Posted August 29, 2013 03:19 pm

GreenJackets Gameday: Stratton to start in series finale

Thursday, August 29 - 7:05 p.m.


Lexington Legends (35-30, 68-65)

Crawford Simmons (65 IP, 3.05 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 21.8 K%, 9.8 BB%, .260 BABIP)


Augusta GreenJackets (41-23, 79-54)

Chris Stratton (125.1 IP, 3.16 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 22.7 K%, 8.4 BB%, .329 BABIP)


If the GreenJackets hadn't clinched the division title on Wednesday, Chris Stratton would have been a solid backup plan as a starting pitcher.


Stratton continued a good first full season with three runs allowed in 5.1 innings against Lexington last time out. He walked three and struck out two, but he avoided considerable damage in a big game that led to an Augusta win.


Stratton's ground ball percentage is close to 50 with a line drive percentage above 21. He's keeping the ball on the ground but is also leaving his sinking fastball up at times and giving up hard-hit balls. Stratton is able to reach back and use a 94-95 fastball with two strikes or with runners on to avoid trouble, and he continues to show a solid slider.


Crawford Simmons is a Georgia native drafted in the 14th round in 2009 out of Statesboro High School. The 22-year-old has solid numbers in his first full season, although his walk rate is a touch high. His batted-ball numbers are neutral between grounders and fly balls, and he avoids hard contact at the league average. Simmons allowed one run over five innings against the GreenJackets last time out, striking out five.


Lexington center fielder Bubba Starling is riding an eight-game hitting streak in which he's 14 for 35 with three homers and six RBI. Starling is hitting .246/.330/.406 with 13 home runs, .341 wOBA, 112 wRC+ and a 10.3 walk percentage. It has taken Starling most of the season to get on track, but his recent hot streak has been impressive.


It culminated Wednesday with a home run over 400 feet to center field that hit off the left flag pole. Starling shows tremendous bat speed and five-tool athleticism, but the hit tool and pitch recognition have been the big question marks, and they have held him back this season. He picked up a fastball from Augusta's Kendry Flores and crushed it for one of the longest home runs at Lake Olmstead Stadium this year.