West Mich MLN: First Half Wrap Up

The first half of what has so far been a disappointing season for the West Michigan Whitecaps has come to an end, and, although the record may not show it, the 'Caps may be showing some promise for the second half of the season in a league that rewards second half success separately from first half records.

West Michigan ended the first half with a 26-43 record, putting them in last place in the Eastern division of the Midwest League, eighteen games behind first half division winner Lake County. The Captains barely pulled off getting the first half crown, however, after losing two of three to the 'Caps last week.

It's flashes of success for the Whitecaps such as this one that make it hard to believe that the team has not been able to consistently win. However, it does give hope for a promising second half for the team, with a few players who are starting to heat up, along with players who have been doing well all season.

As far as players who are starting to show what they are capable of in Comstock Park, look no further than 3B Wade Gaynor. Gaynor, who had yet to do anything really special for most of the season, is starting to heat up at the plate. The powerful infielder leads the team in home runs with seven, a statistic that also puts him near the top ten in the Midwest League in the category. His average, although only .269, is significantly better than it was just a month ago. If the 'Caps want any sort of a chance at making a run towards a second half spot in the post season, players like Gaynor and RF Michael Rockett, who has also shown flurries of power at the plate as of late, have to continue to hit the ball well, since other players such as CF Jamie Johnson and 1B Jordan Lennerton, although hitting well, have combined for only four home runs so far this season.

Pitching, although it has been a strong spot for the Whitecaps all season, seems to give an image of inconsistency at the end of the first half. While the team has two All Stars to put on the mound with RHP Jacob Turner (2-3, 3.67) and LHP Giovanni Soto (5-4, 2.05), as well as a very strong reliever in RHP Kenny Faulk (3-3, 3.38), the team has seen its fair share of trouble on the mound, as well.

A month ago, saying that RHP Trevor Feeney (6-6, 3.59) and RHP Ramon Lebron (4-4, 6.31) would be struggling by the time the All Star break arrived would seem a little ridiculous to some. Granted, although Feeney seems as though he has lost a little on the mound over the past month, it may just be because he is the team's workhorse thus far. He currently leads the Midwest League in innings pitched and starts, and is still third in the league in wins while managing a relatively low ERA and striking out 76 on the season, which also leads the team.

Lebron, on the other hand, has been one of the more inconsistent pitchers on the 'Caps staff all season long. Although his potential makes him an above average player, he has yet to really find pitch command on a consistent basis, forcing him to come from behind in a lot of counts. This may be a contributing factor in why we've seen his ERA balloon over the past couple of weeks, and why we've seen him pitch about an inning less in his last couple of starts.

Perhaps the biggest glaring weakness in the starting rotation is LHP Jade Todd (0-8, 5.14) who has yet to really find anything close to what he's looking for on the mound this season. Expect to see Todd lose a few starts to newly-added Whitecap RHP Jared Wesson (1-0, 1.50) and perhaps a reliever or two if manager Joe DePastino deems it necessary.

The West Michigan Whitecaps return from the All Star break with their work cut out for them, as they face first half division winners Lake County six times in nine games, the first three of which come in a home series starting on Friday. The 'Caps then travel to Indiana for a three game series against South Bend before playing three more again the Captains on the road.

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