While the bullpen has provided many problems for the team in the past, three out of four wins this week were recorded by relievers – all three bullpen lead victories were on consecutive nights. Don't be deceived, however – the Lakeland starters performed well, despite a lack of offense in the early portions of the game.
Jonah Nickerson lost the first game of the week against Tampa, giving up three runs in seven innings, but he would redeem himself later in the week, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Palm Beach. Nickerson pitched 7 and 2/3 innings and surrendered only one hit, evening up his record at 3-3. This is the second time this season that Nickerson has taken a no-hitter into the eighth.
The first win registered by a reliever this week came from a pitcher who has tasted major league action before – Jordan Tata. The 26-yr old right hander has been used sparingly out of the bullpen, posting a 9.53 ERA. Tata struck out one Tampa player in two innings of work while giving up zero runs on May 14th, earning the win in a Flying Tigers comeback. Angel Castro registered the save before being called up to AA Erie.
The next win recorded by a reliever came on the next night against the Tampa Yankees with a score of 8-7. Derek Witt followed Ramon Garcia and gave up one run in one inning of work. The offense, however, provided enough power in the late innings to give Witt the victory, improving his record to 2-1. Jay Sborz then pitched 2 and 2/3 innings and registered his first save with Lakeland.
The last win recorded by a Lakeland reliever this week was credited to new acquisition Zach Simons. The former Rockies prospect pitched only 1/3 of an inning of work, following a strong outing by top prospect Rick Porcello who gave up one run in 5 and 2/3 innings of work. Nick Martin then recorded his first save of the season.
On the offensive side, Ryan Strieby continues to swing a hot bat with his mother in attendance for several games this week. While his average wasn't particularly high at some points, he did manage to hit two important home runs while driving in four runs.
Jeramy Laster also hit two home runs this week, improving his Florida State League leading total to eight. Laster also managed to drive in three runs. Unfortunatly, Laster started and finished his week with two 0-4 performances, registering three strikeouts in each game. Overall, the Flying Tigers bats have not been particularly strong as of late. There are no players on the team batting above or around .300, but Scott Sizemore, James Skelton, Cale Iorg, and Ryan Strieby are all hovering slightly over .270.
Lakeland will finish their series against Palm Beach at home this week and then head to Jupiter for four games.