EL Playoffs: Trenton Thunder preview

 

Photo courtesy Paul Chaplin / PennLive

Photo courtesy Paul Chaplin / PennLive


Schedule

Game 1: Tuesday 7:05 @ Arm & Hammer Park
Blake Treinen (6-7, 3.64) vs. LH Nik Turley (11-8, 3.88)

Game 2: Wednesday 7:05 @ Arm & Hammer Park
A.J. Cole (4-2, 2.18) vs. RH Bryan Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)

Game 3: Thursday 7:00 @ Metro Bank Park
RH Shane Greene (8-4, 3.18) vs. TBA

Game 4: Friday 7:00 @ Metro Bank Park (if necessary)
RH Mikey O’Brien (7-8, 4.12) vs. TBA

Game 5: Saturday 7:00 @ Metro Bank Park (if necessary)
RH Scottie Allen (2-0, 1.59) vs. TBA

Keep an Eye On…

• On the surface, these two ballclubs are built fairly identical with an abundance of quality pitching bailing out anemic offenses. Across the board, the statistical similarities are astonishing. On-base percentage, total bases, and strikeouts are just some of the categories the two teams are neck and neck in. But one data point has a significant difference and it may play a big part in the series: walks issued by the pitching staffs. Over the 2013 season, Trenton pitchers gave up 597 walks (the most in the EL) while Harrisburg allowed 391 free passes (the least in the EL). The divisional series matchups continued the trend as Trenton issued 19 walks in 28 innings while Harrisburg limited Erie to 9 bases on balls over 38.2 innings. The difference in baserunners may be enough to swing a game or two in the Senators’ favor and ultimately the series.

• The Yankees top two ranked prospects call Trenton home as catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Mason Williams were both promoted from High-A Tampa in August. For Williams, the jump to Double-A has not been an easy one. In 20 games with the Thunder, the outfielder is batting a measly .155, has struck out 21 times, and has only drawn one walk. Williams is a dynamic player, but unless he can slow the game down he leaves a gaping void in the lineup. On the other hand, Sanchez’ offensive production has never been an issue. His problems lie on the defensive side of the ball where he is a subpar receiver at best. With Harrisburg’s aggressive baserunners, Sanchez’ ability to control pitches in the dirt may prove to be a key. So far, he hasn’t shown he can do it consistently.

• Something’s gotta give. The Thunder posted the best home winning percentage in the Eastern League as they were 16 games above .500 at Arm & Hammer Park. The Senators on the other hand have the second-best record on the road (40-30) and play much better away from the not-so-friendly confines of Metro Bank Park. Like all five-game series, the Senators will look to split the first two games to avoid a possible three straight elimination games.

Filibustering the Senators (stats against Harrisburg this season)

Jose Pirela .306/.390/.472, 8 R, 4 RBI, 3 2B, 1 HR
Gary Sanchez .385/.429/.385, 2 R, 1 RBI
Casey Stevenson .333/.500/.333, 1 RBI
Kyle Roller .229/.308/.708, 6 R, 7 RBI, 2 HR

Danny Burawa (0-0, 0,00 ERA) 3 IP, 0.33 WHIP, .000 AVG, 4 K
Tommy Kahnle (0-0 2 Sv, 2.08 ERA) 4.1 IP, 1.39 WHIP, .250 AVG, 7 K
Nik Turley (0-2, 2.19 ERA) 12.1 IP, 0.97 WHIP, .191 AVG, 12 K
Mikey O’Brien (1-0, 3.17 ERA) 5.2 IP, 1.41 WHIP, .292 AVG, 6 K

Muffling the Thunder (stats against Trenton this season)

Steven Souza .500/.583/1.000, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 SB
Justin Bloxom .400/.462/.714, 8 R, 7 RBI, 5 2B, 2 HR
Sean Nicol .385/.471/.577, 4 R, 6 RBI, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB
Billy Burns .462/.533/.462, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB

A.J. Cole (1-0, 0.00 ERA) 6 IP, 1.17 WHIP, .174 AVG, 6 K
Neil Holland (0-0, 0.00 ERA) 2.1 IP, 0.43 WHIP, .125 AVG, 2 K
Richie Mirowski (1-0, 1.93 ERA) 4.2 IP, 0.64 WHIP, .125 AVG, 7 K
Ryan Perry (0-0 1 Sv, 0.00 ERA) 2 IP, 0.00 WHIP, .000 AVG, 4 K

X-Factors

Danny Burawa – Since the All-Star break, the Trenton reliever has been the hottest pitcher in the Eastern League. In 20 appearances, Burawa has allowed only one earned run over 27 innings, struck out 27, and held opponents to a .191 batting average. Maybe even more impressive is that during that time Burawa has allowed only two extra-base hits, and both were doubles.

Billy Burns – No two ways about it, Erie seemed to have Burns’ number. Over eight games In the regular and postseason, the speedy outfielder only hit .194 against the SeaWolves. It definitely was not the same Burns that Senators fans grew to love over the last month of the season when the switch-hitter batted .347 against the rest of the league. If a change of opponent produces the anticipated results, expect Burns to wreak havoc on the basepaths for the entire series against the Thunder.

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