Wednesday, August 14 - 7:05 p.m.
Greenville Drive (23-25, 45-72)
Cody Kukuk (89 IP, 4.04 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 23.5 K%, 17.2 BB%, .236 BABIP)
Augusta GreenJackets (30-20, 68-51)
Kendry Flores (121.2 IP, 2.81 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 24.1 K%, 3.4 BB%, .270 BABIP)
The Augusta GreenJackets moved into first place with a win and Lexington Legends loss Tuesday night, giving them a half-game lead in the second-half standings. With each win, Augusta improves upon its best record this season. It will be looking for more of the same with a favorable pitching matchup in Game 2 with Greenville.
Kendry Flores takes the mound coming off 8.1 innings against Rome, allowing three runs with six strikeouts. Flores gave the bullpen much-needed rest in the middle of a grueling stretch of games, something that has become common for the right-hander this season.
Flores went on a two-start scoreless streak spanning 13.1 innings before his most recent outing, and he had a stretch of five starts where he recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of them. He has gone at least six innings in each of his past six starts, and at least seven innings in four of those.
Flores' previous high in pro innings for a season is 66, so he is already well above that. How he responds to a near-complete game at this point in the season will be worth watching, but he has proven very durable to this point.
Greenville starts Cody Kukuk, a left-hander drafted in the seventh round in 2011 out of a Kansas high school. The 6-foot-4 20-year-old has a solid strikeout rate, but the numbers suggest troubles keeping the ball in the zone. His very high walk rate will be worth monitoring.
Kukuk hasn't faced the GreenJackets this season. He's coming off six innings against Asheville, allowing five runs on six hits. However, he didn't walk any and struck out seven. Because of his high walk rate, Kukuk has only completed six innings three times out of 20 starts this year.
Kukuk's ERA would likely be much better if he kept the ball in the zone more. He has a very low line drive percentage and keeps the ball on the ground, so walks have probably been the back-breaker more often than not.