Deck McGuire (Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports Images)

This week’s news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis and a look ahead to next

St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club went 2-5 during Week 20 of the 2016 Pacific Coast League and were eliminated from playoff contention. Although he did not pick up a win, Deck McGuire was terrific on the mound (12 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts and two earned runs on seven hits over two starts).

The Memphis Redbirds (62-70) dropped five games out of seven during Week 20 and have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Redbirds especially struggled to plate runners, scoring more than three runs only twice. However, the pitching staff (led by Deck McGuire and Mike Mayers) performed well and kept the opposition from loading up the scoreboard (31 runs allowed in seven games).

Here is how the week unfolded:

 

Friday, August 19: Reno (ARI) 5 at Memphis (STL) 2

After holding a 1-0 lead through six innings, Memphis allowed five runs on 10 hits in the top half of the seventh and eighth to drop the home series finale against Reno, 5-2.

Alex Mejia (2-for-4) drove in Memphis’ first run with an RBI double and extended his hit streak to six games. Mejia also scored the team’s final run via Breyvic Valera’s (1-for-3) sac fly in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom (1-for-1) hit a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth but was unable to reach home.

Starter Deck McGuire worked six innings, fanned five and allowed one earned run (a lead-off homer in the seventh) on four hits. Reliever Ryan Sherriff (6-1, 2.97) picked up his first loss of the season after bringing home four earned on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings.

 

Saturday, August 20: Memphis (STL) 3 at Iowa (CHC) 6

Memphis attempted to rally from a 6-0 deficit through seven innings but fell short in a 6-3 loss at Iowa.

The Redbirds scored three on five hits in the eighth inning, led by Michael Ohlman’s (1-for-4) RBI double and Harrison Bader’s (2-for-4) two-RBI single. With the double, Ohlman extended his hitting streak at nine games. Nick Martini (2-for-3) finished with two walks and a run scored.

Starter Jeremy Hefner (3-6, 5.20) allowed six earned runs on nine hits in five innings to take his sixth loss of the season. Relievers Corey Littrell and John Brebbia followed, with Brebbia scattering one hit and striking out three in two innings.

 

Sunday, August 21: Memphis (STL) 4 at Iowa (CHC) 1

Memphis’ offense scattered 10 hits and the pitching staff struck out 11 to grab game two over Iowa, 4-1.

Valera (3-for-5) plated a run and had his seventh three-hit game of the season. Efren Navarro (2-for-5) added an RBI as well. Carson Kelly (1-for-4) scored a runner and is now on his third separate five-game hitting streak in 26 games with Memphis.

Starter Mike Mayers (4-6, 3.20) picked up his fourth win in a Redbird uniform after fanning eight and allowing one earned on six hits in five innings. Relievers Sherriff, Dean Kiekhefer and Miguel Socolovich combined for four scoreless innings on one hit.

 

Monday, August 22: Memphis (STL) 2 at Iowa (CHC) 7

Memphis finished 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, left 11 on base and had 13 strikeouts in a 7-2 loss to Iowa.

Wisdom (1-for-4) hit his fourth homer of the season to lead off the seventh. Bader (1-for-4) plated the team’s final runner in the ninth. Ohlman’s (0-for-4) hit streak was snapped at nine.

Starter Kurt Heyer (2-3, 5.92) absorbed his third consecutive loss, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Reliever Thomas Lee gave up two earned on three hits in 2 2/3 frames.

 

Tuesday, August 23: Memphis (STL) 2 at Iowa (CHC) 3

A throwing error by reliever Littrell (1-4, 3.91) was the nail in the coffin for Memphis in a 3-2 loss to Iowa. The Redbirds have now lost six out of their last eight games.

Valera (2-for-2) rebounded from Monday night’s hitless game, reaching base four times and scoring a run. Navarro’s (1-for-4) single in the fifth scored both of the team’s runs.

Arturo Reyes couldn’t earn his 10th win in 2016, allowing one earned on four hits in his abbreviated 3 2/3 inning start. Littrell was given the loss after allowing one run (zero earned) and issuing one free pass in 1 1/3 innings.

