Lakeland MLN: Rain hampers LFT

In a week where the Lakeland Flying Tigers were only able to play one day of baseball, they made the most of it. In a double header the Lakeland Flying Tigers swept the Tampa Yankees. They've had two games cancelled and three postponed.

If the rain was just a neusense last week, now it's become a scheduling nightmare. When a weekend series gets washed out that tends to happen. The two games against the Clearwater Threshers were cancelled since they Flying Tigers aren't travelling to Clearwater for the rest of the first half of the season. The weekend series against the Daytona Cubs is planning to be rescheduled somehow on their next trip to Daytona.

Any week that you don't record a loss is a great week, even if it was just two game. It looks like the offensive spark has turned into a fire. In the 14 innings played this week the 11 runs scored would nearly outscore some seven game weeks from the start of the season.

In the rain drenched week there were a few bright spots in the double header in Tampa. Jeramy Laster made his return to the Flying Tigers lineup after recovering from an MCL sprain that occurred on opening day. Laster played both games in the double header and started with a bang. In his first at bat he pulled the pitch to left field for a home run. In the two games Laster went 1-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts.

The power Laster brings would be a huge improvement to the Flying Tigers lineup. What has been holding Laster back has been his strikeouts. He struck out 200 times last season in his 481 at-bats. The strikeout rate is obviously too high, but if there is any reduction in his swing and misses Laster could be an asset instead of a liability.

Chris Carlson also made his return to the lineup after his stint on the disabled list. He went 2-for-7 with a double, an RBI and two strikeouts. He recovered from his minor leg injury and he even started at first base in the second game. Devin Thomas performed admirably but after the moves this week he was sent to the reserve list.

The most encouraging performance of the week was Matt Hoffman. After Duane Belows promotion to Erie, Hoffman was promoted and made his Florida State League debut. The 20-year-old lefty threw a complete game seven inning shut out to close out the double header.

In Hoffmans seven innings of work he made everyone earn their way on. He allowed just six hits and didn't surrender a free pass. Every time Hoffman incurred any trouble he had his defense to back him up. The Flying Tigers turned three double plays which killed any chance for a rally.

He forced the Tampa Yankee hitters to make contact and hit into the defense recording 13 of the 21 outs on ground balls. Hoffman even struck out four batters, three swinging and one looking. He capped off his masterful performance with a strikeout swinging. Duane Below's void in the starting rotation is a daunting task. If Hoffman can build on his performance in Tampa the Flying Tigers might have found a very capable replacement.

Andrew Hess set the table for the young Matt Hoffman when he opened the double header with a quality start. He pitched a solid six innings to earn his second win of the season. In his six innings of work he allowed only four hits and one walk.

Walks have been few and far between when Hess takes the mound. In his 36 innings of work, Hess has only allowed five free passes. For a contact pitcher like Hess not allowing base runners to get on the easy way is of the upmost importance. With the staring pitching going 13 of the 14 innings of work this week the bullpen has had ample time for rest which could be important in the upcoming weeks. If it can just stop raining long enough to fit a game in.


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