Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Check back each Tuesday afternoon for team records, roster updates, and performance updates on some of the brightest prospects in the Tribe system.
What a difference a year makes. The Clippers were pretty dreadful for most of last season. But, while I know it’s still very, very early, this year’s squad looks like a completely different animal. A couple of nice winning streaks this week put the Clippers into an early first-place spot in their four-team division. Let’s take a closer look at the Clippers’ week…
This Week: 5-2
Current Record: 8-4, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
4/13 vs. Louisville – Clippers 4, Bats 3; WP Rivera (1-0)
4/14 vs. Toledo – Clippers 3, Mud Hens 2; WP Gosling (1-0)
4/15 vs. Toledo – Mud Hens 6, Clippers 3; LP Gomez (0-1)
4/16 @ Louisville – Postponed, rain
4/17 @ Louisville – Clippers 3, Bats 1; WP Pino (2-0)
4/18 @ Louisville (4/16 make-up) – Clippers 6, Bats 4; WP Lewis (2-0)
4/18 @ Louisville – Clippers 3, Bats 0; WP Herrmann (1-0)
4/19 @ Louisville – Bats 8, Clippers 2; LP Carrasco (1-1)
Well, some roster moves this week, mostly centering around Jeremy Sowers and Russell Branyan. Sowers came to Columbus on 4/13 as we reported last week and pushed Yohan Pino back to Mahoning Valley. That was short-lived, as now Sowers is in Mahoning Valley as of 4/16 and Pino is back in Columbus. Big Russ Branyan was sent to Akron on 4/16 as well to continue his rehab assignment as the Clippers headed out on the road, and as TD reported yesterday Branyan is heading back to Cleveland which means OF Michael Brantley comes back to Columbus. To make room for Brantley, OF Brian Horwitz was released. Finally, OF Jerad Head was sent to Akron, though he is currently on the DL.
OF: Michael Brantley, Jose Constanza, Trevor Crowe, Chris Giminez
IF: Brian Bixler, Brian Buscher, Jason Donald, Shelley Duncan, Wes Hodges, Anderson Hernandez
C: Damaso Espino, Carlos Santana
SP: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, Scott Lewis, Yohan Pino, Hector Rondon
RP: Hector Ambriz (MLR, R), Mike Gosling (L), Frank Herrmann (R), Saul Rivera (R), Carlton Smith (R), Jess Todd (R), Josh Tomlin (R), Steven Wright (R)
The Clippers are getting it done with their bats thus far. They lead the IL in team batting average (.293), team OBP (.368), team slugging (.469), and therefore team OPS (.837). They also lead the league with 67 RBI, 29 doubles, and fewest strikeouts (61). In addition, they are second in the league in runs scored (70), home runs (12) and are tied for second in walks (48). However, it’s important to note that they scored 41 of those runs in the first four games, so that also means they’ve only plated 29 in their last eight games, which is less than four per game. They need to make sure that doesn’t become the norm.
Their pitching (which I assumed would be a strength early on) has been middle of the road so far; they’re fifth-worst in the league in ERA (4.15), have given up the fourth-most hits in the league (101), are tied for third-most walks issues (45), and are fourth-worst in overall WHIP (1.40). They’re also tied for fourth-worst in earned-runs allowed (48). The one saving grace has been that they’re third-best in the league in striking out opposing hitters, with 96 Ks through the first 12 games.
4/20 @ Indianapolis, Hector Rondon
4/21 @ Indianapolis, Jeanmar Gomez
4/22 @ Toledo, Yohan Pino
4/23 @ Toledo, Scott Lewis
4/24 @ Toledo, Carlos Carrasco
4/25 vs. Toledo, Hector Rondon
4/26 vs. Toledo, Jeanmar Gomez
*subject to change
Players to Watch:
I almost feel bad for C Carlos Santana. All he did was go 6-for-20 in six games (.300) and his average dropped 75 points. He drove in six more runs this week, walked four more times, and struck out only three times. His slugging dipped, with only one extra base hit (a double). That’s not to say it’s still not an impressive .750 on the season… Overall, Santana is still hitting .375 in 11 games (15-for-40) with four homers, 14 RBI, and a 1.207 OPS.
Another guy who is locked in right now at the plate is OF Trevor Crowe. After finishing strong in 2009, Crowe has picked right up where he left off in AAA. This week he smacked eight hits in 23 at bats (.348) and drew three walks (.423 OBP). So far for the year he’s off to a 14-for-45 start at the dish (.311) with a home run and six RBI out of the leadoff spot. It will be interesting to see how his role might change with Michael Brantley coming back.
And, while my preferences for Santana are fairly obvious, one could argue that the best hitter on the team has been OF Jose Constanza. The 26-year-old has been on a tear to start the year, going 9-for-18 this week (.500) with five runs scored. He’s batting at the bottom of the lineup, but is hitting 15-for-32 (.469) in 10 games thus far for the Clippers, and has a nine game hitting streak working. He’s been playing mostly in center field, so he, too, may see his playing time diminish with the return of Michael Brantley.
It was nice to see a bounce-back from RHP Hector Rondon this week. After a rocky outing in his first start of the year, Rondon came back with a solid start this week despite a no-decision. He worked 6.0 innings and allowed just one earned run (1.50 ERA). He walked only two against five strikeouts, and allowed just five hits (1.17 WHIP).
