The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have now completed a month of baseball. Time to take stock.
It’s May 6, 2019 and here’s what’s been going on recently on the path 400 miles to Toronto.
Thursday, April 25 – Reading 8, New Hampshire 1
Friday, April 26 – Postponed: Rain
Saturday, April 27 – New Hampshire 8, Reading 5
Sunday, April 28 – Reading 2, New Hampshire 1
Monday, April 29 – Trenton 6, New Hampshire 1
Tuesday, April 30 – Trenton 3, New Hampshire 1
Wednesday, May 1 – New Hampshire 4, Trenton 1
Thursday, May 2 – New Hampshire 1, Hartford 0
Friday, May 3 – Hartford 4, New Hampshire 3
Saturday, May 4 – Hartford 3, New Hampshire 1
Sunday, May 5 – Hartford 7, New Hampshire 1
Possible changes coming at the plate
So far this season, New Hampshire’s lack of consistent hitting has become the club’s clear weakness, something Fisher Cats manager Mike Mordecai attributes to a lack of aggressiveness at the plate.
There’s something to be said about patience at the plate, and New Hampshire has certainly been patient, holding just four walks shy of the league lead as of May 6. However, too much patience can allow pitchers with good control room to find outs on the edge of the strike zone, knowing that opposing hitters might fear chasing a possible ball.
“For some odd reason, we don’t attack the ball early in the count,” said Mordecai. “We will probably continue to explore ways to get them more aggressive in the count and see if there are ways, we can turn this around.”
So far, Mordecai has tried to give his batters a green light at the plate, hoping that pitch recognition will come even in failure and that baserunner advancement by any means should be the key thought when runners are on base. However, he noted after the Hartford series that a tighter rein might be needed if the batters don’t get into a groove.
“I want them to be aggressive swinging the bat,” said Mordecai.” There are times in the minors when you’d rather have a guy swing the bat as opposed to bunting because these opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position and seeing how opposing pitchers adjust. We just haven’t been very good at that and we need to get better.”
Can Murphy and Perez Catch Up?
New Hampshire’s rotation has split into two camps. The first camp consists of Zach Logue, Yennsy Diaz and Andrew Sopko. As of May 6, that trio has a respectable ERA of 3.51.
Camp Number Two has Hector Perez and Patrick Murphy, who combined have an ERA of 6.04.
For the most part, New Hampshire’s bullpen has been solid over the first month, so the Fisher Cats will need Perez and Murphy to pick things up if they want to stay involved in games every day as the hitters slowly build confidence.
According to Mordecai, the key for Perez and Murphy revolves around locating their pitches, and developing better strategies to attack hitters that can adjust to pitch patterns in ways that hitters couldn’t below Double-A.
In particular, Perez needs to develop the command of his fastball to compliment the strength of his breaking pitches, particularly a sharp biting slider.
“You can’t keep on attacking major league hitters with the same sequencing, they’re going to get you,” said Mordecai.
Winning three out of 10 coming into the first week of May isn’t a good place to be in, but continuing the trend so far, New Hampshire has been keeping it close even if they can’t bridge the gap during those tight losses.
Now they head east to face local rival Portland for a three-game set against the Sea Dogs before facing Binghamton in New York State to complete the road trip.
Fisher Cats of the Week (and a half)
Batting: Santiago Espinal – 11-for-37, 4 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB
Starting Pitching: Andrew Sopko – 12 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 6 Ks
Relief Pitching: Jackson McClelland – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 Ks