Thursday, July 18 - 7:05 p.m.
Lakewood BlueClaws (12-14, 38-55)
Jonathan Musser (48.1 IP, 5.21 ERA, 5.74 FIP, 13.7 K%, 10.1 BB%, .304 BABIP)
Augusta GreenJackets (11-12, 49-43)
Joan Gregorio (53.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 2.31 FIP, 29 K%, 5.5 BB%, .341 BABIP)
Joan Gregorio has the biggest ERA-FIP difference in the GreenJackets rotation, a sign of some bad luck with a .341 BABIP. But dig a little deeper and you'll find a 24.8 percent line drive rate, well above the average for hard contact allowed. He gives up a low amount of ground balls per start, and it has led to more extra-base hits allowed over his past few outings.
The streak Gregorio was on at the beginning of the season was unsustainable, and regression hit in mid-June with an increase in missed spots and poorer command. Gregorio lives off his command and establishing a good fastball early, and anything less means hard contact in the air.
Gregorio did post a better effort at Savannah last time out, allowing one run on four hits in six innings July 11, allowing two walks and striking out nine. It was the second-highest strikeout total for the right-hander this season. He will face Lakewood for the first time in his career.
Jonathan Musser was drafted in the 21st round in 2010 out of an Iowa high school. His 5.21 ERA is his lowest as a pro spanning three seasons after posting ERA's of 6.44 and 6.91 in rookie and short-season ball.
Musser is a big right-hander at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, but he needs to start turning things in his favor at 21 years old. He gives up quite a few fly balls and walks, and struggles stranding runners, so the GreenJackets need to keep plugging away when they get on base.
The GreenJackets staff is facing a unique test in this series, as Lakewood is throwing out tons of left-handed batters. The BlueClaws started eight lefties in the lineup Wednesday and should have a similar number in the final two games of the series. It affected Augusta starter Kendry Flores to some extent, as he nibbled more than usual and wasn't as aggressive. But Flores maintained his control and struck out 10 in six innings. Gregorio should try to follow a similar game plan.