Lakeland MLN: Struggling to Pick Up Steam

The Flying Tigers, against the auspicious late first-half herald that showed spark and a promising second half, have begun to fall into their common play, and have begun the second half at no more than average.

Despite a late resurgence from the team, highlighted by an impressive all-star game performance that, basically, highlighted the entire game, the rest of the Flying Tiger team has continued their regular first-half performance, and remains at their unimpressive sub-.500 gameplay.

"We all know, the team as a consensus, how good we can be," said second baseman Corey Jones, "we have an opportunity to win the second half..."

But, despite a brand new chance at a playoff push, and a new spark plug, Carlos Guillen, who Jones thought was a refreshing presence, the Tigers have continued their mediocre game.

"…as long as we show some consistency, which is a big word that might not have been with us everyday during the first half," Jones reflected, "if we can get some consistency then I think we'll be alright.

An infirm offense

Heretofore, Lakeland has been a consistently inconsistent team… like said before. Their offense has usually been the basis of the team but, so far in the second half, the offense has been anemic. They haven't been completely blank but runs have been rare.

First baseman Tony Plagman, as usual, has been the strongest point of the weak Flying Tigers offense.

Since June 30th Plagman, although only 5-for-22 during the span, has one home run to go along with nine RBI to lead the offense.

The five man in the lineup, Jordan Lennerton, hasn't done much to protect Plagman. In the six games in the past week, Lennerton has struck out an excitable twelve times. And, not only hurting him and his production, his looseness at the plate leaves Plagman, even Bergolla, vulnerable at the plate to out-of-the-zone and "fishing" pitching. With Lennerton's indiscipline, it's an easy choice for an opposing pitcher to give Plagman tough pitches.

Lennerton's production, which has been fluent throughout the season, has been one of the reasons Plagman is toward the top of the FSL leaderboard in RBI. But his recent ebb could lead to a possible regression to Plagman,'s, and the team's offensive production. There's a reason he's called the clean-up hitter.

Slightly better pitching

"…as long as the pitching continues to do well," Jones said as he talked about the optimistic future.

And although the pitching was, as Jones echoed, a favorable aspect of the Lakeland game, it has not been, ultimately, one of the Flying Tigers' faculties so far in the second half.

One of Lakeland's most consistent starters –not consistently good, but consistently in the rotation--, Cole Nelson, after an outing where he recorded two outs and let up four earned runs, is the bottom of Lakeland's staff so far. He's lost five of his last seven starts.

Aside from Nelson there have been, as expected, a few bright performances from Lakeland pitching:

Trevor Feeney.

In Fenney's past 14 innings thrown he's only allowed four earned runs and led Lakeland to a solid 5-1 win over Dunedin. He and Drew Smyly, former Pitcher of the Month, although Smyly allowed four runs in three innings in his last start, have been the anchors of the Flying Tigers' staff since Jay Voss departed to Erie.

The team is, nominally, and at such an early point in the season, only two games out of first place, but is in last place.

Making moves

On July 1st RHP Nate Newman was assigned to Lakeland from West Michigan.

Looking forward

Starting Friday, Lakeland plays Brevard County, in Brevard, for four straight games. After one day off, they host the FSL South leading St. Lucie Mets.


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