RHP Carlos Carrasco had a pretty solid week with two starts. Though he notched a no-decision and a loss, the stats were solid. He worked 11.2 innings, and allowed just three earned runs (2.31 ERA). He scattered only seven hits in that stretch and struck out 11. The one downer was that he did walk eight guys after walking just one in his first start of the season. His WHIP this week was 1.29.
Despite being bounced between Columbus and Mahoning Valley last week, RHP Yohan Pino has continued to be solid. The 26-year-old threw 7.0 innings of shut-out ball this week, scattering four hits and walking only one while striking out six. For the year, Pino has made two starts, is 2-0, and has allowed just two earned runs in 12.0 innings (1.50 ERA) while walking two and striking out 11. He’s allowed 10 hits (1.00 WHIP), and opposing hitters are batting just .217 off of him.
RHP Frank Herrmann looks to follow up on a solid 2009 campaign, and thus far has done a decent enough job. He had a good week in his two appearances, working 2.2 innings and allowing no runs. This runs his total on the year to four appearances, 6.0 IP, and only one earned run allowed (1.50 ERA). He’s allowed five hits and walked three (1.33 WHIP) whilst fanning three.
Considering that I dogged on him last week, fair is fair. C/OF Chris Giminez continued his scuffling through all of regulation (0-for his first 4) last Tuesday after I called him out, but he also notched a walk-off winner for the Clippers with a home run in the bottom of the 10th that night. And, since that at-bat 6-for-16 (.375) at the plate with two homers and three RBIs.
I’ve coined another one of my “nobody else really cares” nicknames for a Clippers player. This time it’s for 1B/OF Shelley Duncan—whom I pointed out last week looks to me like Jake Busey’s Twin Brother. Duncan stands 6’5” / 225# and is an imposing figure at the plate. Sadly, he’s not hitting. He’s 7-for-37 so far in 11 games (.189), is slugging .270 (one home run, and 10 total bases in 37 ABs). He does draw walks from time to time (eight in 11 games) to keep his OBP at .340. But, with all of those stats combined with his size and facial structure, I’ve decided from now on that he will be henceforth known in these parts as The Frightener. Look it up.
Thumbs Sideways (?)
I’m going to give P Jeanmar Gomez the benefit of the doubt for this start this week. He retired nine of the first 11 he faced, allowing only a lead-off single in the first (followed up by a double-play) and then a 2-out walk in the first inning. He then set down seven in a row. In the fourth, he was the victim of a Wes Hodges error and allowed a run (though it was technically an earned run). It was in the fifth inning that he fell apart, when after retiring the leadoff man he allowed a single, two doubles, and a homer (in that order) to surrender four more runs. He then finished the side, and then pitched around a walk and a single to lead off the sixth by getting another double play and a ground out to end his outing. So, it was 6.0 innings, 5 ER (7.50 ERA), and nine hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.
It was a ho-hum start on Saturday for LHP Scott Lewis. He worked 6.0 innings, but allowed three earned runs. Technically a quality start, but without 3 runs in the top of the 5th innings from his offense he would have been on the hook for the loss as he surrendered two runs in the bottom of the fifth and the game went only seven innings. Lewis wasn’t able to strike out the Bats this time around (first outing = 10 Ks, this one = 3), but he did scatter only four hits and walk only one (0.83 WHIP). The problem was that three of the four hits were a homer in the first, and a single and double to lead off the fifth.
De facto closer RHP Saul Rivera has been a consistent late-game option out of the pen. He has two of the team’s four saves thus far, and in three appearances this week he worked 4.0 innings, allowed just one run (2.25 ERA), but earned a win and two saves in those appearances. This runs his total on the year to five appearances, 6.0 IP, and only one earned run allowed (1.50 ERA). He’s allowed three hits and walked five (1.33 WHIP) and has struck out two hitters. The down side? He’s my age, having just turned 32 last December.
I left RHP Jess Todd off of last week’s report mistakenly. He got off to a rough start in his first two outings, allowing three runs—only two earned—in his first two innings pitched on five hits. This week he worked twice more (2.0 IP) and allowed just one hit; it was, however, a home run. He also earned a save this week in game 1 of the 4/18 double-header, which ended up being a seven-inning game. He has only walked one on the year so far (1.75 WHIP) and has struck out five total. His ERA sits currently at 6.75.
A Quick [Additional] Word…
…about Yohan Pino. You may remember him as the guy the Tribe picked up for Carl Pavano in a trade last year from the Twins. He’s old for a prospect at 26, but he has been solid so far for the Clippers. This is his third season in AAA ball, so he may never be more than a AAAA pitcher, but he’s made four starts for the Clippers (two last year, two this year), and is 4-0 in those starts. He’s allowed just four earned runs in those starts (1.38 ERA) while walking just four against 25 strikeouts.
Pino has pitched in every level, and has an overall record of 47-21 with a 3.17 ERA across all of his stops. He’s started 70 of the 152 games in which he’s appeared, and tossed a no-hitter on June 30, 2007 while pitching for Fort Myers (the high-A ball affiliate for the Twins).
He’s been arguably the Clippers’ best pitcher thus far, and it will be interesting to see how he continues to work for Columbus and if he might ever get a shot if someone trips up in Cleveland. Though, now that I’ve profiled him, he becomes the pitching equivilent of Jordan Brown, most likely.
…the Clippers return home after their first road trip of the year this coming Sunday. They will have been out on the road nine games spanning nine days. They open up quite a lengthy home-stand, with 10 more at home through May 4th. That means that 18 of their first 27 games will have been at home. That’s nice right now, but it will even up later in the season.