Lansing, Michigan. Home of the Lansing Lugnuts. You got to love the club name.
The Lugnuts must also love 6th place (52-62), as they have maintained that overall rank in the standings throughout the season. The first half of the season saw them in the middle of the pack at a 32-37 record. Sadly, this will likely mean that there will be no playoff joy in Lansing from the Midwest League team. Their current second-half standing is 8th (20-25), last place in the Eastern division.
Streaks & Margins:
In July, the Lugnuts had 12 wins and 16 losses, a losing record while the other teams built on their first-half success. Their longest winning streak was in the early part of the month, with two wins at West Michigan against the division-leading Whitecaps and one game over the Great Lakes Loons. Apparently, Lansing likes to do things in threes because they also had lost three straight games twice in the month as well, once just after their winning streak and another the end the month.
The Lugnuts’ biggest margin of victory was eight runs, as they defeated the Lake County Captains 12-4 on the road. The worst margin of defeat was nine runs, losing to the Western division-leading Kane County Cougars 10-1 in Lansing. A few lopsided wins and losses, with many close games in both columns. Not where the club wants to be, but it does show some fight in the little Michigan team.
Players Out & In:
There were a few transactions between Toronto’s other affiliated clubs and the Lugnuts, but most of them were status changes. Of the actual assignments, OF Anthony Alford, LHP Brent Powers, Francisco Gracequi, and Starlyn Suriel came to Lansing to continue their careers in Class-A ball. Highly-touted prospect, RHP Roberto Osuna was sent from the Lugnuts to the GCL Blue Jays for a rehab assignment before being moved again to Dunedin. LF Ian Parmley was assigned to Dunedin in July, but has recently returned. LHP Griffin Murphy and RHP Frank Viola were also sent to Dunedin, but Viola was then released near the end of the month.
The Rotation & The Pen:
As a complete pitching staff, the Lugnuts have logged the fourth most amount of innings in the league; however, as opposed to both league leaders who also are tied for the best ERA at 3.01, Lansing is in 12th place with a 4.10 ERA. Their earned run total is not good, with many of those coming from home runs, which they have the fourth most served to other teams, and walks, which they have the fifth most.
RHP Chase De Jong went 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in July, giving up 33 hits, 17 earned runs, 4 home runs, and 4 walks in 24.2 innings of work. He did strike out 14 batters.
LHP Matt Dermody went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in the same month, giving up 23 hits and only 9 earned runs in 28 innings of work. His strikeout total topped at 19 batters, but he also walked 10 batters. None of those games were starts, even though he started six games in May and four in June. Even though his numbers were much better coming out of the pen, Dermody should see more starts as the season comes to a close.
RHP Brad Allen went 0-3 with a 2.54 ERA. He started all six games in which he appeared, leading to the fact that he could use some more run support next time he is on the mound. What does the guy have to do when he only gives up 8 earned runs while striking out 35 batters? Opposing lineups only hit .259 against him in July.
In eight games, RHP Brady Dragmire had a 1-3 record with a 5.60 ERA and teams hit .315 against him. The remarkable thing was how his numbers keep going up and down. His ERA for April, May, and June were 1.80, 5.28, and 0.59 respectively. In each of those months, he pitched fifteen to seventeen innings. Same sample sizes, very different results. Being strictly a reliever is one thing, being put in a position where you may inherit runners and a batting order that you had no control over, but to be that inconsistent each month does not bode well for the California native. He will need to show baseball brass that April and June are more like who he really is if he wants to move up.
Daniel Klein – the Kansas native played 12 games in July, getting 10 hits, including a double, while striking out 8 times.
Mike Reeves – a good Canadian man from Peterborough, Ontario, who played 19 games in July. With more at-bats than Klein, Reeves earned 12 hits and 10 walks while striking out 10 times.
Both catchers seemed relatively similar in OBP and Reeves only hit four more RBIs than Klein.
Justin Atkinson – hit .245, which was down from his numbers in the first three months of the season. He hit 12 times, including a triple and a double, for 4 RBIs and struck out 10 times.
Matt Dean – the first baseman hit .283 in all 28 games for 19 RBIs, including 5 home runs. The righty from Highland Village, Texas did strike out 23 times while walking only 8 times. Dean seems to want to swing and produce runs.
Jason Leblebijian – in 18 games, the second baseman stayed consistent at a .238 batting average. Leblebijian hit 5 doubles and 1 triple, while stealing 3 bases, letting his speed do the talking. His .329 OBP confirms that he may swing softly but blows by the bases with a decent baseball I.Q. at the plate.
Hitter to Watch – Dawel Lugo
The shortstop hit .298, returning to his form in May where he hit a .327 batting average. He hit 21 RBIs, including 2 home runs, 1 triple, and 5 doubles. Lugo’s slugging percentage (.423) and OPS (.747) make the 19-year-old proof that Toronto did well over the years to keep good relations with ballplayers from the Dominican Republic.
Mitch Nay – being the only official third baseman on the roster, he has also been very consistent and successful with the bat. Nay hit .276 in 27 games, with 9 doubles, 15 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases. Look for Nay to move up if his numbers continue to increase this season, which may require some thinking on who would replace him in Lansing.
Dickie Joe Thon – greatest…name…ever! Imagine R.A. Dickey and Dickie Joe on the same team? Unless things change at the plate, that may never happen. In 22 games, Thon hit a mere .222, with 25 strikeouts. He did hit 6 doubles and 7 RBIs, with 1 stolen base. However, he will need to hit to get on base more often, as his eye for the plate is questionable at the moment.
D.J. Davis – the Lansing center field had a player hitting .158 in 23 games. This will not get it done. Davis hit a double, triple, and home run, while amassing 4 RBIs, 8 walks, and 4 stolen bases. The speed is there to create something, but 26 strikeouts will not help to get that high-octane moving over the base paths.
Chaz Frank – the left fielder from North Carolina played 20 games for a .250 batting average. Frank hit 2 triples and 7 RBIs, while striking out only 8 times. Frank is making contact and now needs it to lead to hits to get him on base, as he stole 5 bases in July.
David Harris – this left fielder played in 22 games for a .210 batting average. This Houston, Texas native hit 2 doubles and 3 home runs in July, while amassing 6 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. The 27 strikeouts did not help.
Derrick Loveless – the right fielder from Solon, Iowa did better than his counterparts in 27 games, hitting a .284 batting average. Loveless hit 5 double, 3 triples, and 2 home runs, while amassing 10 RBIs. He had 25 strikeouts; however, he found a way on base by making better contact, which helped him to steal 3 bases. Speed is great when you are actually on base.
Much of the offensive load seems to be on only a few players to carry, which never bodes well for any baseball team in the majors or the minors. The starting pitching needs to settle down and give their bullpen a chance to rest and save some victories. However, if the bats do not get going in August, there will be no games the Lugnuts can have any chance of winning. They need to stop striking out and find their way on base, even if it isn’t pretty.