 

Wednesday, August 24: Nashville (OAK) 3 at Memphis (STL) 3

Memphis dropped the opener of a five-game home series against league-leaders and division rivals Nashville Sounds, 3-0.

Although he picked up the loss, starter McGuire (6-11, 5.43) was excellent on the mound, working six innings, fanning eight (tying a season-high) and only allowing one earned run on three hits. Relievers Brebbia and Sherriff followed, with the former giving up two earned on three hits in 1 2/3 innings and the latter retiring four batters in 1 1/3 innings.

Wisdom (2-for-3) led all Memphis batters with a single and double. Kelly (1-for-3) added a double of his own. Navarro (1-for-4), Jose Martinez (1-for-4) and Dean Anna (1-for-3) rounded out the team’s meager six hits.

 

Thursday, August 25: Nashville (OAK) 6 at Memphis (STL) 7

The Redbirds, down 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, scored four straight over the next three, including two home runs and a walk off single, to grab game two over Nashville, 7-6.

Matt Adams (1-for-3), on a rehab assignment, hit a two-run homer in the first. Matt Williams (1-for-4) and Bader (1-for-4) added a solo shot each. Valera (2-for-4) reached home on a throwing error in the ninth for the walk off.

Starter Jeremy Hefner struck out six, walked two and allowed three earned runs on six hits in five innings for a no decision. Relievers Littrell and Kiekhefer combined for three walks and three earned on three hits in 1 2/3 innings before Thomas Lee (2-5, 5.74) picked up his second win of the season, retiring all seven batters in 2 1/3 innings.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/144289-deck-mcguire?s=321

Deck McGuire started two games in Week 20, fanning 13, walking three and allowing two earned on seven hits in 12 innings.

Mike Mayers worked five innings August 21 at Iowa, striking out eight and giving up one earned on six hits, and picking up his fourth win of the season.

http://www.scout.com/player/104973-efren-navarro?s=321

Efren Navarro was excellent in Week 20, going 9-for-28 with four RBI in seven games.

Breyvic Valera went 8-for-24 with three RBI and three runs scored, including the game winner August 25 vs. Nashville.

http://www.scout.com/player/157706-nick-martini?s=321

Nick Martini found his footing since returning from Double-A Springfield, going 6-for-22 with two doubles and two triples.

Patrick Wisdom was 6-for-21 with one HR, three RBI and one double in seven games.

 

Who’s Not

Harrison Bader went 4-for-15 with one HR and three RBI in seven games during the week.

David Washington went 2-for-15 with one RBI and one double in five games.

Jeremy Hefner tossed 10 innings over two games during the week, combining for nine strikeouts, four walks and nine earned runs on 15 hits.

Kurt Heyer started one game in Week 20, allowing five earned on seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, and picked up his third loss with Memphis.

Dean Kiekhefer allowed two earned runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings this past week.

 

Transactions

Matt Adams, who went on St. Louis’ 15-day disabled list August 11 due to left shoulder inflammation, was assigned to Memphis on a rehab assignment Thursday. In 95 games for St. Louis, the first baseman is hitting .249/.307/.455 with 12 HR and 44 RBI, and a .385 pinch-hit average with two homers and nine RBI.

http://www.scout.com/player/133115-matt-adams?s=321

Memphis had two players – LF Anthony Garcia and SS Dean Anna – activated from the 7-day disabled list this past week. In order to make room for the additions, the Cardinals assigned SS Alex Mejia and 3B Jacob Wilson to Double-A Springfield.

Prior to being placed on the disabled list, Anna was slashing .268/.350/348 with two HR and 39 RBI in 104 games for Memphis. Garcia, who was assigned to Springfield in May and promoted back to Memphis in July, was 21-for-66 with five HR and nine RBI in 22 games between July 19 and August 14.

Here is a list of all of the transactions that occurred:

08/20/2016: SS Alex Mejia assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.

08/20/2016: Memphis Redbirds activate SS Dean Anna from the 7-day disabled list.

08/23/2016: 3B Jacob Wilson assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.

08/23/2016: Memphis Redbirds activate LF Anthony Garcia from the 7-day disabled list.

