Fisher Cats remain strong heading into Memorial Day weekend

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400 Miles to Toronto: New Hampsire Fisher Cats ColumnWe’re close to finishing two months of the 2018 season and the Fisher Cats remain at the top of the standings.

It’s May 25, here’s the state of things on the path 400 miles to Toronto and beyond.

Quick Recap

Home vs. Binghamton

May 17 – Binghamton 11, New Hampshire 1

May 18 – Game 1: Binghamton 6, New Hampshire 3

Game 2: New Hampshire 3, Binghamton 2 (9 inn.)

May 19 –  Postponed to May 20

May 20 – Game 1: Binghamton 10, New Hampshire 8 (9 inn.)

Game 2: New Hampshire 6, Binghamton 5

Away vs. Reading

May 22 – New Hampshire 7, Reading 2

May 23 – New Hampshire 7, Reading 2

May 24 – Reading 4, New Hampshire 3


Another good week for the Fisher Cats. Certainly not as good as their torrid early April pace, but not bad. Outside of the May 17 game, they once again were either dominant or within striking distance, something that has become their calling card throughout the year.

In the Binghamton series, one positive note came from the pitching staff’s ability to shut down Peter Alonso. Although Fisher Cat third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been soaking up the spotlight so far this year, especially in regard to his .427 batting average, Alonso is right there with him. In some areas, Alonso’s even ahead of him at the top of the Eastern League’s statistical heap.

Yet, Alonso went just 3-for-15 over the weekend series in Manchester, Instead, the job of Fisher Cat killer went once again to Jeff McNeil, who hit two home runs during the series and now has hit seven of his 12 total home runs against New Hampshire.

As of today, Alonso, McNeil and New Hampshire’s Cavan Biggio remain tied at the top of the Eastern League’s home run charts, with Hartford’s Brendan Rodgers in the hunt at 10 and Guerrero and Trenton’s Jhalan Jackson just behind at nine dingers for the year.

With the offense continuing to click on most nights, the team’s fate continues to orbit around the pitching staff.  Jordan Romano and Sean Reid-Foley continue to be automatic and Jon Harris has grown into a workhorse, putting in five innings almost every time up even if he can’t avoid a rough inning now and then.

The other two spots in the rotation remain up for grabs. Nick Tepesch struggled once again, this time on May 20 and Josh DeGraaf had an okay outing in his 2018 Fisher Cat debut on May 24.

On the bright side, TJ Zeuch seemed to turn the corner on May 23, spoiled only by a few mistakes in the sixth inning of strong seven-inning performance.

Fisher Cats of the Week

Position Player: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Most weeks, Guerrero is going to win this award until his inevitable promotion that every pundit in the universe (outside of New Hampshire) is expecting at any moment.

And this week, he did earn it, with Biggio’s hot bat cooling off and other Fisher Cat batters contributing here and there, but not with the sheer consistency of Guerrero, who had a hit in every game this week outside Game 2 on May 18.

He’s had at least one hit in every game this month except for that one and on May 11 against Harrisburg.

Starting Pitcher: Jordan Romano – Just as Guerrero has a lock in the hitting category most weeks for this award, Romano and Reid-Foley are so far ahead of the rest of the pack that they are likely to dominate most weeks moving forward.

This week Romano gets the edge for his outing on May 22, a 93-pitch gem that was more than enough for his eighth win of the year, two more than his nearest competitor, Richmond’s Cory Taylor.

Relief Pitcher: (tie) Kirby Snead and Danny Young – Kirby still has not given up a run since early April, well before coming to New Hampshire, but it was a great week for Young as well. Danny looks primed for a trip to the International League soon if this week was any indication, getting 11 outs over two games, allowing just three baserunners during that stretch.

Young’s allowed just six earned runs over 13 games so far this year and three of those runs came during a tough night in Binghamton earlier this month.

Around the Horn

Francisco Rios went onto the 7-day DL, scheduled to be available again on May 27. Dalton Rodriguez and Nick Hartman had impressive Fisher Cat debuts in relief of Romano’s strong outing and Luis Santos joined the team from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24.

In the lineup, Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Biggio and Jonathan Davis remain locked into third base, shortstop, second base and centerfield on most days, with Gunnar Heidt continuing his role as an all-purpose cog, allowing the non-catchers shift around and get days off as needed.

Max Pentecost and Patrick Cantwell continue their platooning roles behind the plate, with the pair often stepping in at designated hitter as needed, with Ryan Hissey providing relief in the third catching spot.

What’s Next

The Fisher Cats begin their Memorial Day/Ninja Turtles Saturday homestand on Friday facing off against Hartford. The Yard Goats will stick around until Monday, with the Portland Sea Dogs coming in for a three-game set after that.