Bowling Green Arms Impressive Early
The Hot Rods pitching staff has been one of the big stories of the 2012 season in the Rays system so far. Led by Venezuelan starter Felipe Rivero, who has yet to give up an earned run in 21.2 innings, Bowling Green is currently third in the Midwest League with a team ERA of 3.16. Both the rotation and the bullpen have been equally impressive, with several starters and relievers getting off to good starts to open the campaign.
Rivero has led the way for the Hot Rods staff by starting the season with four very good starts. To date, he has allowed 16 hits and five walks in his 21.2 innings while striking out 20. The lefty has been equally good against hitters from both sides of the plate and has seen a return to his ground ball tendencies that were absent during his 2011 season in the Appalachian League at Princeton.
Jake Floethe, a 2011 6th-round selection out of Cal State-Fullerton, got the Opening Day nod from manager Brady Williams and hasn't looked back. In four fantastic starts, he has an ERA of 1.71 and only once has allowed more than a run in a start, twice holding the opposition scoreless. Most impressive has been his control, as the California native has only walked 2 hitters in 21 innings of work while striking out 16.
Another 2011 draft selection has also shown splendid control so far. Left-handed starter Ryan Carpenter has just 3 walks in his 23 innings. It looks like his issues from his college days at Gonzaga have been rectified since joining the Rays organization, as last year at Hudson Valley he displayed an excellent walk rate as well.
The bullpen has been pitching well too. Led by Jacob Partridge, who has a 1.32 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 7 appearances, the relievers have done a very good job of pitching in tight ballgames and have 6 saves split between four players. The Hot Rods have also won quite a few close games late thanks to the work of the pen.
Jason McEachern is one reliever in particular that bears mentioning. After working most of his career as a starter, he seems to be flourishing as a reliever. He currently sports a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings and opponents are hitting just .143 off of him. He must do a better job at harnessing his control though, as to date he has 7 walks and has hit a team-high four batters.
Through Tuesday the Hot Rods team ERA of 2.84 was nearly a run-and-a-half better than the Charlotte Stone Crabs mark of 4.32 in the Rays organization. However, the most impressive thing about the Bowling Green staff so far in 2012 is that they have issued only 46 walks in 182.1 innings, a mark that leads the Midwest League. If this talented staff can stay in the strike zone all season, then the Hot Rods could be in line for a VERY good season.
John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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