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Clippers Notebook: Roster takes a hit in May with lots of moves

Clippers Notebook: Roster takes a hit in May with lots of moves
June 2, 2014
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The Week that Was

The Clippers took two of four from Charlotte, the team that has the dubious distinction of holding the worst record in the International League.  The highlight came in the first game when the Clippers got walk-off single from Elliot Johnson in the 12th after Tyler Holt tied the game with two outs and two strikes in the ninth on a double to left.

The lowlight came in the finale when the Clippers got torched for 18 runs.  Gabriel Arias was tagged for nine runs (three earned) in 4.1 innings only to be topped by Benny Suarez, who allowed both inherited runners to score and gave up seven runs himself on four homers, including a grand slam and a two-run homer to the same hitter (Dan Black) in 1.1 innings.  Black was lifted after the second homer, which was actually his third of the game.

Louisville came to town for three and after losing the first game on a night that featured a rehab start from Mat Latos, the Clippers came back with a day/night doubleheader sweep of the division rival Bats.  In the early game, the Clippers put it to LHP Matt Maloney for 10 runs over four innings. Tired from swinging the bat in the previous game, pitching ruled the nightcap.  Making a spot start, Toru Murata pitched a solid 7.1 innings, but did not factor in the decision because the Clippers had another flare for the dramatic.  Audy Ciriaco singled on a drawn in infield to score Elliot Johnson for the win. 

The week ended as a road trip began and the Clippers lost the opener in Louisville on Sunday night.  Kyle Daviespitched seven solid innings.  He gave up three runs, and a wild pitch led to the game winner, a sacrifice fly by none other than Chris Nelson.

Constant roster changes part of deal in Triple-A

The Clippers roster is a lot like the weather in Columbus, if you don’t like it…you know the rest.  The Clippers have lost 14 of 20 games and it’s no coincidence that the loss of starters Josh TomlinTrevor Bauer and T.J. House has affected the starting rotation, losing the trio at (or in Tomlin’s case a little before) this current stretch that began with the final starts for Bauer and House in Clippers uniforms.

All told, the Clippers made 56 transactions in the month of May and have totaled 87 for the year, including the three that they have made to start June.  Looking up last season’s transaction log, through the first two months, they totaled 97 moves over the first two months.  But the 56 moves made in May was the most moves in any one single month over the last two seasons.  Interstate 71 was backed up with players making a seemingly daily trip from Columbus to Cleveland or Akron to Columbus and back.

Justin Sellers has made the round trip twice this season as has Jesus Aguilar and Jose Ramirez.  Also gone are relief pitcher Mark Lowe and catcher George Kottaras.

Is this normal?

“It’s pretty typical, I think, you go through periods during the year when there’s more than others,” Clippers managerChris Tremie said after the game on Friday night.  “I wouldn’t say it’s out of the ordinary.”

T.J. House was supposed to be there to help the bullpen after a short start on April 21 by Zach McAllister.  House was actually optioned when Trevor Bauer was recalled to take his spot in the rotation.  When it was decided that McAllister needed a trip to the DL, House was recalled, having already made the trip back to Columbus.  He threw his bullpen session and hopped on a flight to Baltimore to make his first career start.

How does this affect the Clippers?

“At the Triple-A level, there’s going to be some roster moves especially whenever the Major League team has to make a move for whatever reason,” Tremie said.  “Whether it’s injuries or just making moves; changing guys out, it affects, really the whole system, but Triple-A sees it first.”

Like everything else in life, the constantly fluctuating roster has not been all negative.  The Clippers have added to their roster left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett and outfielder Tyler Holt over the last couple of weeks.  Crockett was a rare case of a player that made his Major League debut before he made his Triple-A debut.  He has since put that notch in his belt.

As for Holt, his addition came with the subtraction of Matt Carson, who was placed on the 7-Day Disabled List last week with a left ankle sprain.  Until then, the Clippers had been operating most of the year with only three outfielders on the team.

But the roster fluidity has put the team out of their rhythm.

“It’s just part of this level and it’s something that the guys here know that there’s going to be roster changes,” Tremie said.  “Obviously the continuity of the team, if they can stay together, it helps, but that rarely happens at the Triple-A level.  The guys that come in need to play well; the guys that are here at that particular time need to perform.”

