Dailyn Martinez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Insider news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period August 16-22

Aside from two games this week, Peoria had a dismal week at the dish. The offense failed their starting pitchers multiple times as the Chiefs scored just six runs over their five losses. The pitchers held their opponents to four or fewer runs five times, led by Dailyn Martinez.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 9: Peoria Chiefs 10 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 1 – Game 1 (7)

Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 7 – Game 2 (7)

Jake Woodford toed the rubber and provided a productive start in Game 1. The 19-year-old pounded the zone for five innings, holding Cedar Rapids scoreless on only four hits. While Woodford had a weak fastball, he was able to locate it well all over the zone while mixing in his curveball and changeup routinely.

Woodford induced a plethora of groundballs and the righty had plenty of help from his infield to keep Cedar Rapids off the board. The righty only had two strikeouts and walked one, so the Peoria defense was kept active.

The Chiefs featured a strong lineup, including a top three of Magneuris Sierra, Jose Martinez and Eliezer Alvarez. The trio combined for five hits as they scored five runs and drove in one.

http://www.scout.com/player/188897-chris-chinea?s=321

The strong lineup continued with Brian O’Keefe, Chris Chinea and Leobaldo Pina. O’Keefe drove in a run in three at-bats while Pina blasted a two-run home run that plated Chinea in the first. O’Keefe finished with a walk and a hit while Chinea was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Pina had a pair of hits in four appearances with three driven in.

Game 2 followed a similar script, but Peoria came out on the other side of it. Though Peoria got on the board in the second thanks to an RBI-triple from Carlos Torres, who finished 2-for-4, the scoring would be scarce throughout.

Peoria only earned six hits in the nightcap, and though three were for extra bases, the Chiefs could not bring those runners home. Their futility was punctuated by a double play in the fifth, marking their 100th GIDP of the season.

Ronnie Williams started off well, dominating Cedar Rapids for three innings. The righty had only allowed two hits and one walk through three with five punch-outs thanks to an electric fastball and a sharp curve.

The tables turned in innings four and five when Williams lost control of his heater. The Florida native allowed a two-run bomb in the fourth on a belt-high fastball and continued to give up three runs an inning later on a triple to dead center and a wild pitch.

Williams was finished at 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on five hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.

 

Wednesday, August 10: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 4

After creating a troubling habit of alternating hot and cold starts, Dailyn Martinez finally bucked the trend in a positive way. The righty had decent stuff with a high-80’s tailing fastball and an effective curve and changeup. He got out of multiple jams with limited damage and worked deep into the game.

However, the righty had control issues, dishing out multiple wild pitches and leaving his fastball over the heart of the plate a few too many times. The Dominican was hit hard at times, but he ultimately provided a quality performance.

Martinez finished his evening after 7 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

The 23-year-old had no help because the Chiefs’ offensive woes from Tuesday trickled into Wednesday. Through six innings, Peoria had only five base runners total on four hits and had struck out six times.

The tables seemed to turn in the eighth when Jose Godoy knocked a single to left to plate Sierra and move Martinez to third with no outs. However, Cedar Rapids set down three straight Chiefs to escape the danger.

Peoria ended with only six hits, two of which came from Godoy in four at-bats.  

 

Thursday, August 11: Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 2

Though Jorge Rodriguez did not have a lock down start, the tall right -hander provided a workmanlike performance. Rodriguez had command of four pitches, especially his fastball and changeup. The 21-year-old mixed in a slider and sweeping curve, leaving Kernels hitters off balance and inducing weak contact.

For 4 2/3 innings, Rodriguez delivered strike after strike and limited Cedar Rapids to only a pair of unearned runs. The righty allowed four hits, two walks and four strikeouts and threw 63 of his 91 pitches for strikes.  

Davis Ward and Tyler Bray held the Kernels scoreless for the remainder of the contest, combining to allow a pair of hits and striking out five.

The Chiefs had a horrible time plating runners in scoring position. Peoria had runners on second and third in three of the first four innings but only scored once - on a Dennard RBI ground out.

Entering the ninth, Peoria had only five hits and was down 2-1. Fortunately, Cedar Rapids gift-wrapped the game by walking the first two batters, followed by a Craig Aikin bunt single coupled with a throwing error. Sierra walked it off one pitch later with a single.

Sierra was 1-for-5 with an RBI while Aikin had a pair of hits in four at-bats.

