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Clippers Notebook: Ciriaco and starting pitching guides Clippers

Clippers Notebook: Ciriaco and starting pitching guides Clippers
June 30, 2014
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Looking Back

The Columbus Clippers spent the week in the midst of a 10 game road trip through Lehigh Valley, Buffalo, and Toledo.

Monday was the finale in Allentown where the Clippers defeated the IronPigs 7-4 to finish off the series.  They took three of four in Allentown, including the last three games.  They used a five running eighth inning that included a double by Audy Ciriaco that drove in a pair, including the winning run.  Ciriaco had quite a series against Lehigh Valley, homering in each game and collecting eight hits in 12 at-bats and driving in nine runs.

The Clippers stumbled in Buffalo, dropping three of four, including a pair of one run games that both concluded on Wednesday.  The first game was a completion of Tuesday night’s suspended game.  They picked it up in the fourth where it was scoreless.  The Clippers made a valiant effort to comeback late in the game, sending it to extras where they lost in the 13th.  They didn’t get started with the second game until after 9 PM, with the Clippers losing by a run in seven innings.

Columbus took both games in Toledo over the weekend.  They backed Tyler Cloyd’s one run performance over seven innings with six runs, including a two-run homer by Giovanny Urshela in the fifth.  Travis Banwart pitched seven shutout innings and Ryan Rohlinger hit a two-run homer in the second and the Clippers blanked Toledo 4-0.

Quality Starts

The Clippers concluded the week with five consecutive quality starts.  They won only three of those games, but overall, Columbus is 27-13 in quality starts this season.  Wednesday night at Buffalo also marked the first quality start in six overall starts that Danny Salazar threw.  He took the loss after a bad throw allowed the go-ahead run to score, but it was a step in the right direction. 

While throwing a quality start isn’t a guaranteed victory, they are only 17-26 in games when a starter does less than that.  If it doesn’t give you a win, what’s the value in a quality start?

“There’s a lot of value in a quality start,” Clippers Manager Chris Tremie said.  “It sets the tone for the game.  It allows your bullpen to stay fresh to be able to use them when necessary.”

But the debate continues on how valuable a quality start is, even down to the definition.  For this piece, I used the traditional six innings or more and three runs or less.  The minimum by the traditional quality start means that the starter has an ERA of 4.50, which is not good.

Starters in games where they throw a quality start have an ERA of 1.88 this season.  They are 20-7 in games in which they pitch a quality start with 13 no decisions.  With an ERA that low, Clippers pitchers are pitching much better than the minimum quality start requirement.

When I asked Tremie what his definition was, he said, “The definition of that may vary a little bit from person-to-person.  But I view seven innings, two or three runs as a quality start.  Anything less than that in terms of runs is a really, really good start.  If you go deeper than that, it’s a really good start.”

Travis Banwart currently leads the Clippers with eight quality starts this season.  In games in which he has done that he has a record of 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA and four no-decisions.  Second on the team in quality starts is Trevor Bauer with seven.

The Clippers were under .500 in both April and May, but the Clippers opened up May with a surge in wins.  They split a four game set in Durham and returned home and took all four against Rochester and three of four against Syracuse (9-3 during that stretch).  During that span, they recorded 11 quality starts.

Right after that, they faced the same three teams again, this time being swept by Rochester, taking two of four against Syracuse and being swept by Durham (2-10 during that span).  They did not record a single quality start during that losing period. 

The Clippers are 18-8 in their last 26 games dating back to June 3.  During that span, they have 10 wins in games they have thrown a quality start.  While the definition may vary and the result is not guaranteed, and I know this is breaking news, but a team is much more likely to win if the starter throws a quality start.

Catching Wind

Audy Ciriaco, INF
14 G, 17-49, 12 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 8 BB, 11 K, .347 BA (since June 13)

What a series Audy Ciriaco had against Lehigh Valley last week.  In three games he went 8-for-12 with two doubles, three homers, nine runs batted in and seven runs scored.  The Clippers scored 27 runs in the three games he played and he accounted for 18 of those runs by either driving a run in or scoring himself.  The Clippers lost the only game in which he was out of the lineup.

Roberto Perez, C
20 G, 21-73, 11 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 11 BB, 25 K, .288 BA (June)

The Clippers catcher is currently riding a seven game hitting streak and reached base in all eight games on the road trip.  He had a really big night last Saturday when he drove in four runs and collected three hits, including a double and a triple in the Clippers 14-2 rout of Lehigh Valley. 

Austin Adams, RHP
21 G, 2-0, 1 SV, 26.1 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 23 K, 1 HR, 1.03 ERA (since April 22)

On April 18, Austin Adams had a really bad outing.  He gave up a pair of eighth inning homers against Toledo.  The first one by J.D. Martinez tied the game and the second by Luis Exposito gave them a two-run lead.  It was the second time Adams had an outing where he gave up three runs.  It was also the last time.  Since then, Adams has been steady.  So steady that when Vinnie Pestano got called up, Chris Tremie turned to him in a save situation.  He pitched the eighth and ninth innings at Lehigh Valley last Sunday night for his first Triple-A save.

