Lakeland MLN: Pitching Staff Remains Red Hot

It was a short week, only five games since last week's Lakeland notebook, and while that proved to be just short enough to slow down the previously ablaze Tigers bats, it was not long enough, not by a long shot, to cool the pitching staff.

It's been that way lately, while the beginning of the year was all Tony Plagman and his pack of offensive acolytes, the lineup has been surpassed by the pitching rotation as the team's most trustworthy force – especially, and surprisingly, after the departure of up-and-coming Jay Voss.

And while the five-game span yielded an unremarkable 2-3 record, mainly because of offensive paucity, Lakeland's pitching was very hard to hit and, on Wednesday, one hit away from unhittable.

Nearly a no-no

Each of Lakeland's last five starts saw the pitcher take the mound and pitch with quality – that is, each pitched, by statistical definition, a Quality Start (at least six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs allowed):

6/3 Drew Smyly: 6 IP, 2 ER

6/4 Trevor Feeney: 8 IP, 2 ER

6/5 Cole Nelson: 6 IP, 3 ER

6/6 Jared Wesson: 6 IP, 3 ER

6/8 Drew Smyly: 7 IP 0 ER

And, while the Quality Start statistic is constantly under scrutiny, there is no denying the effective of Smyly's late-week QS.

With his seven shutout innings, Smyly threw the first seven innings of the team's most accomplished win of the season. Versus Daytona (highest team batting average and most runs scored in the FSL North) Smyly did not allow a hit and set up Tyler Stohr for a committee no-hitter against the league's best offense. He also struck out seven.

Unfortunately, though, Stohr, who allowed three earned runs in one inning a few days ago, was unable to finish the no-no, allowing a hit to Jake Optiz with two outs in the eight. (Which outing stings worse?)

The game, in its entirety, though, was Lakeland's most solid and impressive win of the year.

The pitching allowed no hits and struck out eight, the defense did not commit an error, the offense scored four runs and ten hits, and Eduardo Nunez even swiped a base.

It is the type of game that holds a team on its shoulders as it cruises into the fresh second half.

Unfortunately it required a one-hitter to get a win

Lakeland's other four starts, from Smyly, Wesson, Nelson, and Feeney, as said above, were more than enough to merit a quality win but, because of an offensive outage, mostly resulted in pretty disappointing losses.

In five games Lakeland scored sixteen runs, but eight of those came in Friday's game, meaning in the other four games they only scored eight – two per game.

At points it was, simply, ineffective hitting, but at other times, it was the lack of clutch hitting.

In one game, while Tampa scored three on just six hits, Lakeland almost double their hit total with ten, but was only able to score one.

It could also be the utter (complete) lack of power.

Lakeland did not hit a home run all week. In fact, they have only 29 yardmonsters on the year, the fourth lowest team-home run total in the FSL and, supporting their lack of being clutch, have only three more runs than Fort Myers, who have the league-low 19 homers.

The only hitters to continue slight production are Tony Plagman (what else is new?) and Jordan Lennerton (what else is new?), but what else is new?

Lennerton, who was promoted to the clean-up spot in the lineup, switching with Wade Gaynor, went 7-for-14 with 2 RBI while Plagman went 6-for-16.

Plagman, who only drove in one run this week, has dropped to sixth on the FSL leaderboard with 42.

Looking ahead

The week ahead is the last week before the FSL all-star game in Clearwater.

To end the first half Lakeland has two more games vs. Daytona, followed by three vs. Brevard County, and then three vs. Tampa.

Making Moves

On the 5th Lakeland acquired Dan Pentzler and RHP Luke Putkonen, and on the 8th acquired Jeff Kunkel.

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