Team Record: 7-11 (2-4 on the week)
Standing: Fifth in the Northern Division
After four weeks of games for the Connecticut Defenders, they find themselves dwelling near the bottom on the Northern Division of the Eastern League, 9 1/2 games out of first place. As bad as the team has been offensively through the first 18 games, hitting .237/.298/.321, they have had to play 11 of these games against the top two teams in their division.
Coincidentally, these teams (Trenton and New Hampshire) rank No. 1 and No. 3 respectively in team ERA. Whether or not those numbers are skewed because they pitched against the Defenders offense or the Defenders offensive numbers are skewed because of all the great pitching they have faced is the question.
When you see that during the remaining seven games they have played -- all against New Britain -- the offense has put up 5.85 runs per game, you realize that the pitching staffs of New Hampshire and Trenton are really just that good. Given a chance to play against some league average pitching staffs, the Defenders will become at least a moderate hitting team, which will allow them to move up in the standings.
The offense did get a modest boost this week when Travis Ishikawa finally returned from a wrist injury. He shook off some rust with a booming home run in his second game back, a shot that proved to win the game against New Britain. With him back, Eddy Esteve-Martinez seemingly started to swing the bat better and Simon Klink -- who was engaged in a seven-game hitting streak this week -- hitting on all cylinders, it should soon be enough to complement the leagues second best pitching staff based on ERA.
Not to call anybody out, but there are some players who are not helping the offense that should probably not be in on a consistent basis. Trey Webb, who is up in Double-A filling in for injured players, has zero hits in his first 27 at-bats. Normally you can give him a break, saying it is a small sample size, so be it. The problem is: he has struck out in 14 of these at-bats, which might indicate he is completely overmatched by Eastern League pitching. Striking out in more than half of your at-bats is something not even Pat Burrell or Adam Dunn does, and having a K/BB of 14 is something that just nobody does.
Player of the Week: Chris Begg
Begg pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out six to beat New Britain this week. Begg has been the anchor of the staff ever since he forgot about his horrible first start. Since then he has thrown 21 scoreless innings, and during those innings, he has only allowed 15 hits. His sinker has been getting down in the zone and his defense is picking him up by making most, if not all, of the plays on the multiple ground balls he induces per game. During the last three games, the league is hitting only .203 off of him, while Begg has only allowed one walk the entire year. He currently sports a 2.10 ERA, which is Top 10 in the league.
Stat of the Week: 9.67
This is the number of times per game Defenders hitters strike out when they face Trenton pitching. With only two losses on the season and the league best ERA, it's clear that Trenton owns the Northern Division, and with they way their pitching staff is missing bats, they will continue to own the Defenders. The Defenders have a 4.83 K/BB ratio against Trenton while the league average is usually around 2.
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The Defenders offense gets some help with the return of Travis Ishikawa from injury, but unfortunately they had to start the week of with a set against Trenton.
A struggling Defenders offense gets a boost from a familiar face.