Montgomery Notebook: Restart to the Season

As the Biscuits (36-32) get back to playing baseball after the Southern League All- Star break Thursday night they will have a healthy Alex Colome free of any limit on pitches to go along with the serviceable duo of Kyle Lobstein and Matt Buschmann. Inside, along with notes on two Biscuits all-stars, pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein offers his take on the team's rotation.

A "restart to the season"

Biscuits right-handed starting pitcher Alex Colome, the number five prospect in the Rays organization according to Baseball America, is poised to have a successful second-half, according to his pitching coach.

Colome landed on the disabled list after he injured his oblique fielding a ground ball in a start on April 11 and did not return to the mound for the Biscuits until May 26. Since then he had been on a 75-pitch limit.

Going forward, there will be only the usual 100-110-pitch limit placed on the top prospect because his stuff is fine and his velocity has been steady; reaching 96 mph, all according to Biscuits pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein.

"I almost see it as a restart to the season," Lichtenstein said.

Colome pitched his best baseball in June, posting a 1-1 record and a 2.63 ERA in 13.2 innings. He struck out 19 batters in the month but also walked nine in the three starts.

"It's a matter of having him understand that he has to work low in the zone and not try to embarrass hitters because his stuff his that good," Lichtenstein said.

When Colome missed time during April and May, starters Kyle Lobstein and Matt Buschmann did plenty to pick up the slack. Both starters were Southern League Pitchers of the Week in the first half but not before adjustments were made to enhance their performances.

The two starters lead the team in strikeouts — Buschmann, 60, Lobstein, 59 — and have contributed to lowering the Biscuits team-ERA to 4.05, still last in the Southern League.

Buschmann, after struggling mightily in his first few games with the Biscuits, switched the side of the rubber from which he pitches from. He now throws from the first base side because fastballs and sliders were appearing the same for a long enough time to batters.

Lichtenstein said it took a while for the sinker-ball pitcher to come around to the idea.

"Sometimes you have to shock guys like him," he said. "If this is a difference maker we can't wait at 28 years old."

Biscuits all-stars

Kyeong Kang, who represented the Biscuits in the Southern League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, ended the first half of the season leading the team in home runs, with nine.

"It was an honor for me," said Kang about his experience being selected. "I've worked real hard and will keep working hard the rest of the season."

Leading the team in average, .313 and hits, 71, is infielder Omar Luna, Kang's all-star counterpart.

Kang started the all-star game as the South Division's designated hitter and went 0-2 with a run scored. Luna came off the bench and played second base. He was 1-2.

Start of the second-half

The Biscuits (36-32) will open the second-half of the season on the road against the Mobile BayBears (40-30), who are in first place in the South Division and clinched a playoff spot.

Montgomery is 3-2 against the BayBears this season.

Will Sammon is the Montgomery Biscuits beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @WillSammon.


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