The New Hampshire Fisher Cats western swing is done and now the Keystone State is firmly in the rearview mirror. It’s June 21, 2018, here’s what’s happening on the path 400 miles to Toronto.
Friday, June 15 – Altoona 10, New Hampshire 1
Saturday, June 16 – Altoona 9, New Hampshire 5
Sunday, June 17 – New Hampshire 9, Altoona 1
Monday, June 18 – Game postponed to June 19
Tuesday, June 19 – Game 1: New Hampshire 5, Erie 4 (8 inn.) Game 2: New Hampshire 5, Erie 3 (10 inn.)
Wednesday, June 20 – New Hampshire 10, Erie 9
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the face of the 2018 New Hampshire Fisher Cats, but in many ways, Jon Harris is its fulcrum.
According to the old baseball adage, good pitching beats good hitting. But good pitching doesn’t always beat great hitting and as its been stated countless times already this season, New Hampshire’s hitting is great on most nights.
So, despite great runs by Sean Reid-Foley and Jordan Romano earlier in the season and TJ Zeuch as of late, the Fisher Cats’ pitching staff only needs to prevent big innings to win, keeping things close enough for the inevitable rally from the New Hampshire bats.
Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s hurlers haven’t been able to prevent opponents from large offensive outputs on a consistent basis, fluctuating from fantastic to atrocious. But more and more, the key piece swinging the balance from one side to the other has been Harris.
New Hampshire’s offense returned on Sunday after two poor outings at the plate, but Harris also provided an improvement over two poor pitching performances.
Perhaps one can’t determine the cause and effect of pitching helping batting or vice versa, but when Harris is on, at the minimum he gives his squad a chance. Last four wins have come a day after Fisher Cat losses, resetting the mentality, and occasionally going far beyond that, like he did last week against Akron.
Even during his poor appearances, Harris has been an innings eater, going at least five innings in nine of his 13 starts so far this season.
After avoiding the sweep in Altoona, New Hampshire returned to the formula, keeping things close and ultimately proving to be too much, most notably on Wednesday when they regained the lead against Erie three times.
Fisher Cats of the Week
Batting – Jonathan Davis: The 2017 Arizona Fall League MVP had Wednesday off, and he earned it, grabbing at least one hit in the previous five games against Erie and Altoona. