Daisuke Matsuzaka has had a season of ups and downs pitching for the Columbus Clippers and Cleveland Indians. He started the year in spring training hoping to make the major league roster, but was put in the starting rotation for the Columbus Clippers instead. While he struggled at times and has been on the disabled list this season, Matsuzaka has seemed to find his groove and is pitching well.
Over his past two games, Matsuzaka has given up just five hits and two runs, while striking out 12 batters over 14 innings. Over the course of his last 10 games, Matsuzaka has pitched six games where he allowed only one earned run and never pitched less then five innings in any of those starts.
“Daisuke has really been pitching well lately,” Columbus manager Chris Tremie said. “He is throwing the ball well and has been a big part of us getting back into our winning ways.”
Every person in life is going to face challenges and roadblocks at some point in time. The way that you can find out a person’s real character is by seeing how they adjust and adapt to these moments. Vinnie Pestano is currently in one of those moments. Pestano was sent down to Triple-A Columbus on July 30.
“Obviously I would love things to be going different but you can’t control going up and down and roster moves,” Pestano said. “The only thing you can really control is your own attitude and how you are going to come out to the ballpark every day.”
This season has been somewhat of a trying season for Pestano, as he came into the season with great momentum after last season but was unable to capture and use that momentum to find success. After a year where he posted a 2.57 ERA with 24 walks, 76 strikeouts and a crucial 36 holds as the set up man for the Indians, Pestano was set this season to be a key piece of the bullpen. However things did not go his way this season, with his numbers going up in all categories. Pestano saw his ERA balloon to 4.05 with six home runs, compared to just seven all of last year.
Every major league pitcher had that nerve-racking first outing, that first chance to come up to the big league level and leave your mark. While all players dream of having that perfect first outing, sometimes that is not the case, as Matt Langwell showed during his first start as an Indian. On June 1, Langwell came in to pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays and gave up his first major league home run just two pitches into his career, off the bat of Evan Longoria.
“I mean that wasn’t how I wanted to start but honestly I just buckled down and went after the next guy,” Langwell said. “You just have to keep attacking and pitching.”
The good thing about first impressions is that they are only one outing, as Langwell has pitched well since that start, mostly pitching back down in Columbus. During the last month while pitching for the Clippers, Langwell has a 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
When players have to have Tommy John surgery, often times they will ease their way into baseball again and attempt to slowly settle back into the swing of things. Blake Wood however seems to think otherwise, as he has come storming back through the minor leagues this season in an attempt to help the Indians as soon as possible.
After having Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL sustained on May 22 of last season, Wood has pitched his way up through Mahoning Valley, Lake County, Akron and now is pitching in Columbus on the 40-man roster during this season. Over his time in the minor leagues this season, Wood has just a 1.72 ERA with 14 hits, 12 walks and 20 strikeouts over 15.2 innings. During his six games he has pitched so far for the Clippers, Wood has given up just three hits, four walks, no runs while setting down 12 batters on strikes.
The Indians have been a very streaky team this season, with some players being able to have that one-month when they play their best baseball. While most know of Mark Reynolds and his home runs in May or Jason Kipnis and his amazing hitting month of June, Danny Salazar is having a month of July that is nothing short of spectacular. Between his two starts for Triple-A Columbus and his first ever major league start with the Indians, Salazar has pitched 16 innings, allowing only one run, five hits, and two walks while striking out 17 batters and earning a 0.56 ERA.
Salazar’s first start of the month took place on July 1, when the Columbus Clippers went on the road to take on the Durham Bulls. During this game, Salazar went five innings, allowing just two hits, no walks and no runs. Salazar used his defense to get outs, inducing several ground balls. Salazar started the game by giving up a single on a 0-1 pitch but instead of getting rattled, he used two straight 1-2 counts to get ground balls for a fielder’s choice then a tailor made 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
When you look at a shortstop, it is not often you would think about how well that player could do as a pitcher. Shortstop however was exactly where Jerry Gil started his long and unique journey to this point of being the dominant middle relief pitcher he has become for the Columbus Clippers this season. During his first season as a member of the Clippers, Gil has a 4.24 ERA, while posting 40 strikeouts and only 40 hits and 27 walks in 46.2 innings pitched. During his most recent stretch of five games, Gil has thrown five straight scoreless outings, allowing only two hits and a single walk over nine and a third innings.
