West Mich MLN: Rondon Hits the Shelf

Usually, when a star player hits the disabled list due to some form of injury, fans tend to think the worst. So when West Michigan Whitecaps closer Bruce Rondon had his name put on the DL, people around the organization may have panicked slightly.

Fortunately, there's a glaring silver lining to this DL stint. Rondon, who leads the Midwest League in saves and has been a staple to West Michigan's pitching staff so far this year, will only be on the disabled list for seven days with soreness in his throwing shoulder.

Since losing Rondon, the 'Caps have spread the wealth in terms of who gets the ball late in games, as saves have been recorded by Michael Torrealba, Daniel Bennett, Ryan Woolley and Nate Newman.

At 23-19 since the All Star break, West Michigan is now in a tie for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Division, holding steady with the Great Lakes Loons, who they are currently in the midst of a home series with.

Offensively, first baseman/designated hitter Clay Jones has been the story for the Whitecaps over the past week. In his last six games, Jones is hitting a staggering .522. Jones is hitting at an impressive .309 in twenty-seven games this season, while holding a .364 on base percentage and knocking in seventeen RBI.

While Jones has been on fire as of late, first baseman James Robbins has been going the opposite direction. In his last ten games, Robbins is hitting a woeful .194, with an on base percentage of only .250. While he has still shown his power—he's hit two home runs in the same ten-game stretch—his consistency at the dish has been anything but powerful.

Fortunately for the Whitecaps, third baseman Nick Castellanos has been more Jones than Robbins as of late. Castellanos is hitting .343 with four RBI and eight walks to compliment his .465 on base percentage. Castellanos also leads the Midwest League in hits, and is third in doubles.

As a team, the Whitecaps lead the Eastern Division in batting average and hits, though they are in the lower half of the league in runs scored.

On the mound, righty Kevin Eichhorn (9-3, 3.43) has been nothing short of dominant. Since his last loss—which came on May 20—Eichhorn has been showing everyone that he should be considered West Michigan's ace, as he leads the team in wins and strikeouts. In his last ten starts, Eichhorn is 6-0 with a 2.94 earned run average, while striking out forty-one batters in comparison to only eleven walks.

Complimenting Eichhorn, especially since the start of the second half, has been Alex Burgos (6-2, 2.14). Though Burgos doesn't have as impressive a stat sheet as Eichhorn, he has emerged as the number two starter in the rotation. Along with his impeccable ERA, Burgos has dominated lefties all season, as they are only hitting .133 against him.

The West Michigan Whitecaps staff as a whole hasn't necessarily been impressive statistically this year, though they have managed to do what they need to do to get a win. They do lead the Eastern Division in complete games and home runs allowed, and sit dead center in almost every other statistically category.

The upcoming path for the West Michigan Whitecaps isn't an easy one. After concluding their series against Great Lakes, the 'Caps then play a three game home series against league-leading Dayton. The Whitecaps will then hit the road again to play a familiar face in Great Lakes.

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