From the desk of: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: After All The Rain; Recent Struggles; and Re-Signing Loree; Things Are Looking Bright Again for the Playoffs.
They'll waddle to Southern Maryland for three games, then come home to Bethpage Park for the final series of the regular season and a showdown of sorts versus the Bridgeport Bluefish, in a match up that may very well decide which of the two teams win the Liberty Division's second-half title.
Monday's schedule was light and the Ducks were off. But when the full Atlantic League schedule resumes Tuesday, the Ducks will be leading the Bluefish by a mere half-game for the division lead. In the most recent series between Bridgeport and Long Island, the Bluefish gave the Ducks a taste of second place for a night. But Long Island now seems to have stabilized. They apparently corrected themselves out of a wild tailspin they found themselves in that started back in mid/late August.
Two of the biggest reasons for the recent turn-around no doubt have to be related to A) - the savvy signing of starting pitcher, Josh Banks; and B) - the return of starting pitcher, Mike Loree to the Ducks; with whom he's pitched exceptionally well this season; and matter of fact; dominated the Atlantic League until his contract was sold. In his absence from the Ducks, his work still led the League in all three Triple Crown pitching categories.
With a somewhat formidable one-two punch again; unlike they had after Mike Parisi's contract was likewise sold earlier this season, the Ducks are now playing better overall baseball again while the supporting staff starters have definitely picked up as well. It's the ol' "success breeds success" theory and guys like Mark Diapoulis should benefit.
With six games remaining before the post-season, things couldn't have come together better for Long Island than they have recently with regard to their starting pitching. But on another note, it's imperative the Ducks get a healthy John Rodriguez; who's battled nagging injuries all season; and Ehren Wasserman; recently sidelined; back in time for the playoffs.
The absence of Rodriguez in the clean-up spot leaves a gaping hole in the Ducks' line-up. When not injured, he was leading the League in RBI on two separate occasions. Yet with all the games he's missed this season, he's still fourth in the League in RBI.
And Ehren Wasserman has been nothing short of incredible out of the pen. He leads Ducks' pitchers in appearances and is second in saves behind closer Bubby Buzachero with eleven. In sixty-three innings pitched this season, Ehren struck out sixty-six; walked only twelve; with only fifty-four hits allowed. It's imperative the Ducks get him back healthy and in time for a first round playoff series.