“I have felt way better throwing my breaking pitch and feel faster with my fastball during my most recent games,” Gil said. “I have found a great comfort zone on the mound. I can control at bats with my fastball, throw in my breaking balls to balance and have done better with all my pitches.”
When looking back at the month of June for the Columbus Clippers, going 8-20 during the month, it is clear that it did not go the way they might have hoped.
It would be easy write the team off as a lost cause but if you dig deeper you see that while the final score of the games might not have gone their way, the Clippers have been hitting the ball well this season, especially as of late. Overall the Clippers had 15 out of their 28 games in June where they had nine or more hits, with seven games of 12 or more hits. To go along with the heavy hitting, the Clippers are also third out of all Triple-A teams in both leagues in walks, drawing 343.
Back in the 2011 season, there was much debate over the three best infield prospects the Indians had in the minor leagues, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall and Cord Phelps. All three were viewed with great potential and hope, creating the …
All minor league players dream of getting that call up to the majors and getting their chance to shine. However for almost all players that doesn’t happen overnight, and the next most important step is that step from the Double-A to the Triple-A level, moving them one step closer to their final goal. Danny Salazar is a starting pitcher who got that important call up to Triple-A Columbus this season from Double-A Akron and has pitched quite well since moving up. Salazar has allowed 26 hits in 24.1 innings, has only 13 earned runs, walked just nine batters while striking out 29.
By Christian Petrila
The Columbus Clippers currently house the MiLB’s greatest collection of “4-A” players.
Definition: Players who always excel in AAA, but never live up to expectations in the Majors.
In fact, there are so many 4-A guys that had they produced well in Cleveland, the Indians’ struggles of late could be a totally different story.
One June 3, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left the game early after limping his way down the baseline. The next day he was placed on the 15 day disabled list and the Indians called up injury fill-in Juan Diaz from Columbus. The injury seemed to call into question among fans not only his value on the field, but his value in the trade market. Many looked to the Indians Minor Leagues and asked who within the organization could replace Cabrera at short. The Tribe is thick with young talent at shortstop at the Minor League level, and among there is almost certainly a couple future Major League players. Three of the Indians top 20 prospects play short, and four of their top 20 prospects play the position. Among all those young players, six have made themselves worthy of note as possible future Indians.
Francisco Lindor is one of the most recognizable names that have come through the Indians system in the last decade. He has sparked hope and excitement in Cleveland’s future, and the hype is not just smoke and mirrors. Drafted 8th overall by the Tribe in 2011 at the age of 17, Lindor has climbed the ranks to debut this season for the Carolina Mudcats, the Indians High A affiliate. The now 19 year old Lindor currently boasts a .299 batting average, a .367 on-base percentage, and a .416 slugging percentage. He looks like the real deal, excelling both offensively and defensively at every level. His skills have earned him the Indians organization top prospect and Baseball America’s 28th best prospect in baseball. He is certainly on the fast track to the Major League level but is still at the very least a year away.
This season has not gone exactly according to plan for Lonnie Chisenhall. Most saw this as his breakout season where he would hit the ground running for the Tribe but that has not been the case. During his time in Cleveland this season, Chisenhall struggled heavily earning only a .213 batting average with just three home runs and 11 RBIs in 26 games played. While some might see these stats and be willing to pass on Chisenhall, his work this season in Columbus proves that would be a poor decision, as he has a batting average of .371 with five runs, 14 RBIs and 23 hits in only 62 at bats during his 15 games at Triple-A.