So what happened in the playoffs? Maybe I over managed the pitching rotation by looking too much at home and away records which moved my ace to the third start of the series. That may have put too much stress on the 22 year old hurlers who started game one and two. The bigger disappointment was lack of hitting, for a team that lead the league in runs scored. So hats off to the pitching that stopped my hitters.
It is not surprising that this is my best rotation ever. I had four starters win between 13 and 16 games each and the fifth spot was over .500. The bull pen converted 55 of 68 save opportunities. Nunez allowed zero of thirty-three inherited runners to score! All that success brought pitching coach Brian Peterson a $1.3M raise. Good thing I am printing greenbacks in the back room. There was a franchise record six All-Stars.
On to Season 16
The core of the rotation is in tact; Paul Hayashi, Santiago Silva, Jamie Bradley and Esteban Calles return. Hayashi is the franchise leader in career wins at 114. In Season 15 he tied his season win high at 16 and had his second lowest ERA. Silva had the breakout year of his career with 15 wins, after going a combined 11-18 the two prior years. He has a new three-year contract. Bradley, the number 6 pick of Season 11, went 13-7 in his third big league season with a career low 1.28 WHIP. He is 23 years old with 32 major league wins. Calles was Season 11 International Free Agent from Dominica. He went 16-8 in his second season in the majors.
Rookie Fernando Soriano won the fifth spot in spring training. He was 15-9 at AAA last year and had success as a September call-up with a 1.09 WHIP in 23 IP. He throws a nasty sinker and keeps batters off balance with an above average fast ball.
The closer and setup relievers all are returning. Rip Robinson saved 33 of 38 games. Set up man, Lou O’Brien, lowered his ERA to 3.30 from the prior year’s 4.35. Rookie Billy Bush owned the 7th inning with a 3.29 ERA. The long relievers are Hayes Griffin, Domingo Vasquez and rookie Jerry McMurtry. Griffin, age 27, has 60 major league starts, so he could be the swing man if needed. He had a career best 1.30 WHIP. Vasquez is a fourth year pro and appeared in 17 major league games last year. McMurtry is a ground ball pitcher who gets the ball to plate quickly.
Gone from the every day players is shortstop Danny Carlson. He had a career year at the plate and cashed in on free agency. The plus from that will be the 28th and 34th picks in the draft this summer.
On to the position players: Third baseman Terry Sturtze led the team in RBI’s and collected a gold glove for his mantle. Stan Lee moved to first base and made 10 plus plays. He had 96 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases. Brian Winston became the full-time right fielder and had career highs in home runs and RBIs and also had 13 assists. Catcher Jimmie Franco had his usual 1+ OPS season and improved his team’s ERA for the fourth consecutive year. The ageless one, Garrett Stewart, had his fifth consecutive.300+ season average. Second baseman Nate Cochrane is the catalyst of the offense. He had 72 stolen bases. Rookie Russell Steinbach will patrol right field. He has potential to be a five tool player. He has excellent range and a rifle for an arm. Rookie Victor O’Donnell is slated to start at shortstop. He is a defensive specialist with an AAA Gold Glove and has some pop to his bat. The Maintaineers should have even more double plays this year than last year.
In summary, this team is young, talented and exciting to watch. To quote Bum Phillips, “We are gonna kick in the door to the playoffs.”