Mike O'Reilly (Paul Ivice/The Cardinal Nation)

Insider news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period of May 2-8.

Manager Chris Swauger is making changes to his pitching rotation and bullpen as mound struggles led to the Class-A Chiefs to drop to 11-16, including a 2-4 week. Mike O’Reilly will make his first start on Tuesday.

Game Summaries

 

Tuesday, May 2: Peoria Chiefs 8 at Lansing Lugnuts 6

The Chiefs offense sparked a come from behind victory after starting pitcher Jordan Hicks put them in a hole via a three-run first-inning home run by Lansing.

Bryce Denton briefly broke out of his slump, going 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. Andrew Knizner also continued to be a run producer in the cleanup spot as he went 2-for-5 with two RBI.

After his rocky first inning, Hicks settled down and only allowed three more hits over six innings. The right-hander also struck out four and walked three while hitting one batter. Hicks now has five starts of at least six innings this season and the Chiefs are 5-0 in those games.

 

Wednesday, May 3: Peoria Chiefs 7 at Lansing Lugnuts 9

After not being in the lineup for three consecutive games, second baseman J.R. Davis showed why he needs to be on the field more often as he went 2-for-2 with a solo home run and three RBI.

The Chiefs got off to a hot start as they batted around and picked up a 4-0 advantage in the first inning. Starting pitcher Ronnie Williams surrendered the lead in the second though, hitting two batters and allowing five hits, all which came around to score, to put the Lugnuts up 7-4.

Andy Young tried to jump start a comeback effort with a solo home run in the seventh, however, it was not enough as Peoria could not overcome the deficit.

Relief pitcher Greg Tomchick allowed one run on two hits over 1 1/3 innings while hitting three, bringing his ERA up to 9.28. Williams suffered the loss as he allowed eight runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 innings, which put his ERA at 9.90.

 

Thursday, May 4: Peoria Chiefs at Lansing Lugnuts (Cancelled: Rain)

The final game of the series between the Chiefs and the Lugnuts was cancelled due to rain. Since the two teams do not play again in 2017, the game will not be made up. The teams split the series 1-1.

 

Friday, May 5: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Great Lakes Loons 2

Starting pitcher Ian Oxnevad had a solid night on the mound for the second start in a row. The left-hander worked five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out a season high seven. With a hot offense, this is exactly the kind of outing the Chiefs need from their pitchers to win games.

The bullpen also put together a strong showing as Spencer Trayner, Brady Bowen, and Ramon Santos pitched a collective five shutout innings on six hits while striking out four.

Tommy Edman picked up his team-high fourth game-winning RBI when he singled in the ninth to give the Chiefs the edge.

 

Saturday, May 6: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Great Lakes Loons 8

Just one game after Peoria’s bullpen locked down the game, they gave this one away.

Matt Davis hit his first professional home run and Knizner added a solo shot as well to help put the Chiefs up early.

Starting pitcher Steven Farinaro handed the ball to the Eric Carter in the seventh with a 4-3 lead after allowing five hits and striking out eight.

Carter suffered his first blown save of the season as he allowed three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter in just 2/3 of an inning. Tomchick then allowed two runs on one hit, one walk and one hit batter over 1 1/3 innings.

 

Sunday, May 7: Peoria Chiefs 1 at Great Lakes Loons 2

The Chiefs offense failed to produce as they were held to just one run on six hits in a pitcher’s duel.

Chiefs starter Bryan Dobzanski and Loons starter AJ Alexy each allowed just one hit through four scoreless innings. Great Lakes would score first on a pair of hits in the fifth.

A missed umpire call kept the Chiefs from tying the game in the sixth. Young hit a ground ball down the third base line for what appeared to be a double, however, the home plate umpire lost sight and called it foul. Despite an umpire meeting, the call was not changed and Young eventually struck out ahead of what would have been a game-tying single by Stefan Trosclair.

After starting four games this season, John Kilichowski worked in a piggy-back role due to the recent schedule disruptions. The lefty took the loss in his first relief outing since last June. Kilichowski allowed one run on a solo homer, the only hit against him, struck out five and walked two over three innings.

 

Monday, May 8: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Western Michigan Whitecaps 7

After going at least six innings in his first five starts of the season, Hicks struggled and was removed after securing just two outs. Manager Chris Swauger pulled his ace in the middle of an at bat, as after 34 pitches, they apparently decided it was enough.  The 20-year-old suffered his first loss of the season against four wins, allowing two runs on two hits, with two walks and a strikeout.

One of the few positives to take away from the game was Nick Plummer making his return to the lineup after an oblique strain had kept him out since April 13.

