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.
The wheels came off the train just a bit this week, as the Clippers found themselves coming back home mired in a four-game losing streak. The bats had cooled (only 2.5 runs per game during the losing streak) and the pitching wasn’t getting it done (almost 7 runs per game allowed during the streak). But, as they’ve done much of this young season, the club managed to right the ship [rim shot] and finish the week on a high note winning two in a row to maintain their 3-game lead in the IL West. Let’s take a closer look at the Clippers’ week…
This Week: 3-4
Current Record: 24-15, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
5/11 @ Scranton/WB – Postponed: Rain
5/12 @ Scranton/WB – Clippers 4, Yankees 3; WP Gosling (2-0)
5/12 @ Scranton/WB – Yankees 5, Clippers 3; LP Sowers (1-1)
5/13 @ Scranton/WB – Yankees 7, Clippers 3; LP Gomez (2-3)
5/14 vs. Durham – Bulls 8, Clippers 1; LP Pino (4-2)
5/15 vs. Durham – Bulls 7, Clippers 3; LP Carrasco (2-2)
5/16 vs. Durham – Clippers 5, Bulls 0; WP Tomlin (4-1)
5/17 vs. Durham – Clippers 5, Bulls 1; WP Gosling (3-0)
Well, a lot of juggling this week. First and foremost, today’s big move is that 2B/SS Jason Donald is up in Cleveland to take Asdrubal Cabrera’s spot as ACab is on the DL with a broken forearm. Donald batted ninth today in Tampa for the Tribe. INF Josh Rodriguez came up from Akron to take his place.
It would appear that perhaps RHP Hector Rondon’s start may have had some extenuating circumstances, as he was placed on the DL on 5/13; INF Brian Bixler was activated from the DL to take his spot, and long-time reliever LHP Mike Gosling has taken his spot in the rotation for the time being. Also, Clip Show Favorite Jordan Brown was placed back on the DL as well on 5/14 (retroactive to 5/12), and RHP Vinnie Pestano was recalled from Akron to take his spot.
Also on 5/14 was a bit of a head scratcher for me: the club released LHP Scott Lewis. Lewis had had a lot of success when he was pitching, but just could not stay healthy. The move comes while Lewis was on the DL yet again. Apparently the club has had enough of waiting on Lewis to get healthy.
As we know now, OF Trevor Crowe was called up for the weekend to replace Grady Sizemore while he battles an ankle injury, which leaves the Columbus outfield a bit thin. The Frightener Shelley Duncan has been technically moved to the outfield on a full-time basis.
Finally, on Monday RHP Saul Rivera was traded to Arizona, and RHP Josh Judy was called up from Akron to take his place. Rivera was having a great year for Columbus, but given his age (turned 32 in December) he wasn’t a long-term answer for a rebuilding club.
Also, officially today, LHP Mike Gosling RETIRED (he announced this before last night’s game; my apologies for missing that nugget before publishing this column originally).
OF: Michael Brantley, Jose Constanza, Trevor Crowe, Shelley Duncan
IF: Brian Bixler, Brian Buscher, Jerad Head, Anderson Hernandez, Wes Hodges, Josh Rodriguez
C: Chris Gimenez, Carlos Santana
SP: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, Yohan Pino, Josh Tomlin, TBD
RP: Frank Herrmann (R), Josh Judy (R), Jensen Lewis (R), Vinnie Pastano (R), Joe Smith (R), Jeremy Sowers (L), Jess Todd (R)
5/18 @ Gwinnett, Jeanmar Gomez
5/19 @ Gwinnett, Yohan Pino
5/20 @ Gwinnett, Carlos Carrasco
5/21 @ Gwinnett, Josh Tomlin
5/22 @ Charlotte, Mike Gosling
5/23 @ Charlotte, Jeanmar Gomez
5/24 @ Charlotte, Yohan Pino
*subject to change
Players to Watch:
SPECIAL Thumbs UP:
When I wrote this column initially, I had no idea that this guy was retiring. So, because of that, a well-deserved SPECIAL thumbs-up this week goes to LHP Mike Gosling. On Wednesday, Hector Rondon started the first game of a double-header against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After the third, Rondon was pulled due to his injury, and Gosling took the hill to protect a 3-2 lead. And, protect it he did, earning the win by pitching 3.0 perfect innings of relief, not allowing a baserunner while fanning four. He took Rondon’s spot in the rotation next time around, and started on Monday against Durham. He announced his retirement before the game, so he was going out onto the mound knowing it would be his last time out.
Doing all that was asked—and then some—Gosling worked 6.1 innings, didn’t allow a run, and scattered five hits while walking just one and whiffing five more. Gosling earned the win in both appearances, and what better way to end you career than throwing as long as you can without giving up any runs. On the year, Gosling made 13 appearances (including two starts), and finished 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA across 27.1 innings.
It’s getting to the point now where I might as well give him is own category… call it “Thumbs Up With Big Doofy Grin” or something. C Carlos Santana just keeps hitting. Nine hits in 21 at-bats this week (.429) with FOUR home runs, two doubles (1.095 SLG), and 12 RBI for The Big Smooth (sorry, I held out as long as I could) has his season average back at .333 over 37 games played. His nine homers and 37 RBI lead the club, as do his .461 OBP and .626 SLG (OPS is a staggering 1.087). He literally has nothing to prove with the bat in AAA. The only reasons he’s not in Cleveland is that it’s a rebuilding year and they don’t want to start his service clock.