Catching Wind

RHP Tyler Cloyd

Cloyd started Monday and picked up the first quality start for the Clippers staff since May 12.  In his last three appearances (one in relief), he has allowed only 4 earned runs in 20 innings, dropping his ERA from 6.38 as of May 15 down to 4.91.  The only downside to his recent success is that after giving up three solo homers on Saturday afternoon, he is back at the top of the leaderboard in home runs allowed; however, he did go the distance which saved the entire bullpen for the second game.

 

G

GS

W

L

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

HBP

ERA

PC

WHIP

Last 3 Games

3

2

1

0

20

18

5

4

2

12

3

2

1.80

272

1.00

Season

11

10

2

3

62.1

78

38

34

14

48

11

2

4.91

1025

1.48

INF Audy Ciriaco

Audy Ciriaco is quietly having a very solid season as a utility infielder.  He batted .364 over the 10 game home stand (and added a double and a walk on Sunday night to begin the road trip), hit two homers and drove in seven runs.  He also comes up with big hits in big moments, including two walk off hits.  He also hit a game-tying double with two outs in the sixth on May 5 against Rochester that turned the game.

 

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

HBP

BA

OBP

SLG

Last 11 Games

11

39

36

5

13

2

1

2

7

2

7

1

.361

.410

.639

Season

37

132

119

11

34

9

1

3

20

7

30

2

.286

.333

.454

OF Tyler Holt

Tyler Holt has been a welcomed addition to the Clippers since his arrival seven games ago.  He has played exclusively centerfield since his arrival, but he has spent more time this season in the corner spots.  At the time of his promotion he was hitting .298 and with 14 batted in and no homers.  Since his arrival, Sunday night was the first time that he was held without a hit.  He’s also shown a keen eye for the strike zone, which makes him a welcomed addition to the top part of the order. 

 

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

HBP

BA

OBP

SLG

Columbus

7

35

28

10

10

4

0

0

2

6

5

0

.357

.471

.500

Akron

38

156

124

13

37

4

1

0

14

27

26

0

.298

.416

.347

Lost at Sea

RHP Frank Herrmann

It would be easy to put Gabriel Arias or Benny Suarez in this space, but there’s already been plenty of material on their performance against Charlotte on Thursday.  As a preface to what is about to be written, Frank Herrmann is coming back from Tommy John surgery last season and to this point has pitched very well this season.  But his last two games were particularly rough.  Thursday night, Herrmann was called to pitch the ninth in a game that the Clippers were already trailing 16-9.  He gave up two more runs and was lifted in favor of infielder Elliot Johnson, who got the final two outs on just three pitches.

 

G

GS

W

L

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

HBP

ERA

PC

WHIP

Last 2 games

1

1

0

0

1

6

4

4

1

1

0

0

36.00

48

7.00

Total

13

0

1

1

13.2

17

6

6

9

20

0

0

3.95

266

1.90

Debuts

OF Tyler Holt

Tyler Holt made his Clippers debut memorable last Monday night.  Batting in the eighth spot in the order, Holt laced a double into left to bring home the tying run in the bottom of the ninth.  The Clippers would go on to win the game in the 12th inning.

RHP Benny Suarez

Benny Suarez had a memorable debut as well, though it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.  He pitched in four games for the Clippers last season, so this was his season debut with the Clippers for 2014.  He entered the game against Charlotte in the fifth inning of a 7-7 ballgame with two on and nobody out.  When he left he had given up the two runs charged to his predecessor plus seven more runs that went on his own record.  He gave up four home runs including a grand slam to Dan Black, who would touch him up again in the next inning for another two-run shot.  If only Dan Black had the day off.

Chris Wallace

The Clippers catching situation got a little dicey with Roberto Perez already on the disabled list and George Kottaras back for another shot in Cleveland so the Clippers turned to Chris Wallace to be the new backup until Perez could be activated.  Wallace debuted in the Wednesday morning loss to Charlotte and went 0-for-3.  He was lifted in the ninth inning for Luke Carlin.  Not to worry though, he got his licks in the 19-3 Sunday opening game drubbing of Louisville.  Batting ninth in the order he collected two hits, including a double, drove in three runs and scored a run.

