Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Long Island Ducks vs. Somerset Patriots Series Preview: Ducks at the Gates!

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
T.D. Bank Ballpark

Long Island Ducks: Flock Invades Somerset For Showdown Against Patriots.

The Ducks were off on Memorial Day.  The Somerset Patriots played Monday, and the league as a whole is off on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Ducks and Patriots will open a 4-game showdown at TD Bank Ballpark that could very well pave the way towards a first-half title for either team.

It just so happens, with Somerset's Monday loss to York, the Patriots allowed the Ducks to get within 4 games of 1st place.

So, at best, a sweep by the Ducks would put the Liberty Division standings in a tourniquet.  Easier said than done, I know.

Long Island is nonetheless entering the series on a high of sorts.  On Sunday, Prentice Redman stroked the game winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning, plating Cody Puckett for an elating 3-2 victory over the Riversharks.

Moreover, the Flock would need to continue playing inspired baseball until they meet Somerset again over the 4th of July weekend.  That series concludes the regular season's first half, and if all goes well for the Ducks till then, those games could very well decide the all-important First Half champ.

...that is unless Bridgeport or Camden has something to say.

Long Island is presently one of the two hottest teams in the league.  They enter the series with a 17-13 record; they most recently took 3 of 4 games from Camden, and have won 7 of their last 8 games. They had their 6-game winning streak snapped by Camden on Saturday.  Otherwise, the Ducks are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Opposing them, the Somerset Patriots are in fact the league's hottest team.  Despite Monday's loss, they are still 8-2 in their last 10 games.  They successfully invaded York, and exacted a 3-1 series dismantling of the Revolution.

The Somerset Patriots have now won 5 straight series.

Another series victory over the Ducks could conceivably put the division lead out of Long Island's reach.  Of course, it's still relatively early in the first session, but, the Patriots have been playing that well.

Series Preview: A Showdown Between Somerset Pitching Against Long Island Hitting.

What Somerset does, is pitch, and pitch well.  They (once) boasted three starting pitchers with ERA's under two, and a 4th with a 2.23 mark.  As a team, the Patriots lead the league with a 2.08 ERA, while the next closest staff (Southern Maryland) owns a 3.02 mark.  The Ducks are 4th with a 3.50 team ERA.

The Patriots own the league's best average against (.215); the Ducks (.237) are 2nd.  Somerset also owns the league's top WHiP (1.10); Long Island (1.35) is 3rd.

Here are the two biggest disparities:
  1. The Patriots have issued a league low 76 walks, while the Ducks have issued the 2nd most (117).
  2. The Patriots have surrendered a league low 5 home runs, while the Ducks (22) have surrendered the 2nd most.
Is there a bright side?  Long Island pitching leads with 235 strikeouts.  Somerset is last with 161 strikeouts.

I - Somerset Rotation:

The Ducks won't have Mickey Storey to contend with.  He WAS a major component of Somerset's rotation until being gobbled up by the L.A. Dodgers.  He reported to their AA affiliate over the weekend.  In 5 starts for the Patriots, he was dominant with a 4-0 record and a league leading 0.93 ERA.  In 29.0 innings, he allowed a mere 10 hits, 4 walks, and posted 23 strikeouts.  Without him, this is a different Patriots team.

  • Lucas Irvine entered Monday's start against York boasting a 1-3 record, but with a 1.35 ERA.   In 26.2 innings, he previously allowed 21 hits and just 3 walks, and fanned 17 batters.  The Revolution then tagged him for 3 runs in the first 2 innings, and for 4 runs on 9 hits through 4 innings.  He faced 23 batters, walked 3 and fanned 5 batters in earning his 4th loss.
  • Randy Boone is just 1-0 in 5 starts, but with a 1.72 ERA.  In 31.1 innings, he's allowed 22 hits and just 4 walks, with 17 strikeouts.
  • Southpaw Matt Zielinski is yet another who pitches to contact.  He owns a 2.92 ERA after 27.2 innings pitched, in which he's allowed 25 hits, 5 walks, and fanned just 10 batters.  He last pitched on Sunday.
  • Another southpaw, Sean Bierman is a bit of an enigma.  He owns a 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 6 starts.  But, in 32.1 innings, he surrendered 36 hits and 11 walks, while fanning just 13 batters.

The familiar reliever Jon Hunton leads Somerset with 5 saves.  In 9.2 innings, he's been touched for 8 hits, fanned 6 and walked none.  Behind him, however, Kyler Newby, Andrew Carignan, Buddy Boshers, and R.J. Seidel, all help to form a very formidable bullpen.  Prior to Monday, the four   combined on 1.65 ERA over 49 innings, with 43 strikeouts.

II - Ducks Rotation:

Eric Niesen has struggled as a starter this season.  After 6 appearances and 4 starts, his ERA is up at 7.06 off 17 earned runs on 29 hits and 16 walks in only 21.2 innings pitched.  He fanned 23 batters though.
  • However, recently signed (May 19th) Andrew Barbosa is apparently here to step in.  He pitched an introductory 3 innings on May 19th, then tossed 5 solid innings in Long Island's victory on Sunday.   He allowed one earned run on 4 hits, walked none and fanned 4 as part of a no-decision against Camden.
Mark Rogers has endured an equally troubling start to his season.  In 5 starts, he owns a 5.94 ERA after 19.2 innings.  He's walked 13, and fanned 18 batters.

A pitcher giving the Ducks no worries is John Brownell.  He dominated the Lancaster Barnstormers his last time on the hill.

How ever you shake it, Mickey Jannis and Ian Marshall will be this year's difference makers.  If they can stay on the straight and narrow, the Ducks will be in a strong position to challenge, and maybe even win the division flag.

LOOK WHO's NUMBER ONE: The Formidable Flock..

The old adage is good pitching stops good hitting.  To that I say, there's weaknesses in Patriots pitching, and a few mirrors at work as well.

The Long Island Ducks lead the league in hits, runs, OBP, and stolen bases.

They're #2 in total bases, team average, and team slugging, and are tied-4th for home runs.  Somerset has hit the 2nd fewest home runs.

League Batting:
3rd - Lew Ford .353
7th - Aharon Eggleston .329
9th - Chris Marrero .319
10th - Reegie Corona .313

Lew Ford leads the Atlantic League with 11 doubles and 31 RBI.  He is 2nd with 41 hits and 27.9 runs created, and 3rd with a .569 slugging average and in OBP.

Bryan Sabatella leads the league with 24 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases (and has only been caught twice).

The Ducks Jon Griffin and Somerset's Chris Marrero lead their respective teams with 5 home runs.   Marrero also leads the Patriots with 18 RBI, and is 4th in the circuit with 21.5 runs created.   Outfielder Thomas Neil would have to be considered Somerset's next biggest threat at .294, with 2 home runs and 14 RBI.  Mat Gamel came to the Patriots from the Milwaukee Brewers.  He has 9 RBI in his last 3 games.

The Patriots offense has experienced an eruption of late.  They outscored the Revs 25-15 over 4 games.

Monday Update: Revolution 5; Patriots 4
  • Despite putting the tying run on third with 2-outs in the 9th, the Patriots fell 5-4 to the Revolution in the series finale.  They will enter the series against Long Island with a 21-9 record.
  • Second baseman Aharon Eggleston did not play the last two games, after being hit by a pitch in the top of the 7th inning Saturday against York.  He was removed for a defensive substitution in the bottom of the frame.
  • Starter pitcher Lucas Irvine got hammered.
  • Chris Marrero went 1 for 5, and extended his consecutive hitting streak to 14 games.

Should be fun.

Let the games begin!


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