He’s back to playing full time, and he’s back to hitting. OF Michael Brantley had a good week, with 10 hits in 27 at bats in the leadoff spot (.370). The one knock on Brantley last year in Columbus was his batting average. Well, he seems to have spent some time working on hitting more consistently, as his season average in 20 games thus far in AAA is up to .329. Another aspect that wasn’t horrible but needed work as the leadoff man was his OBP. Again, this year (in large part due to him improve batting average) he has improved that number, pushing his OBP up to .387 thus far. Those are the numbers you want to see from a leadoff man, and don’t forget that he just turned 23 this past week (5/15).
I feel it’s only fair to point out the continued solid play of OF Jose Constanza. The 26-year-old is hardly considered a prospect for the Tribe, and his playing time has been sporadic at best since the return of Michael Brantley to AAA. Now, with Jordan Brown going onto the DL and Trevor Crowe getting called up to the Tribe, Constanza is going to see his playing time increase again. And, he seems to have no drop off despite his recent decreases in PT. He only played in four games this week, but Constanza went 6-for-14 (.429), and in 29 games thus far he’s hitting a blistering .353 (30-for-85) with a homer, two triples, five doubles, and eight RBI. He’s also getting on base at a .409 clip. Not too shabby for a guy not getting consistent playing time.
With all of the struggles in the rotation of late, one guy who continues to shine is RHP Josh Tomlin. The reliever-turned-starter has been the most consistent pitcher in the rotation for quite some time now, and showed no signs of slowing down in his start this week. Tomlin worked 6.0 innings, and didn’t allow a run. He scattered eight hits and walked one while striking out two. Updating from previous columns: the 25-year-old has made eight appearances, five of which have been starts. He’s 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA, but as a starter he’s 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Overall, he has 22 strikeouts against just seven walks, but as a starter that ratio is 18 against three.
It’s almost like I write the same thing every week about RHP Frank Herrmann. The big righty worked two more times this week for a total of 3.1 innings, and didn’t allow a run while scattering three hits and a walk and striking out one. He’s become the best and most reliable bullpen option with the departure of Saul Rivera, and Herrmann has now worked 13 times for 19.1 innings and allowed just one run (ERA 0.46). Opposing hitters are batting .182 off of him.
First, The Call Ups! Both 2B/SS Jason Donald and OF Trevor Crowe weren’t exactly on fire leading up to their call-ups. First, there’s Donald; he was on a 2-for-19 (.105) slide this week after his torrid start, and his season average is down to .277. That potentially has no bearing on his call-up, but it’s important to note that he’s been struggling of late. As for Crowe, his week was in an 0-for-13 slump before heading to Cleveland. He was hitting .244 on the season in Columbus before heading back north.
A bit of a cool-down this week for 1B/3B Wes Hodges. In 25 at-bats, he managed just five hits (.200) with a homer, two RBI, and six strikeouts. Not to fear, though, as Hodges is still hitting .313 with 4 home runs, 23 RBI, and a .854 OPS.
Almost just like Hodges, The Frightener OF/1B Shelley Duncan experienced a period of cooling off this week. He also went 5-for-25 (.200) with only two RBI and six strikeouts. Duncan’s average dipped below .300 (.296), but his 6 homers and 34 RBI on the season are still second on the club… to The Big Smooth.
Another rough outing for RHP Yohan Pino. He took the loss on Friday against Durham by working 6.0 innings and giving up eight runs (six earned; 9.00 ERA). He walked just one, but gave up 10 hits and struck out just one. I was at the game, and it was not pretty. Pino settled in later in the game, but gave up eight runs in the first few innings and could never recover.
Likewise, it was another rough outing for RHP Carlos Carrasco. The righty allowed five hits and walked three in 5.1 innings, surrendering five runs (ERA 8.44) along the way to take the loss on Saturday. He fanned two. In his last three starts spanning 15.1 innings, Carrasco has allowed 11 earned runs (ERA 6.46) with 19 hits and nine walks (WHIP 1.83) against only eight strikeouts.
“Rough” doesn’t even cover it for RHP Jeanmar Gomez this week. On Thursday he worked just 2.2 innings and allowed eight hits while walking four (WHIP 5.14… let that sink in) against just one strikeout. The big number? Gomez allowed seven runs—all earned (ERA 23.63)—to take the loss. Not good times. Gomez is now 2-3 with an ERA of 6.31 on the season covering seven starts.
A Quick [Additional] Word…
…about The Big Smooth. Yes. I’m going there. Use it. Embrace it. Love it.
You know why it’s smooth. Google “Santana Smooth” if you’re either: a) under the age of 15, or b) have living under a rock for the last decade. At the outset of the Clippers’ season, I went to my first game with my fingers and toes crossed that Carlos would come to his senses and just use it as his intro music (alas, as of yet, he has not).
At any rate, as any of you who read this column regularly know, I pride myself on creating the stupidest nicknames for fringe players that I can. But, in this case, I’m not joking. Santana is nothing but smoooooth. He never really slumps. He’s hitting .333. He’s getting on base at a .461 clip. He’s slugging .626. There’s literally nothing he can’t do well. And, once you get to watch him for a bit, you get to see that he just looks… smoooooth. At the plate. Running the bases. Even watching him catch when the starting pitcher is warming up in the bullpen.
He just looks like a natural baseball player. His swings look the same from the left side of the plate and from the right. In a 3-0 count and in a 0-2 count. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t see him swing at bad pitches hardly ever. He hits the ball hard to all fields.
He’s just… smoooooth.
And, so it is. He’s The Big Smooth. As TD pointed out to me, the original “Big Smooth” was the NBA’s Sam Perkins. And while I wasn’t thinking of Big Sam when I coined it above, and with all apologies to him, Carlos Santana is now The Big Smooth.
…after all my talk about home-cooking, the Clippers embark on an 8-game road trip before returning to The Hunt on May 27th. They’re 13-9 at home and 11-6 on the road. This trip could go a long way to helping solidify a lead in the IL West as the dog days of summer get closer and closer.