King of the Road

After the Clippers finish up with Louisville on Monday, they continue their road trip through Gwinnett for a series of four.  The Clippers took three of four earlier this season against the Braves in Columbus.  It was a completely different looking team that the Clippers fielded back then (April 22-25).

Three of the four starters in those games are now pitching with the Indians, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House and Josh Tomlin.  Not surprisingly, the games those players started are also the games that the Clippers won.

Tyler Cloyd started the other game, and is scheduled to start on Thursday night at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA.  In that start Cloyd gave up four runs on 11 hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 4.2 innings.

Jose Ramirez had a particularly good series against Gwinnett.  He hit .353 (6-17) with a homer, a double and five RBI.  He would play three more games with the Clippers after that series before being called up to join the Indians.

Date

Result

WP

LP

S

April 22

Clippers 11-1

Bauer

Rodriguez

N/A

April 23

Gwinnett 2-1

Obispo

Barnes

Jaime

April 24

Clippers  5-4

Adams

Russell

N/A

April 25

Clippers 7-1

Tomlin

Stewart

N/A

After Gwinnett, the Clippers make their way northeast to Fort Hill, SC and newly christened BB&T Ballpark where they play the Charlotte Knights four times to end their season series of 2014.  The Clippers and the Knights played recently; during the last home stand. 

The Clippers used the struggling Knights to end their season-long six game losing streak, taking the first two games of the series.  They took the first game in dramatic walk-off fashion thanks to the talents of Elliot Johnson who singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th.

Charlotte took some of the shine off those wins with an extra inning three-run homer by Carlos Sanchez off Nick Hagadone in the third game.  They followed that effort by playing the role of bully to newcomers Gabriel Arias and Benny Suarez who gave up a combined 16 runs in 5.2 innings in the loss.  Arias’ ERA was spared a little because of an error made in the in the second inning.

The aforementioned Audy Ciriaco caught fire against the Knights collecting five hits, including three runs driven in with two homers and a double.

Date

Result

WP

LP

S

May 26

Clippers 4-3

Barnes

Veal

N/A

May 27

Clippers 8-6

Davies

Johnson

Pestano

May 28

Charlotte 5-2

Thompson

Hagadone

N/A

May 29

Charlotte 18-9

Boggs

Arias

N/A

6/2 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Travis Banwart (3-1, 3.43) vs. RHP Jair Jurrgens
6/3 – at Gwinnett (6:35 PM) – RHP Gabriel Arias (0-2, 5.73) vs. RHP Cody Martin
6/4 – at Gwinnett (6:35 PM) – RHP Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11) vs. LHP Daniel Rodriguez
6/5 – at Gwinnett (6:35 PM) – RHP Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 4.91) vs. RHP Gus Schlosser
6/6 – at Gwinnett (7:05 PM) – RHP Kyle Davies (2-3, 4.30) vs. TBA
6/7 – at Charlotte (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/8 – at Charlotte (2:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA

Transactions

5/26 – OF Tyler Holt transferred to Columbus from Akron

5/27 – 1B Jesus Aguilar recalled by Cleveland…Cleveland purchased the contract of C George Kottaras from Columbus…RHP Blake Wood was designated for assignment by Cleveland…C Chris Wallace was transferred to Columbus from Akron…C Matt Colantonio was transferred to Columbus from Mahoning Valley…1B David Cooper(strained left shoulder) was placed on the 7-Day Disabled List

5/28 – Jason Kipnis was activated by Cleveland

5/29 – C Matt Colantonio (ankle) was placed on the 7-Day Disabled List…INF Justin Sellers was optioned to Columbus from Cleveland…C Roberto Perez (left hamstring) was activated from 7-Day Disabled List…RHP Benny Suarez was transferred from Carolina to Columbus

5/31 – RHP Benny Suarez was transferred from Columbus to Carolina…RHP Toru Murata was transferred to Columbus from Akron

6/1 – RHP Toru Murata was transferred from Columbus to Akron…J.C. Ramirez was transferred from Akron to Columbus…RHP Bryan Price (right shoulder) was activated from the 7-Day Disabled List and transferred from Columbus to Akron

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

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