 

Friday, August 12: Peoria Chiefs 1 at Clinton LumberKings 2

Peoria’s offense continued sputter on Friday as they were held to only four hits. Brian O’Keefe carried nearly all of the load, blasting a solo-shot in the fourth and adding a double later on as he finished 2-for-4. The home run was O’Keefe’s 11th of the year.

http://www.scout.com/player/189832-brian-o-keefe?s=321

Aside from O’Keefe’s great day at the plate, only Torres and Aikin would earn a base knock. Alvarez was the only other Chief to reach base via walk. Clinton absolutely dominated Peoria, striking out 10 Peoria hitters.

The brutal offensive showing overshadowed the quality start from John Kilichowski. The lefty rebounded from his last start by going six strong innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits and no walks. The Vanderbilt alum struck out six as he kept Clinton hitters off-balance with his fastball-changeup mix, which proved to be the only two pitches he would need.

The Chiefs were tied with Clinton until the eighth until Josh Wirsu allowed the go-ahead run on three consecutive singles. Wirsu had already thrown one scoreless relief inning, but the righty was unable to hold Clinton for another.    

 

Saturday, August 13: Peoria Chiefs 1 at Clinton LumberKings 5

A solid start from a Peoria starting pitcher was once again foiled by the bullpen. Ryan Helsley only threw four innings to start the game, but he was effective, holding Clinton scoreless on four hits and no walks. The righty struck out two as well.

Helsley was pulled after an efficient 47 pitches in favor of Harley Holt. Holt kept Clinton in check in the fifth before yielding three runs in the sixth. Holt hit a batter, allowed a couple of singles and threw a wild pitch to bring in all three runs.

Nick Frey also allowed a pair of runs in the eighth on a two-run home run, but those runs were moot considering the plight of Peoria’s offense. Once again, the Chiefs were held to one run.

Peoria had more opportunities to score on Saturday as they earned eight hits, but was a brutal 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The only run came on a Josh Swirchak sacrifice fly in the fifth, which drove home Aikin, who had tripled.

Alvarez had three hits in four at-bats, including a double, to raise his average to .316.

 

Sunday, August 14: Peoria Chiefs 1 at Clinton LumberKings 2

The nightmare series for the Chiefs finally concluded on Sunday with another one-run effort from the offense. The offensive showing was their worst on the weekend as only O’Keefe and Jose Godoy earned base hits.

Peoria luckily scored because Clinton issued five walks, including one to Alvarez. Godoy knocked a single with Alvarez on second, plating the speedy second baseman.

The run was the only bright spot for Chiefs hitters. Peoria struck out 10 times, including a three-strikeout performance from Carlos Torres.

Ronnie Williams started for Peoria and pitched well despite the utter lack of run support. The Florida native had control issues, dishing six walks and allowing four hits, but the only two major mistakes came from a pair of solo shots.

Those two runs would be all that Williams would surrender, though. The righty struck out seven and routinely worked out of trouble. After going six strong innings, Williams was issued the tough luck loss, his second with Peoria.

 

Monday, August 15: Peoria Chiefs 7 at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 8 (10)

The Chiefs mounted a clutch comeback in the final three innings only to fall in the 10th inning at Wisconsin. A sacrifice fly in the seventh, a Dennard triple in the eighth and a Sierra inside the park home run in the ninth tied the game and took it to extras.

However, Tyler Bray was unable to hold Wisconsin scoreless in the 10th frame. The righty got two outs in the inning, but allowed a single with runners on second and third to score the walkoff run.

The Chiefs needed a comeback because starter Jake Woodford had an abysmal start. The righty has had deteriorated stuff for a while, but it finally bit him in Monday’s start. Woodford lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and one walk. While Woodford struck out seven, he was consistently hit hard and removed early.

Peoria scored early thanks to an O’Keefe home run, his 12th, and a pair of runs in the third. Their late comeback tied the game, especially because of Sierra’s two-run inside the park home run.

Sierra was 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and runs scored while Alvarez and Godoy each knocked a pair of hits.

                                                           

Questionable Depth Chart

For the entire second half of the season, Peoria has undergone a major facelift to the roster. Four of the six core starting pitchers have been moved to Palm Beach and many of the outfielders from the first half have followed suit. The Chiefs now have various State College players starting every day. This was to be expected, and Peoria has acted accordingly and given their best to win with what they have.

