West Michigan has slipped a bit; now eight games back of Fort Wayne in their division. The week started off pretty good for the ‘Caps, when they won their last two games against South Bend before going on the road. Then, suddenly, they kind of just dropped off. Seven games on the road and West Michigan has only won two. With two more games away, Joe DePastino and gang can't wait to get home.
But there is reason for this mess. Injuries. Yes, a common tale to most teams. So, while the hospital bills stack up, so do the ‘Caps' losses.
Hospital Bill # 1: While Brandon Douglas missed 17 games with a groin injury, he returned last week and has been noticeably seen trying to play through the pain. He's not back on the DL, but the Tigers will make that decision soon. If you ask Douglas, he thinks he could be out longer than some might think.
"I think I'm going to be out until the playoffs," Douglas said.
Unfortunately, that first playoff game won't be until September 9th. That's a lot of baseball to miss. Even when the infielder comes back, he's looking at a few games before he can get his momentum rolling and the rust off. Groin injuries mean a lot of sitting and healing.
Hospital Bill #2: August 5th, Detroit put Bryan Pounds on the disabled list with a foot injury. It's hard to say how long the third baseman will be out for.
Hospital Bill #3: Well, this one has been paid already. Remember the outfielder Chao-Ting Tang? He was the player who was hit in the face on a relay throw back in the first half of the season. Coming off the DL last week—with a couple facial fractures—Tang was assigned to the GCL Tigers Wednesday.
With Douglas possibly going back on the DL, the Tigers reassigned Luis Palacios from Short Season Oneonta. Palacios was sent to Oneonta back on June 15th.
Billy Nowlin is sure having problems finding his rhythm. Before getting two hits August 11th against Drayton, the outfielder went seven games without a single hit. Nowlin was benched August 9th. A move DePastino remarked as "a need."
During this god-awful roadie—so far—‘Caps pitchers have combined for 55 hits and 26 runs. Even Brandon Hamilton, coming off one day's rest to relive, couldn't put a dent in opposing pitchers. West Michigan has averaged four pitchers per game since the start of their road trip on August 7th. The ‘Caps will finish up their season series with Drayton today and tomorrow. Then they will play a short series at home against South Bend before returning to the road… again.
From this mess of a road trip, there is some good. Gustavo Nunez is back to his old ways. He has found a way to get on base in each of the ‘Caps' road games this past week. August 10th against the Loons, DePastino shook things up in the lineup and put Nunez in the popular three-spot, where he provided a hit and two runs. His average stays pretty consistent between .310 and .315, but he still lacks the full-on power to stay at that spot in the lineup.
As we are almost halfway through August, West Michigan is looking like a .500 team at best. If the injuries smooth and the rotation starters find a way to go 5+ innings, then we can talk playoffs again.