Sunday, June 22 - 2 p.m.
Asheville Tourists (44-28)
RHP Konner Wade (2014 A: 70.1 IP, 4.99 ERA, 5.70 FIP, 13.1 K%, 6.7 BB%, .302 BABIP)
Augusta GreenJackets (34-37)
LHP Luis Ysla (2014 A: 56 IP, 2.41 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 21.9 K%, 8.6 BB%, .276 BABIP)
The hitting woes continued for Augusta on Saturday night as the offense went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. The GreenJackets have totaled 27 left on base and are 3 for 25 with runners in scoring position in their first three games of the second half. As I wrote following Saturday's loss, hitting with runners in scoring position is a situational thing. It comes and goes according to randomness, and Augusta is doing a good job giving itself a chance to drive in runs. It's a matter of finding holes in those situations.
Ysla, a 2014 South Atlantic League All-Star, is making his first appearance of the second half after recording a 2.41 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 56 innings over his first 11 starts and 12 total outings.
The lefty is on a very solid stretch. Over his past 47 innings, he has allowed eight earned runs with nine walks to 43 strikeouts. He's throwing strikes at a good clip and avoiding hard contact for the most part. Last time out against Savannah, Ysla allowed one earned and two total runs on two hits in three relief innings, striking out five. He has 20 strikeouts in his past 14 innings spanning three appearances.
Like Saturday's Tourists starter, Alex Balog, Wade has a low strikeout rate but avoids walks. He hasn't been able to avoid extra-base hits, which has raised his ERA. His past two starts have been rough against Kannapolis and Rome, totaling 10 runs in 13 innings.
I wrote the following after Wade's start against Augusta on April 26, when he allowed two runs in six innings:
"Wade was more similar to Asheville's Friday starter, Alex Balog, than I expected. Wade sat high-80s and touched 89, so he didn't have the same fastball as Balog, but he settled in to get more ground balls as the start progressed. Like Balog, Wade's secondaries didn't get a lot of strikeouts, but he commanded pretty well. He's likely a back-end potential with reliever certainty."
***Catcher Eric Sim started behind the plate for Augusta on Saturday, so Ty Ross should be back today. Ross recorded his second three-hit game of the season Friday, going 3 for 4 with a double. His hits have been scattered in June, but he's faring better, hitting .273 with three doubles and three walks in 50 plate appearances.
***The GreenJackets drilled Tourists outfielder Raimel Tapia for the second time this series Saturday. After Augusta starter Keury Mella hit him Friday, causing a chatter and chippy game between the two, Saturday starter Joan Gregorio hit Tapia in the back in his first plate appearance Saturday. Tapia walked around the plate for a minute before taking his base.
Asheville starter Antonio Senzatela threw behind Augusta's Rando Moreno after Tapia's first beaning Friday. Following Tapia's Saturday beaning, Balog threw behind Augusta's Jeremy Sy. The two stared each other down before continuing the at-bat.
Tapia has scored both times he has been hit. For the series, the young Dominican is 4 for 10 with a double, two RBI and two stolen bases. Tapia, ranked 10th in the Colorado Rockies system by Baseball America, has turned it on as of late and is hitting .312/.359/.444 with 20 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases in 276 plate appearances. His season has been highlighted by a five-hit game June 7 that included a home run and four RBI. The homer was a walk-off shot in the 13th inning.
***Rafael Rodriguez went 2 for 3 with a walk Saturday, his seventh multi-hit game this season. The 21-year-old has his best batting average as a GreenJacket in his third trip, entering Sunday with a .245/.296/.302 line. Rodriguez has sacrificed power for the sake of contact, with only four extra-base hits in 115 plate appearances. He's striking out at a 7 percent clip compared to 19.2 percent last year.
***The GreenJackets have produced a better walk-to-strikeout ratio in the Tourists series. They walked and struck out four times each as a team Thursday, followed by two walks and three strikeouts Friday. They walked seven times and struck out eight times Saturday. Their seven walks Saturday was the team's highest total since June 11, when they were issued eight free passes to seven strikeouts.