08/25/2016: St. Louis Cardinals send 1B Matt Adams on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds.

 

TCN Top 50 Prospects

The Redbirds have eight of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospects on their roster, though two are out for the remainder of the season. Here is a list of the top prospects playing in Triple-A Memphis:

4. Harrison Bader: Bader started four games and pinch-hit once during Week 20, going 4-for-15 with one HR and four RBI. The outfielder continues to struggle finding hits for Memphis, slashing .231/.299/.357, and has three HR and 17 RBI in 47 games (compared to 13 HR and 33 RBI in 73 games for Double-A Springfield).

9. Carson Kelly: Kelly, who splits time with Michael Ohlman, went 3-for-14 with two doubles and one RBI in four games. The catcher has been very reliable at the plate for Memphis, hitting .299/.361/.381 and reaching base in 24 of 28 games.

13. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the start of 2016, ending his season.

17. Tim Cooney: Cooney underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a Bennett lesion (calcium build-up in the shoulder). The lefty had been sidelined since Spring Training with discomfort in his shoulder prior to the diagnosis.

26. Mike Mayers: Mayers started one game during Week 20 on August 21 at Iowa, fanning eight and giving up one earned on six hits in five innings, and picked up his fourth win of the season. The pitcher has been one of the most reliable weapons in the rotation, leading the team’s starters in ERA (3.20) and WHIP (1.25).

39. Corey Littrell: Littrell came out of the bullpen in three games this week, picking up his fourth loss of the season August 23 at Iowa and combining for one strikeout, five walks and two runs (one earned) on one hit in 3 1/3 innings.

40. David Washington: Washington played five games during Week 20, going 2-for-15 with one RBI and one double. The outfielder/infielder is a terrific slugger (team-leading 23 HR in 95 games), but has struggled with consistency (.239/.340/.520) and strikeout issues (team-leading 129 strikeouts and a 42.4 percent strikeout rate).

46. Dean Kiekhefer: Kiekhefer worked 2 2/3 innings, giving up two earned on three hits, fanning one and issuing one free pass in one game. The reliever, who has spent 15 games over four stints in the majors this season, has been a valuable weapon out of the bullpen. The lefty leads all Memphis relievers in ERA (2.16) and wins (six), and is second in WHIP (1.20) for the team’s relievers.

 

Memphis Stats

Offense Season Stat PCL Rank
BA .264 10th 
Runs 598 13th 
HR 101 Tied for 11th
Stolen Bases 82 Tied for 8th 
RBI 564 13th  
Strikeouts/Walks 967/463 7th/4th 
     
Pitching Season Stat PCL Rank
W-L 62-70 Tied for 13th 
ERA 4.78 10th 
Strikeouts/Walks 979/446 9th/10th 
Saves 32 9th 
WHIP 1.45 Tied for 9th 
Hits Allowed 1187 8th 

Memphis Standings

Team W-L PCT GB
Nashville Sounds 77-56 .579 -
Round Rock Express 66-67 .496 11.0
New Orleans Zephyrs 65-66 .496 11.0
Memphis Redbirds 62-70 .470 14.5

What’s Next

After going 2-5 during Week 20 of the 2016 PCL season, the Redbirds (62-70) finish their five-game home series against the Nashville Sounds (77-56), followed by a four-game road trip to the Oklahoma City Dodgers (72-59).

While the club is out of playoff contention, the Redbirds are not assured of finishing the season on a positive note. Memphis has a three-game advantage over their cross state rivals from Nashville (8-5), but have not played as well against the Dodgers (3-5) this season.

Nashville and Oklahoma City field two of the best pitching staffs in the league, with the Sounds posting a league-leading 3.38 ERA and the Dodgers a second-place 3.76 ERA. However, both clubs aren’t nearly as strong at the plate (.261/.330/.425 line for Nashville and a .262/.336/.408 line for Oklahoma City).

After Jeremy Hefner’s start Thursday night, Mike Mayers returns to the mound Friday vs. Nashville, followed by Kurt Heyer, Arturo Reyes and Deck McGuire.

 

Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.

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