From the desk of: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: A Ripple in the Pond or a Tidal Wave of Trouble?
As July winds down and I settle in for the second half of the season, the first half Champion Ducks are already 14 games into the tail end with a match against the Lancaster Barnstormers tonight in game two of a three game series; kicking off a six game home stand at Bethpage Park.
The Ducks are 9-4 in their first 13 second half games. But that places them behind a suddenly hot Camden River Sharks in the Liberty Division, who have started 11-3 thus far. Long Island is still the overall Atlantic League leader with a 49-27 record.
The biggest concern for the Ducks moving forward has to be the purchase of Atlantic League All-Star, Mike Parisi's contract by the L.A. Dodgers. He and Mike Loree combined to create a formidable one-two punch at the top of the starting rotation for Long Island. Parisi still ranks among the League leaders in strikeouts and ERA even 10 days after his acquisition by the Dodgers.
While I for one don't think Camden will keep up their recent play, and think South Maryland will still continue to pester Long Island in the division, the Ducks continued winning hints they will survive Parisi's departure.
I say not so fast. Come playoff time, everything changes. We all know that. But I think the York Revolution may have a clear edge in starting pitching now. Of course time will tell.
Veteran hurler, Shane Youman however, has stepped in marvelously for Long Island since his Ducks' debut on June 8th. He easily won the the third spot in the rotation prior to Parisi's departure. He has appeared in eleven games thus far and started five. While compiling a 5-1 record, he's done it sustaining a very low 0.87 ERA.
Tonight's starter for Long Island is Joselo Diaz. Much more is needed from him. He's struggled all season and is currently sporting an ERA above the 6.00 mark. Between him, Mark Diapoulis, Heath Phillips, and Ruddy Lugo, the Ducks must hope they will be enough to get through a short series.
I'm afraid the loss of Mike Parisi is very compromising to the Ducks' post-season picture. Long Island GM Michael Pfaff has a lot of work ahead of him trying to sure-up his starting rotation before September's playoffs roll around.
The Ducks' potent offense is now required to remain just that; potent. Once teams face the Ducks' fourth and fifth starters of this rotation, the Long Islanders will most likely have to slug their way through them.
The loss of Parisi also alters the way Coach Baez utilizes his (very solid) bullpen now. Clearly, they will be handling a bit of a larger load. They will be called upon more often without that solid one-two punch Loree and Parisi provided..., and giving the Pen a night off from time to time.
While the good times are rolling in Bethpage Park this season with a first half championship in their back pockets, the Ducks have officially entered a very interesting portion of the season.
NOTE: The Long Island Ducks' 5,000,000th fan will pass through the turnstiles for a game during this home stand.