West Mich MLN: Starting the 2nd Half Strong

With the All Star break behind them, the West Michigan Whitecaps were looking at the beginning of the second half of the season as an opportunity to build upon a late run that moved them from the bottom of the division to a slightly more comfortable spot in the middle of it.

So far, they've been able to do just that.

Sitting at 2-1 in the second half after winning their opening series against South Bend, the 'Caps are in the early hunt for the top of the division for the first time this season.

Though impressive hitting was the main factor for West Michigan towards the end of the first half, fierce pitching match-ups have been the story since returning from the break; fortunately, the 'Caps have been on the winning side for most of them.

While the bullpen has been the talk of the team—at least from a pitching standpoint—so far this season, it was the performance of starter Alex Burgos (2-1, 1.45) in the opening game of the second half that was most impressive. Burgos gave up only four hits in a 2-1 battle against South Bend, and has thrown fourteen strikeouts against only three walks so far this season.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos is continuing to improve as a hitter, especially as of late. His .301 average is second-best on the team behind shortstop Hernan Perez, and is seventh-best in the Eastern Division. Castellanos also leads the team in runs batted in, where he is also seventh in the Eastern Division.

Overall, Perez continues to be the biggest commodity in the lineup. He leads the team in batting average with .309 and stolen bases, with thirteen. He's also found some power in the bat, and has accrued six home runs this season. He's also near the top of the team in extra base hits, with twenty.

As a team, West Michigan is second in the Eastern Division in batting average with .257, trailing only Lansing, who sits at .258. They also sit at third in the Eastern Division in home runs, with forty five.

As previously mentioned, the starting staff for the Whitecaps has proven that it is capable of going to the next level since the start of the second half; however, relievers Bruce Rondon (2-1, 2.00, 12 SV) and Ramon Lebron (2-1, 1.16, 1 SV) have been the highlight of the Whitecaps pitching staff, and one of the best bullpen duos in the Midwest League.

As a whole, West Michigan's pitching staff has the second-best team earned run average in the Eastern Division, behind only South Bend. They've only given up thirty-four home runs, which is good for best in the Midwest League.

The West Michigan Whitecaps head back to Comstock Park to finish their six game series against South Bend, after taking two of three in South Bend. Tomorrow's game is the first at home in the second half, and starts at 7:00 PM.

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