Lost at Sea

Jesus Aguilar, 1B
15 G, 11-56, 9 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 16 K, .196 BA

In early June, fresh off another return from Cleveland, Jesus Aguilar went through a stretch of six games where he homered four times.  Since then, he has struggled mightily.  He hasn’t displayed much power, just one home run over the past 15 games.  What’s worse is that he is batting just .196 over that span.  The good news for the Clippers is that they’ve gotten production in other places while their best hitter has been in a slump.

By the Numbers

13 different Clippers have made a start for the Clippers this season, two of which (Tyler Cloyd and Travis Banwart) have been with the club all season.  Travis Banwart is the only Clippers pitcher to make every start.  Tyler Cloyd was skipped when Danny Salazar joined the rotation, ultimately pitching out of the bullpen in that game. 

Debuts

The Clippers got the services of right-hander Bryan Price for the first time in 2014 on Thursday night in Buffalo.  Price pitched 1.2 innings and gave up a hit and two walks, while striking out one.  He replaced starter Zach McAllister in the eighth inning of a 9-0 win against the Bisons.

Price opened the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury.  He was activated on May 31 and transferred to Akron.  He made his season debut for the RubberDucks and pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk with two strikeouts in the seventh inning against Harrisburg. 

For Akron this season he went 1-0 with a save and a 1.80 ERA.  Over ten innings, he allowed 7 hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts.

This is the third season in Columbus for Price.  He threw in 13 games for the Clippers in 2012 and 35 games in 2013.  He has two career saves as a Clipper and an ERA of 3.39, which includes Thursday’s performance.

Looking Forward

Louisville

This two game set in Columbus will be the third time this season that the Louisville Bats have come to Huntington Park.  The Clippers and the Bats met for five consecutive games in early May.  One of the games in Columbus was rained out, so they played two at Huntington Park, which they split, before traveling to Louisville for three, and the Bats took two.

The teams met for back-to-back series again at the end of May, again starting in Columbus where the Clippers took two of three, with one of them being a makeup of an early rainout.  The Bats took both games of the return trip.

Hot vs. Louisville (2014)

OF Tyler Holt:  4 G, 7-16, 4 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, .438 BA
1B Jesus Aguilar:  5 G, 6-20, 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, .300 BA
INF Audy Ciriaco: 7 G, 8-24, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, .333 BA
RHP Tyler Cloyd: 2 G, 2 GS, 2-0, 17 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 12 K, 3 HR, 1.59 ERA

Cold vs. Louisville (2014)

OF Carlos Moncrief:  8 G, 4-28, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 10 K, .143 BA
INF Jose Ramirez:  9 G, 9-37, 4 R, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, .243 BA
RHP Austin Adams: 2 G, 0-0, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10.13 ERA
RHP Mark Lowe:  2 G, 0-0, 2 SV, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 K, 6.75 ERA

Toledo

After taking both games in Toledo last weekend, the Clippers are now 5-3 against the Mud Hens this season.  An odd part of the schedule has them returning to Toledo for another pair after two at home against Louisville.  The two head south to Columbus for two more at Huntington Park.  After that the Clippers and the Mud Hens don’t see each other again until August.

Hot vs. Toledo (2014)

1B Jesus Aguilar:  8 G, 9-29, 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, .310 BA
INF Jose Ramirez:  7 G, 13-27, 8 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, .481 BA
RHP Travis Banwart:  2 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 2.70 ERA

Cold vs. Toledo (2014)

INF Justin Sellers:  8 G, 6-27, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, .222 BA
RHP Austin Adams:  3 G, 0-1, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 6.23 ERA
RHP Tyler Cloyd:  2 G, 2 GS, 1-1, 12 IP, 14 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 4 HR, 6.75 ERA

Game Times and Starting Pitchers

6/30 – vs Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Josh Smith (8-1, 4.00) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (1-5, 5.65)
7/1 – vs Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Brett Marshall (0-3, 12.75) vs. RHP Zach McAllister (3-0, 1.48)
7/2 – at Toledo (7:00 PM) – RHP Kyle Davies (4-5, 3.59) vs. TBA
7/3 – at Toledo (7:00 PM) – RHP Tyler Cloyd (6-4, 4.47) vs. RHP Derek Hankins (3-9, 6.45)
7/4 – vs Toledo (7:15 PM) – LHP Duane Below (6-2, 3.99) vs. RHP Travis Banwart (5-2, 3.12)
7/5 – vs Toledo (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/6 – at Pawtucket (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA

Transactions

6/25 – LHP Nick Hagadone recalled by Cleveland from Columbus

6/26 – RHP J.C. Ramirez transferred to Akron from Columbus…RHP Mark Lowe optioned from Cleveland to Columbus…RHP Bryan Price transferred to Columbus from Akron

 6/28 – INF Adam Abraham transferred from Columbus to Akron…LHP Scott Barnes (left lat strain) placed on 7-Day Disabled List…LHP Josh Outman sent outright from Cleveland to Columbus…INF Jose Ramirez (right hamstring) activated from 7-Day Disabled List

6/29 – LHP T.J. House recalled by Cleveland from Columbus

Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.

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