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.
Well, it wasn’t pretty over the weekend, but they made it! The Clippers won five in a row to clinch a playoff spot, and then promptly collapsed in losing their final four games. This put them into the playoffs as the Wild Card, as Louisville surged to take the division win. But, it’s playoff baseball! Let’s take a quick look at the Clippers’ week, and take a more in-depth look at the playoff series with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…
This Week: 3-4
Final Record: 79-65, 2nd place (of four) in ILW (International League West)
8/31 @ Indianapolis – Clippers 5, Indians 2; WP Espino (3-2)
9/01 @ Indianapolis – Clippers 4, Indians 1; WP Kluber (1-0)
9/02 vs. Toledo – Clippers 8, Mud Hens 0; WP Huff (8-2)
9/03 vs. Toledo – Mud Hens 5, Clippers 3; LP McAllister (9-3)
9/04 @ Toledo – Mud Hens 6, Clippers 4; LP Pino (10-9)
9/05 @ Toledo – Mud Hens 9, Clippers 1; LP Espino (3-3)
9/06 @ Toledo – Mud Hens 5, Clippers 2; LP Kluber (1-1)
Considering how many dudes have been called up to Cleveland this year, the September roster expansion did not net a ton of additional call-ups.
9/1 – RHP Carlos Carrasco recalled by Cleveland
9/1 – RHP Jensen Lewis recalled by Cleveland
9/1 – INF/OF Jordan Brown recalled by Cleveland
9/1 – RHP Corey Kluber transferred from Akron
9/1 – LHP Aaron Laffey optioned from Cleveland
9/3 – INF/OF Jerad Head transferred from Akron
OF: Ezequiel Carrera, Jose Constanza, Jerad Head, Matt McBride
IF: Jared Goedert, Wes Hodges, Cord Phelps, Argenis Reyes, Josh Rodriguez, Drew Sutton
C: Luke Carlin, Damaso Espino
SP: Paolo Espino, David Huff, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Yohan Pino
RP: Josh Judy (R), Aaron Laffey (L), Vinnie Pestano (R), Zach Putnam (R), Saul Rivera (R), Carlton Smith (R), Jess Todd (R)
Playoff Round 1 Schedule/Starters
Wednesday – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (David Huff 8-2, 4.36)
Thursday – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Zach McAllister 9-12, 5.29)
Friday – @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yohan Pino 10-9, 5.75)
Saturday – @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Paolo Espino 3-3, 5.62) – if necessary
Sunday – @ Scranton/WIlkes-Barre (Corey Kluber 1-1, 3.27) – if necessary
Columbus Record: 3-5
May 10 – @Scranton: Clippers 10, Yankees 2
May 12 – @Scranton: Clippers 4, Yankees 3
May 12 – @Scranton: Yankees 5, Clippers 3
May 13 – @Scranton: Yankees 7, Clippers 3
August 17 – vs. Scranton: Clippers 5, Yankees 1
August 18 – vs. Scranton: Yankees 9, Clippers 2
August 19 – vs. Scranton: Yankees 9, Clippers 5
August 20 – vs. Scranton: Yankees 7, Clippers 5
These matchups are really a tale-of-two-teams, as the Clippers of May were a completely different roster than the Clippers of August. Gone are the likes of Michael Brantley, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, Carlos Carrasco, Matt LaPorta, and Jordan Brown. That’s not to say there haven’t been solid players for Columbus through the second half, but the late-August matchups are much more indicative of how the two teams are playing right now.
Columbus has one nice advantage in that they get games one and two at home, but again as the August matchups show, Huntington Park didn’t help much when the pitching was struggling. The Clippers’ offense did what it could, scoring almost five runs a game. But, when your pitching staff gives up 6+ runs a game—including 8+ in the last three—that’s not going to cut it.
Final Stats (League Rankings)
|AVG .285 (1)||AVG .267 (5)|
|R 731 (2)||R 630 (7)|
|2B 304 (3)||2B 286 (6)|
|3B 33 (4)||3B 26 (9)|
|HR 139 (5)||HR 118 (9)|
|BB 526 (3)||BB 408 (12)|
|K 895 (1 – fewest)||K 957 (4)|
|OBP .356 (1)||OBP .330 (t6)|
|SLG .444 (2)||SLG .411 (7)|
|OPS .800 (1)||OPS .741 (7)|
For the season, Columbus holds the edge on offense. However, it’s important to note that a lot of the team leaders for the season on offense for Columbus aren’t on the team right now. The two highest averages, for example, belong to Matt LaPorta (.362) and Michael Brantley (.319). Carlos Santana and his .316 average? Gone. Shelley Duncan’s .301 average and .500 slugging? Gone. Jordan Brown? Gone.
