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.
Definitely a solid bounce-back from a lack-luster week last week. The Clippers—even if it was because of decreased competition—took a nice step forward again this week, pulling into a 2.5 game lead in their division. That’s not to say everything is perfect; there’s still cause for concern on the pitching staff. But, for right now at least, the Clippers are doing what it takes to win most nights, and compared to their Major League parent club it’s nice to see. Let’s take a closer look at the Clippers’ week…
This Week: 5-2
Current Record: 16-10, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
4/27 vs. Charlotte – Clippers 12, Knights 7; WP Pino (3-0)
4/28 vs. Charlotte – Clippers 4, Knights 2; WP Tomlin (2-1)
4/29 vs. Charlotte – Clippers 9, Knights 7; WP Todd (1-1)
4/30 vs. Charlotte – Knights 9, Clippers 2; LP Rondon (0-3)
5/1 vs. Syracuse – Clippers 13, Chiefs 2; WP Gomez (2-2)
5/2 vs. Syracuse – Clippers 6, Chiefs 3; WP Pino (4-0)
5/3 vs. Syracuse – Chiefs 6, Clippers 4; LP Smith (0-1)
 Carlos Carrasco was scratched from his start today (5/4). We suspected it might be for a call-up or a trade, and when I received a note about today’s game from the director of media relations from the Clippers, the following exchange took place:
DP: Heard that Carrasco was being scratched… any truth there?
AS: He was. I’m not really at liberty to say anything, but I can tell you that he wasn’t injured.
So, there that is. Look for Carrasco to be on the move *somewhere* in the near-term. [end edit]
Here come the roster moves! First off, LHP Scott Lewis went back on the disabled list, which is really a shame. (Now officially a) journeyman LHP Jeremy Sowers was recalled from Mahoning Valley to take his spot, though Josh Tomlin has been starting in the rotation in place of Lewis. Finally! My boy OF Jordan Brown came off the disabled list, and backup catcher Damaso Espino was sent down to Mahoning Valley to make room; Chris Gimenez moves back to the backup catcher role, at least on the roster. RHP Hector Ambriz ended his minor league rehab assignment, and on 5/1, Joe Smith was optioned down from Cleveland, and reliever Steven Wright was sent to Akron to make room. And today, utility man Brian Bixler was placed on the DL retro to 4/30, and utility man Jerad Head was called up from Akron to take his spot.
OF: Michael Brantley, Jordan Brown, Jose Constanza, Trevor Crowe
IF: Brian Buscher, Jason Donald, Shelley Duncan, Jerad Head, Wes Hodges, Anderson Hernandez
C: Chris Gimenez, Carlos Santana
SP: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, Yohan Pino, Hector Rondon, Josh Tomlin
RP: Mike Gosling (L), Frank Herrmann (R), Saul Rivera (R), Carlton Smith (R), Joe Smith (R), Jeremy Sowers (L), Jess Todd (R)
5/4 vs. Syracuse, Carlos Carrasco
5/6 @ Lehigh Valley, Hector Rondon
5/7 @ Lehigh Valley, Jeanmar Gomez
5/8 @ Lehigh Valley, Yohan Pino
5/9 @ Lehigh Valley, Josh Tomlin
5/10 @ Scranton/WB, Carlos Carrasco
*subject to change
Players to Watch:
I’m not sure why he only saw action in five of the seven games, because OF Michael Brantley was flat-out on fire. In 21 at-bats he registered nine hits (.429) including a triple, he walked twice (OBP .478), stole a base, and scored seven runs. Brantley should be playing everyday, as he’s settled into the lead-off spot very nicely since coming back to Columbus.
One guy who may be knocking on the door is 2B/SS Jason Donald. Jacob highlighted Donald over the weekend, and with the struggles of Sweet Luis Valbuena it may make sense to give Donald a chance in Cleveland if he continues to hit. Donald is playing every day, and has really turned it on at the plate. In 23 at-bats, he had 11 hits (.478) to raise his average to .333 on the season. He had another homer, seven RBI, scored eight runs, walked seven times (OBP .600), and even stole a couple of bases. On the season, he has an OPS of .963! At second base!! It may be time for Sweet Luis to take a seat.
