led the team in triples (8) and stolen bases (15). Though he led the team in bases swiped, his total paled in comparison to his Texas League-best 46 in 2015, even as his success rate was much better (83 percent in Memphis; 41 percent in Springfield). After his call up to the White Sox, Tilson suffered a season-ending torn hamstring in his MLB debut.
As for his replacement, Harrison Bader was placed in the leadoff spot for a majority of this week’s games, while Randal Grichuk took over in center field after being optioned down August 2.
LHP Dean Kiekhefer was optioned to Memphis but almost immediately recalled back to St. Louis after LHP Tyler Lyons was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee stress reaction. Kiekhefer is 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 23 relief appearances in Memphis this season.
OF Randal Grichuk, who has split time between St. Louis and Memphis, was optioned to Memphis with the return of 1B/OF Brandon Moss. Grichuk is hitting .328/.344/.689 with six HR and 16 RBI in 17 games with Memphis in 2016.
RHP Deck McGuire was assigned to Double-A Springfield after struggling in recent games for Memphis. The starter (6-9, 5.55) hadn’t won a game since June 17, and has gone 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA since then. The Cardinals have not yet officially promoted his replacement, Luke Weaver, but are expected to do so by Sunday.
Here are all of the transactions that occurred this past week:
08/02/2016: St. Louis Cardinals option LHP Dean Kiekhefer to Memphis Redbirds.
08/02/2016: St. Louis Cardinals option OF Randal Grichuk to Memphis Redbirds.
08/03/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall LHP Dean Kiekhefer from Memphis Redbirds.
08/03/2016: RHP Deck McGuire assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.
TCN Top 40 Prospects
The Redbirds have 12 of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 40 Prospects on the roster, including two starters and a position player on the disabled list. Here is how the prospects have performed recently:
1. Alex Reyes: Reyes appeared in one game this week, striking out six, walking three and allowing four earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings and picked up his third loss of the season. TCN’s top prospect has struggled since the All-Star break, going 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in four starts, but the starter still leads the team in strikeouts (85).
3. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the start of 2016, ending his season.
5. Tim Cooney: Cooney underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a Bennett lesion (calcium build-up in the shoulder). The lefty has been sidelined since Spring Training with discomfort in his shoulder.
6. Harrison Bader: Bader appeared in every game this week, going 4-for-26 with a double and three RBI. The outfielder is hitting .271/.354/.388 with one HR and nine RBI in 26 games for Memphis.
11. Sam Tuivailala: Tuivailala pitched in four games this week, going 2-for-3 in save opportunities and picking up a win August 2 at Round Rock. The reliever combined for six strikeouts, three earned runs on four hits in four innings. Memphis’ primary closer leads the team in saves (16), and is third in the league in the category, but he has also blown five saves.
12. Carson Kelly: Kelly appeared in five games behind the plate in Week 17, going 6-for-19 with one double and four RBI. The catcher has been a reliable option for Memphis since debuting July 14, slashing .309/.350/.418 with six doubles and six RBI in 14 games, while splitting time with fellow top-40 prospect Michael Ohlman.
25. Mike Mayers: Mayers found trouble in his first trip to the Redbirds mound since his MLB debut July 24, tossing five innings and giving up five earned runs on six hits in a loss. However, the starter rebounded from that loss and struck out a season-high eight batters August 3 vs. Omaha.
26. Corey Littrell: Littrell pitched 4 1/3 innings over three games during Week 17, fanning five, scattering two hits and allowing one run. The reliever is 1-3 so far this season and is third out of Memphis relievers in ERA (3.61)
31. Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom was placed on the disabled list on June 17. The infielder is hitting .234/.317/.359 with three HR and 21 RBI in 2016.
32. Anthony Garcia: Garcia batted in six games during Week 17, hitting 6-for-20 with two HR and three RBI. The outfielder, who has split time with Double-A Springfield and Memphis this season, has been on a tear since his return from Springfield (five HR and eight RBI in 14 games).
33. Michael Ohlman: Although Ohlman played in just two games, the prospect was productive at the plate, batting 3-for-8 with one double and one RBI. The catcher, who plays second fiddle to Kelly, has been great since returning from Double-A Springfield, going 12-for-37 with two HR, two doubles, one triple and nine RBI in 11 games.
38. David Washington: Washington was excellent in six games during Week 17, going 8-for-23 with three HR and seven RBI. The outfielder/infielder has been Memphis’ top slugger all season, homering in four of his last seven games, and leads the team (22), the Cardinals’ organization (27) and is tied for third in the PCL in the category.
|Offense||Season Stat||PCL Rank|
|BA||.265||Tied for 10th|
|Strikeouts/Walks||843/396||8th/Tied for 3rd|
|Pitching||Season Stat||PCL Rank|
|Round Rock Express||54-59||.478||10|
|New Orleans Zephyrs||51-59||.464||11.5|
After going 3-4 during Week 17 of the 2016 PCL season, the Redbirds (53-58) complete their four-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers (50-61) on Saturday before going on a four-day, five-game road trip to the New Orleans Zephyrs (51-59).
The Redbirds sit 10 games out of the American Southern Division lead and will need to get on a tear to put themselves into playoff contention. The club is currently 1-1 in their home series against Omaha and have Arturo Reyes, who has been terrific since his return from injury, starting Friday night, while David Washington and Anthony Garcia have been on fire.
While the Zephyrs have struggled recently (last in the division and 4-6 over their last 10 games), Miami’s Triple-A affiliate is 1.5 games behind the Redbirds and are 5-5 against Memphis this season. The club’s pitching staff is terrific (4.02 ERA), led by Chris Narveson (4-5, 3.48) and Jose Urena (2-3, 3.53).
After Kurt Heyer’s start Thursday night, Arturo Reyes returns to the mound Friday night vs. Omaha, followed by Alex Reyes, Deck McGuire’s eventual replacement Luke Weaver and Mike Mayers.
Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.
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