The All Star Break is here and all is quiet here in Louisville. Most Bats players and coaches are home with their families while Dioner Navarro is in Buffalo enjoying the spoils of being selected to represent the Bats in the Triple-A All Star Game. Time to get you updated on everything Bats related with a special Bats Midseason Notebook.
Frustrating first half
The first half of the season for the Bats was marked by their inability to win three or more games in a row. Their torrid nine game win streak from June 18-26 is the lone exception. That win streak included back to back four-game sweeps of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Pawtucket Red Sox. Problem is, the Bats have since lost ten of their next twelve and head into the break with a 33-59 record.
Revolving door of players
A root cause of the Bats’ struggles this season has, without a doubt, been the revolving door that is the Bats’ roster. Of the 25 players on the Bats’ opening day roster, 17 of them have been hurt, recalled to Cincinnati, or released outright since the beginning of the season. Just 14 of the original 25 are currently on the Bats active roster.
The Bats have also been plagued by the injury bug. To date, the Bats have had 14 injury related transactions since the start of the season, or about one every week. That doesn’t include Kristopher Negron, who will be transferred to the disabled list by the end of the All Star Break. Negron was injured in the Bats’ 7-5 win July 5. While no official prognosis has been given, Negron is on crutches and injury has been to be very serious.
Navarro the All Star
Despite starting the season 0-for-19 at the plate and spending time on the bench with separate injuries, Dioner Navarro has impressed this season with the Bats. Navarro is hitting .335 with three homers, nine doubles, and 21 RBIs. If he qualified, Navarro would lead the Bats in hitting. Navarro was red hot in June, hitting .419 with three doubles, two homers, and 8 RBIs in 18 games played. Because of his injuries, he has played in just 49 of 92 games this season. Navarro has also been stellar behind the plate, throwing out 21 of 54 would-be base stealers, a 38.9% clip.
New comers shine
Louisville has had plenty of new faces come through Louisville Slugger Field this season. Some of these young stars have shined brightly since joining the Bats. Here’s a look at a few:
Right hander Pedro Villarreal joined the Bats May 5 after starting six games in Pensacola earning a record of 1-2. Though Villarreal is just 2-6 in 12 starts for Louisville, he has an ERA of just 3.96. Since winning his first two decisions with Lousiville, Villarreal has lost six straight. In his most recent start, Saturday, he went six innings giving up just one run on four hits while striking out a season high eight. Problem was, the Bats were shut out and Villarreal took the loss. In his last nine starts, the Bats have scored just 37 total runs and are 1-8 in those games. Villarreal has been very good for the Bats this year, despite what his record says.
Cody Puckett was the next to join the Bats, on May 16. Puckett has struggled offensively with the Bats, sporting a batting average of just .233 with five doubles, one triple, and two homers to go along with 20 RBIs in 48 games. He did have a nine game hitting streak that coincided with the Bats’ winning streak but hasn’t done much other than that. Despite his struggles at the plate, Puckett has been outstanding in the field this season and has made some terrific plays with the glove.
Next up is left hander Donnie Joseph. Joseph has been nothing less of outstanding for the Bats. In ten games, the Texan, has given up just four runs on thirteen hits and has picked up four saves. Before coming to Louisville, Joseph was 4-2 with 13 saves in 26 games with Pensacola. Overall, Joseph is 6-2 with 17 saves and a 1.24 ERA. If he keeps this up after the break, Joseph will likely be considered for minor league pitcher of the year for the Cincinnati Reds.
Last, but not least, we have Henry Rodriguez. Standing just 5’ 10, Rodriguez was having a terrific season in Pensacola before an injury. After five games with the Arizona League Reds, Rodriguez was promoted to Louisville. He made his first career Triple-A start on July 5 and did not disappoint, going 3-for-5 with a game-winning two-run home run in the eighth inning. Rodriguez is a third baseman by trade but can play second, short, and some outfield. Rodriguez has been a nice addition and, if his bat comes to life, he could find himself wearing red sooner than later.
Perez heating up
Outfielder Felix Perez didn’t get off to the best of starts this season with the Bats. In April and May combined, Perez hit just .230 with four doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs. Since then, Perez has caught fire at the plate. In 32 combined games in June and July, the 27 year-old has hit .336 with eleven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. Perez has hit safely in 23 of his last 32 games. Recently, though, Perez came up limp while running the bases and was placed on the disabled list July 4. However, it is not feared to be a serious injury and Perez should be able to return to the field by Saturday or Sunday.
Janish cooling off
Paul Janish is one of the Bats who has been blatantly plagued by the injury bug this season. After hitting .315 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers, and four RBIs in 23 April games, Janish suffered a broken wrist and spent the entire month of May on the disabled list. Since being activated June 14 (43 days on DL), Janish is hitting just .170 (15-for-88) with five doubles, two homers, and five RBIs. Janish enters the break with an overall batting average of .236 with just nine total RBIs. Hopefully, Janish can get back to his April form in the second half.
Tomko best winless pitcher in baseball
Another injury bug combatant is right hander Brett Tomko. Not only has Tomko battled a pair of injuries, he has also been the recipient of some terribly bad luck. After losing his first outing of the season, Tomko was placed on the disabled list with right abductor spasms. Tomko came back April 14 and pitched great. In nine starts, Tomko gave up two or fewer runs in eight of them. Six of Tomko’s seven previous starts have been quality starts and he has yet to give up more than three runs in any start this season and he has an ERA of 3.14. But, Brett Tomko is 0-6. The Bats have scored just 20 runs in his ten starts and are 2-8 in them. Tomko’s last start came May 30. In that game, which the Bats lost 2-1, he suffered an injury to his shoulder and was placed on the DL June 1, where he has been since. Tomko is set to return to the rotation after the break when he will go for his first win of the season.
Outfielder Denis Phipps made headlines last season, hitting .346 with 34 doubles, seven triples, twelve homers, and 64 RBIs in 122 games between Carolina and Louisville. This season has been a major letdown for Phipps. In 46 games with the Bats, Phipps is hitting just .157 with seven doubles, five homers, and 20 RBIs. Phipps has also battled the injury bug, spending the second half of May and the entire month of June on the DL with a shoulder injury after making a diving catch in a game May 15. Phipps was supposed to be an offensive leader this season. He has been anything but; however, Phipps is streaky and could get going at any time.
Just before the season started, the Reds traded Juan Francisco to the Atlanta Braves for right hander JJ Hoover. In eight games in April, Hoover picked up four saves and gave up just four runs, in nine innings of work while striking out 17 and walking just six. Hoover was recalled by the Reds April 24 and pitched 18 innings in 17 games with the big league club giving up just six runs on 11 hits while striking out 19 and walking eight. Hoover returned to the Bats June 24 and has impressed still. On July 2, Hoover pitched two scoreless frames and on July 5, he pitched 2-1/3 scoreless innings while picking up the win. In 14 games with Louisville, Hoover is 3-0 with four saves and a 1.53 ERA. In 17-2/3 innings, Hoover has struck out 25 and walked only seven.
The road ahead
After three days off for the All Star Break, the Bats reconvene in Louisville Thursday to open a four game series with the Gwinnett Braves. The Bats are on their way to the worst record since the 1991 Louisville Redbirds finished 51-92. To avoid losing 100 games, the Bats must win at least 12 of their next 52 games. The last time a Louisville team lost 100 games was 1957 when the team was 49-105.
And that’s your Louisville Bats Midseason Report. For all the latest Bats new, be sure to follow me on Twitter @kevingeary10.