With the return of Michael Brantley, a guy who has seen his playing time decrease is OF Jose Constanza. But, he’s taking it all in stride. Despite only playing in five games (well, six, but one was just a brief PH appearance) and having just 13 at-bats, he’s still doing well when he’s in there. He banged out five hits in those at-bats (.385), with a double, four runs, an RBI, and a stolen base.
It’s getting harder and harder for me to hate on OF/C Chris Gimenez. I still resent him for taking Jordan Brown’s chance at playing in The Show last year, but I can’t be mad at Gimenez for his play in Columbus right now. He’s playing all over the field (in the OF, behind the dish as needed, and let’s not forget that the backup catcher in AAA is also the bullpen catcher when he’s not playing), and he’s hitting. 10-for-24 this week (.417), two homers, two doubles, six RBI, and six runs scored. Props to Gimenez.
Sensing a trend here? The offense woke up this week in a big way. One of the contributors was 1B/3B Wes Hodges. In 28 at-bats, Hodges notched 10 hits (.357) with a homer, a double, and six RBI. Hodges scored five runs, and has his average up to .309 and his OPS up to .830.
A guy who deserves a big thumbs-up is RHP Josh Tomlin. Pressed into the rotation with the injury to Scott Lewis, Tomlin is stepping up. The 25-year-old made two starts this week, and while he’s not stretched out enough to go deep into games, he’s doing his job. In his two starts, he went 1-0 this week while working 10.2 innings. He allowed just one run in each start (1.69 combined ERA) on six hits, walked just one, and struck out 11. On the year, he’s made six appearances, three of which have been starts. He’s 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA, but as a starter he’s 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Overall, he has 17 strikeouts against just six walks, but as a starter that ratio is 13 against 2. Someone might have a rotation spot for awhile in Columbus.
RHP Jeanmar Gomez had a nice bounce-back, quality start this week. He got plenty of run support, but worked 6.0 innings and allowed just two runs (3.00 ERA) to get the win. He did allow six hits and walked three while only striking out two, but he got three double plays along the way to keep the Chiefs at bay. And, nicely for him, but the time the book was closed on him after six innings, the Clippers’ offense had posted 10 runs for him. On the season through five starts, Gomez is 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA.
Three more outings for RHP Frank Herrmann, and 3.2 more innings of solid, solid work. Herrmann hasn’t been scored upon in nine outings covering 10.2 innings, lowering his season ERA to a miniscule 0.75 with just one run allowed in 12.0 innings of work. He allowed just one hit, fanned three, and didn’t walk a batter in his three appearances this week.
Likewise, three more scoreless outings for RHP Saul Rivera. Herrmann and Rivera have become a solid 1-2 punch out of the bullpen. Rivera worked 3.0 innings and earned one save, while allowing just two hits and walking just one. On the season, he has worked 11.0 innings and allowed just one run (0.82 ERA).
Hard to tell what it means, but LHP Jeremy Sowers looks comfortable at AAA. He made three appearances out of the bullpen this week, working a combined 5.0 scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit while walking three, and struck out three.
It was a rocky start this week for RHP Carlos Carrasco, as he only managed to work 4.0 innings in notching a no-decision. He gave up six runs—four earned (9.00 ERA)—on eight hits and four walks while striking out just two, and was working in and out of trouble the entire day. He got a caught-stealing to get him out of the first after allowing two runners to reach. He wasn’t able to escape a lead-off double, as a two-out single plated a run. In the third, a lead-off walk followed by a stolen base followed by a single plated a run before anyone was out in the third. Another stolen base followed by a two-out single plated another. A lead-off homer followed by a double set the stage for a costly error to effectively end Carrasco’s day after four innings, as three more runs scored in the fourth. The Clippers scored five through the first four to get him off the hook, and won the game late. For the season, Carrasco is 2-1 in five starts with a 3.49 ERA.
It might be officially time to panic about RHP Hector Rondon. Possibly the Tribe’s most prized pitching prospect at the start of the year after dominating at Akron and holding his own after a late season call-up to Columbus in 2009, Rondon just cannot get anything sustained thus far in 2010. In his start this week, Rondon worked just five innings and surrendered six runs (ERA 10.80) on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five, but just couldn’t get guys out when needed. Three singles and a walk with two outs in the first set the tone, allowing the Knights to score three runs with two men out. Rondon cruised through the next three innings, allowing just one hit. But in the fifth, a walk, single, and homer did the rest of the damage. Rondon has just been unable to avoid the big inning. He’s 0-3 with a 9.13 ERA in five starts on the season.