The problem is, they do not really have much. Until Monday, Peoria only had 24 roster slots filled, which left a desperate opening for another position player. Further, the Chiefs only have three outfielders, two of which are hitting below .240. Peoria also suits up three catchers in Chinea, Godoy and O’Keefe. While they all hit well, there is rarely a time they can all fit in the lineup. O’Keefe and Godoy are tied to catching and cannot do anything else but play DH. Chinea can play first base, but Dennard, who gets most first base reps, blocks the LSU alum.

On a nightly basis, this creates a huge issue for manager Joe Kruzel. The skipper is forced to routinely leave impactful hitters like Chinea or O’Keefe out of the lineup in lieu of players like Craig Aikin, Josh Swirchak or Matt Davis. The Chiefs are forced to play their weak hitters while taking away at-bats from their best hitters, which helps explain their recent offensive issues.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/165909-dailyn-martinez?s=321

Dailyn Martinez. The 23-year-old has finally strung together a pair of very solid starts since his time in Peoria began in early July. The righty has been hit hard at times over his last 13 2/3 innings, but he has routinely found ways to work out of trouble. In his last two starts, Martinez has allowed only five earned runs on 14 hits and two walks with 14 strikeouts.

While his fastball is not overpowering, his slider and changeup serve as fine off-speed pitches. When he commands his pitches, he delivers quality performances. Martinez’s success has been very important to the Chiefs because they desperately need arms to eat up innings, and, at the moment, Martinez is doing just that.

 

Who’s Not

Josh Swirchak. Swirchak’s futility has gotten much worse over his last 10 games. Swirchak has not recorded a hit since Aug. 1 and is only hitting .081 at the Single-A level. The numbers really speak for themselves. The infielder simply cannot hit in the Midwest League and does not belong at this level. When Swirchak plays, he takes time away from Eliezer Alvarez, which is an absolute travesty.

R. J. Dennard. The first baseman is having almost a worse go at the plate than Swirchak. Dennard is only hitting .067 over his last 10 games and has not recorded a hit in over a week. Dennard’s average has dipped to .228, his worst mark on the season. The Georgia native does not have a good handle of the strike zone as he has struck out 10 times in as many games. Dennard will continue to get playing time since he is the only first baseman on the roster, but he is creating a massive hole in the lineup right now.

 

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Magneuris Sierra (hot). The entire offense has struggled over the past week, so it makes sense that Sierra took a step back. The lefty had four hits in his last 24 at-bats, so he has cooled off considerably. Sierra has also struck out 10 times in 10 games, which is cause for concern.

Jorge Rodriguez (hot). The righty produced another solid outing, but it was a quick day of work. Rodriguez only threw 4 2/3 innings, but he held Cedar Rapids scoreless on only four hits and a pair of walks.

John Kilichowski (cold). Kilichowski delivered a quality start over the weekend, allowing only one unearned run at Clinton. The lefty rebounded from a brutal outing two weeks ago, so this was encouraging to see. 

 

Transactions

INF Matt Davis was assigned to Peoria from Palm Beach on Monday.

 

Injuries

Jery Then, Luke Harrison and Juan Perez remain on the 7-day DL.

 

Team Stats – Season to Date

Peoria’s offense had a rough week, but it had little effect on their season statistics. Chiefs’ pitchers had some fine moments, but also experienced some turbulence.

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
BA .261 4 (3)
Runs 539 4 (4)
HR 43 15 (15)
Stolen Bases 94 9 (9)
OBP .329 5 (5)
OPS .680 6 (6)
     
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
ERA 3.60 11 (11)
Strikeouts 1052 4 (4)
Walks 378 9 (8)
HR Allowed 70 3 (3)
Saves 30 T-12 (9)

Midwest League Western Division Second Half Standings

Club (previous rank) W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
*Clinton (1) 42 15 .737 - 9-1 W9
Cedar Rapids (2) 33 24 .579 9.0 6-4 W1
Burlington (3) 30 27 .526 12.0 6-4 W2
Wisconsin (6) 29 28 .509 13.0 7-3 W3
Quad Cities (4) 27 30 .474 15.0 3-7 L3
*Peoria (5) 26 30 .464 15.5 2-8 L4
Kane County (7) 24 33 .421 18.0 4-6 L1
Beloit (8) 21 36 .368 21.0 3-7 L3
             
* Clinched playoffs            

What’s Next

Peoria continues a series at Wisconsin (MIL, 29-28) through Thursday before hosting Burlington (LAA, 30-27) for a four-game set through the weekend.

 

Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.

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