The bullpen had to carry a heavy load, starting with Williams, who threw 3 1/3 innings with five hits and three runs allowed. He struck out five while issuing two walks and yielding a home run. Frederis Parra made his Chiefs debut, going 2 2/3 innings while allowing five hits, a run, and striking out one. Trayner threw 1 1/3 innings on two hits, one run, and struck out two. Estarlin Arias went one inning with a walk and two strikeouts while also hitting a batter.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/209596-andrew-knizner?s=321

Andrew Knizner - The catcher had a sold week at the plate going 7-for-20 (.350). Knizner has been a run producer over the last five games for the Chiefs as he scored five and collected five RBI. Knizner had been getting it done at the plate all season, leading the team with a .312 average and is second in home runs with four. He also does not strike out often with just seven strikeouts in 100 plate appearances.

Matt Davis – Over the last seven days, Davis has six hits in 17 at-bats (.353) including two home runs and three RBI. The utilityman also walked twice, stole a base and scored four runs.

http://www.scout.com/player/209684-stefan-trosclair?s=321

Stefan Trosclair - Trosclair extended his hitting streak to eight games as he went 8-for-22 (.364) over the last five games to bring his average to .297. The first baseman also drove in two runs in that span, which brings his season RBI total to a team-leading 14.

Bryan Dobzanski – The big right-hander allowed just one run on three hits over five innings on Sunday to get back on track. Putting aside his April 24 clunker (eight earned runs over 2 1/3 innings), Dobzanski’s season ERA would be 2.00 instead of its current 5.31.

http://www.scout.com/player/209707-mike-o-reilly?s=321

Mike O’Reilly – One reason the right-hander is getting Tuesday’s start has to be his recent success. Over the last week, he faced nine batters and secured nine outs, on five ground balls and a strikeout. O’Reilly did allow one hit, but that runner was erased.

 

Who’s Not

Danny Hudzina - Hudzina has struggled of late, going just 2-for-16 over his last four games. The third baseman is batting just .188 on the season with just five RBI.

Dylan Carlson - Carlson is batting just .194 on the season and is leading the team in strikeouts with 32 in 85 plate appearances (41.2 %). The outfielder's OBP is better at .326 though, as he leads the team in walks with 13.

Bryce Denton – The outfielder went just 2-for-15 (.133) over the last seven days, but both hits went for extra bases, a double and home run, for two RBI.

Jordan Hicks – After a good first four starts to the season, the team’s ace stumbled on Monday, unable to get out of the first inning. His ERA actually went down from 2.81 to 2.76, however, as both runs scored against him were unearned – in part due to his own fielding error.

 

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Brian O’Keefe - After being in the hot section last week, O’Keefe could have easily found himself listed as cold this week. The 23-year-old went just 2-for-23 (.087) in his last five games with no RBI and no runs scored. He still leads the team with a .370 OBP though, as he has been able to draw seven walks in the span.

Ronnie Williams - As opposed to O’Keefe, Williams was cold last week and he remains as icy. The right-hander has yet to put together a really solid performance and his ERA is up to a 9.64, which is worst on the team. That has led to a move from starting to the bullpen.

 

Team Stats – Season to Date

The offense seems to be trending in the right direction, however the pitching staff is headed the opposite way, dead last in the league in ERA. Manager Chris Swauger seems to be trying to shake things up with his rotation as he brought Williams in for relief and inserted Mike O’Reilly into the starting rotation. 

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last
week’s rank)
BA 0.255 5 (5)
Runs 113 12 (T-11)
HR 27 2 (T-2)
Stolen Bases 19 T-12 (T-13)
OBP 0.324 T-5 (6) 
OPS 0.729  3 (4)
     
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 
ERA 5.04 16 (15)
Strikeouts 194 16 (16)
Walks 83 13 (9)
HR Allowed 33 1 (1)
Saves 3 T15 (T-14)

First-half standings – Midwest League Western Division 

CLUB (Previous rank) W L PCT GB
Kane County Cougars (ARI) (1) 16 11 0.593 -
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) (2) 17 12 0.586 -
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) (3) 15 13 0.536 1.5
Beloit Snappers (OAK) (4) 13 15 0.464 3.5
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) (5) 12 15 0.476 4
Peoria Chiefs (STL) (7) 11 16 0.407 5
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) (6) 11 17 0.393 5.5
Burlington Bees (LAA) (8) 10 16 0.385 5.5

Transactions

5/07 Reliever Eric Carter was placed on the temporarily inactive list.

5/08 Reliever Greg Tomchick was released.

5/08 Reliever Frederis Parra assigned to Peoria from Johnson City.

5/08 Reliever Austin Sexton was assigned to Peoria from State College.

5/08 Outfielder Shane Billings was assigned to Palm Beach.

 

Injuries

5/08 Outfielder Nick Plummer was activated from the 7-day disabled list.

 

What’s Next

The Chiefs will continue their series vs. Western Michigan through Wednesday, then remain home and wrap up their string of MLE opponents by taking on South Bend Cubs Thursday through Saturday. They are off Sunday, before heading back out on the road and to face off against the Cedar Rapids Kernels for four games in three days, including the April 30 make up contest.  

 

Follow Nick Konow on Twitter @NickKonow1.

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