So, Columbus is going to have to find their offensive groove with a lot of guys who started the season in Akron. They’re going to need Cord Phelps to step up. They’re going to need the Jared Goedert that tore the cover off the ball prior to the All-Star break. Wes Hodges and Matt McBride are both .270 hitters, with the latter having cooled off since he came up. Columbus’s big edge can come at the top of the lineup, where Jose Constanza and Ezequiel Carrera can get on base and steal bags, or even just generally disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm.
Both teams are missing some of their best hitters due to roster moves to their parent clubs. SS Eduardo Nunez (.289 4/50, 23 SB in 118 games) is gone. OF Colin Curtis (.289 5/27 in 66 games) is in NY. There are a couple of big boppers for Scranton/WB still on the roster. C Jesus Montero (.289, 21/75 in 123 games), 1B Juan Miranda (.285, 15/43 in 80 games), and INF Jorge Vazquez (.270, 18/62 in 76 games) anchor their current lineup.
|H 1281 (9)||H 1235 (4)|
|R 658 (8)||R 565 (2)|
|ER 601 (9)||ER 524 (2)|
|ERA 4.25 (9)||ERA 3.78 (3)|
|BB 455 (9)||BB 409 (2)|
|WHIP 1.36 (t5)||WHIP 1.32 (3)|
|K 1051 (t3)||K 1046 (6)|
|HR 142 (12)||HR 114 (4)|
For the season, Scranton/WB holds the edge on the mound. Defense is also an edge for Scranton/WB, as they allowed 16 fewer unearned runs than the Clippers. What this series will come down to—as do most playoff series—is starting pitching. Columbus has been holding their rotation together with duct tape and an influx from Akron. Yohan Pino is the only starter in the playoff rotation who was in the rotation on opening day. Let that sink in for a minute.
Columbus’s three best starters were Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco, and Jeanmar Gomez. All three are finishing the year in Cleveland. That’s going to make it tougher. But, it’s no all bad news. Scranton/WB’s rotation has seen some similar losses due to September roster expansions for the Big Yankees. Their rotation for this series shakes up like this:
Game 1: D.J. Mitchell 2-0, 3.57
Game 2: David Phelps 4-2, 3.07
Game 3: Kei Igawa 3-4, 4.32
Game 4: Hector Noesi 1-1, 4.82
Game 5: RH Lance Pendleton 2-1, 4.24
Notably absent? Ivan Nova (12-3, 2.86 ERA in 23 starts); he’s up in New York. Jason Hirsch (9-7, 3.90 ERA) and Romulo Sanchez (10-8, 3.97 ERA); they’re both on the DL. Both team now have rotations that are shells of what they once were. Another big loss for the Yankees is closer Jonathan Albaladejo who was recalled to New York as well, whereas the setup and closer tandem of Josh Judy and Vinnie Pestano remains in Columbus. So, the question will be: whose organizational pitching depth is better?
Clip Show Prediction
It’s tough to predict this series, as both teams have been in such flux of late. I will say this, however. Columbus has two advantages: first, they get the first two games at home, and second, Scranton/WB has lost more integral pieces to their team due to September call-ups than have the Clippers. Scranton/WB was definitely the better team throughout the year, but the gap has narrowed due to the roster changes.
Columbus definitely has a chance to win this series, especially if they can come out and take the first two games at home. The Clippers are going to need big series from the top three in their lineup (Constanza, Carrera, Phelps), and they’re going to need some timely hitting from other sources (Goedert, Hodges, McBride, Josh Rodriguez). Those four guys have all shown they can do it for short stretches, and that’s really all you need in the playoffs.
On the other side of the ball, they need good starting pitching. Walks and home runs have killed them—even the good guys who are in Cleveland now—throughout the season. Columbus was ninth-worst in walks and 12th-worst in home runs allowed. Scranton/WB’s hitters weren’t known for their patience (12th-worst in walks-drawn) all year, and if Columbus’s starters can keep the ball in the strikezone and play good defense, they should have success.
The key for those first two home games will be to get a lead, have David Huff and Zach McAllister work into the seventh inning, and then to turn it over to Judy and Pestano to put games away.
In the end, though, I find myself wondering if all of these “ifs” can come to pass, though I give Columbus a much better chance after seeing what the Yankees did to their AAA roster with September callups. I still see Scranton/WB winning the series, but I think it goes five games. That means I think Columbus has as good a chance as any, and if they can set the tone at home I think they can pull off the upset.