Lakeland MLN: Losing Big Mo

Momentum can play a big part in baseball. Many people say "the hottest team in September will win it in October." And, although we aren't near October, or, in Minor League terms, September, the Flying Tigers rode a high wave of momentum until the end of last week but, unfortunately, the wave has dulled.

With the aid of two consecutive rainouts early in the week, the previously hot Tiger bats have been doused and the cruising arms have been slowed. Lakeland finished the week 2-3, and are unfortunately seeming to regress back to the .500 ball they displayed all throughout the first half.

Mere Embers

Not even with the sparkplug journeyman Carlos Guillen could Lakeland rekindle their swings this week. Guillen, in three rehab starts for Detroit, posted just one hit in ten at-bats out of the two hole and, unfortunately, seemed to lead the rest of the club.

In the 3-4-5 holes in the lineup, the most formidable spots in the lineup, purportedly, Tony Plagman, Jordan Lennerton, and Wade Gaynor only accumulated 11 hits in 5 games, a number implying a change could be coming soon, especially for Plagman.

The solid-fielding, and usually powerful Plagman hasn't driven in a runner since the 21st and hasn't homered in the past ten days.

In fact, for the second week in three, Lakeland, as a team, didn't homer for a full week.

Plagman still sits, or stands tall at fourth on the FSL RBI leaderboard, so his position in the lineup may not be immediately affected, but Avisail Garcia and Julio Rodriguez may soon see a rise in the order.

Being one of the organization's most coveted prospects, Garcia hasn't seen his time on the field diminish despite major early season woes. His prowess in the field and 5-tool ability have kept him playing and, now that the top of the order is struggling, Garcia, who is 6-for-18 with a stolen base in the past week, may find himself with a more promising opportunity to develop.

Rodriguez, the all-star catcher, or hitter, as he already has 10 errors in the field this year, might also vie for a higher spot in the order. He's 7-for-14 since last Wednesday and holds a .302 average for the year.

You know what they say: "don't let one aspect of the game affect another."

Cooler arms

Early in the year it was the bullpen who was anchoring the staff and the rotation who was losing games. Then, after about a month of that, the two switched, and then, after that, they both were mowing down hitters. Pitching must be cyclical, though, because the trend has returned to its beginning.

Drew Smyly has assumed the role of Jay Voss as the clear staff ace, but, behind him, the rotation has been mixed a bit and has yet to solidify.

On Tuesday Smyly deposited one of his trademark six inning, strikeout heavy outing against Clearwater when he allowed only one run and struck out eight en route to a 7-1 win.

The start, although more than worthy, was unfortunately the best of the week.

Cole Nelson pitched the only other Quality Start of the week vs Clearwater when he allowed two earned runs in six innings. He delivered Faulk's only save of the week, his 19th.

After the starters, Lakeland never let themselves fall out of a game's contention. Throughout the week olid outings from Victor Larez, Ryan Robowski, and Tyler Stohr, kept Lakeland close but, subject to the dependence of late-inning hitting, which never showed, their outings were rendered futile.

In the back of the bullpen, Kenny Faulk is now tied with Clearwater's Justin Friend for second in the FSL in Saves.

Making Moves

On the 23rd pitcher Matt Little was activated from the 7-day disabled list.

On the 25th the spunky outfielder Michael Rockett, whose sharp play and solid fielding sent him up to AA Erie, was relegated back to Lakeland.

On the 26th third baseman C.J. Retherford was released from the team.

The largest move of the week was Lakeland acquiring infielder Carlos Guillen during his rehab stint while in progress back to the majors.

Looking forward

Lakeland kicks off the week with two games at Dunedin. They then play Clearwater for two in two days, and then host Dunedin for four straight.

The Flying Tigers are in the middle of a 16-day stretch where they play 16 games. If it weren't for the two rainouts, they'd have played games in 22 straight days by the end of the stretch.

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