A cooling off period for The Frightener. OF/1B Shelley Duncan definitely has leveled off. He went 5-for-25 this week (.200), though he tried his best to make those hits count with a homer, two doubles, and five RBI. Biggest problem for The Frightener was the whiff, as he fanned eight times against only one walk.
It was a tale of two outings for RHP Joe Smith. In his first outing, he worked a perfect inning while striking out two. In his second outing, he was rocked. He took the loss while working 0.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while fanning one. His overall ERA to get started is 10.80.
Thumbs Sideways (?)
Clip Show favorite OF Jordan Brown is back in action! He’s started working back to his expected form, though it won’t be surprising if it takes him awhile to hit on all cylinders after missing a month with a leg injury. He played in five games this week, and went 4-for-16 (.250) with two doubles and six RBI. He scored two runs, but struck out three times against no walks. Not horrible, but not at the level he was hitting at all of last season.
Sadly, an injury to an ankle limited OF Trevor Crowe this week. He left on 4/28 in the 6th inning, and hasn’t seen action since. He had been 3-for-7 (.429) before injuring himself. He has not been placed on the DL as of yet.
It’s hard to qualify RHP Yohan Pino this week. On one hand, he went 2-0 in two starts. On the other hand, he allowed nine runs in 11.1 innings. Three of those were unearned (4.76 combined ERA), but I saw his first start on Tuesday and, had the offense not scored 12 runs in the first three frames for him, he was destined for the loss. Pino gave up 13 hits and walked three across the two starts, while striking out 10. He just wasn’t super sharp in either outing, though his offense bailed him out each time, scoring 18 runs in his two starts.
It wasn’t all mai-thais and Yahtzee for RHP Jess Todd, but I have to give credit where it’s due. He worked twice this week spanning 3.0 innings, and didn’t allow a run. He even earned a win with two solid innings on Thursday night. Overall, the reason he gets the thumbs-sideways is that he allowed a total of five runners to reach in three innings, with a hit and two walks in two innings on Thursday and two hits in an inning on Sunday. He kept his head above water by striking out a combined four batters in those two outings.
A Quick [Additional] Word…
…Carlos Santana. I assumed that if you’ve read to this point, you were probably wondering where in the heck any mention of him was in the “Players to Watch” section. I wanted to spend a little more than a paragraph talking about this guy, so he’s down here. I got to see Santana play in person again last Tuesday night, and while he may not be putting up the raw numbers that some other guys are—or that even he himself was earlier in the year—it’s not a hyperbole to say that I LOVE watching him hit more than any other player on this team.
He quite simply is a pure hitter. He doesn’t swing at ANY bad pitches. In his first at bat the night I saw him, he worked a 3-0 count and walked on five pitches without swinging the bat once; there simply wasn’t a pitch worth offering at. However, the next two times he came up there were two and three runners on respectively. I’m not exaggerating that Santana jumped on the first pitch AND HIT THEM BOTH HARD to drive in runs. He was robbed of more RBI simply because of the short right-field wall at Huntington Park, as he hit the ball so hard both times the RF was able to get it back to the infield before more runners could score.
On the week, Santana went 7-for-23 (.304) with a double, six RBI, and six runs scored. He also walked six times for an OBP this week of .448. The only knock on Santana this week is that, despite what I’ve seen, he did strike out seven times. I would say this constitutes a slump for Santana, though. No reason to panic, though, as he still has an OPS north of 1.000, which includes an insane .443 OBP… from the catcher’s position. He’s still walked more (17 times) than he’s struck out (13) in 95 plate appearances.
As much as I loved Victor Martinez—and I do/did—it’s time to realize that Santana has the chance to be as good, and probably better, than Vic. For, as good as Vic was, he never sniffed that kind of on-base percentage.
…we touched on this before, but the Clippers have had a lot of home cookin’ so far this year, with 18 of their first 27 games at home (including tonight’s game). They are, however, only 10-7 at home thus far (and 6-3 on the road). The real test is coming up, as 16 of their next 20 are on the road.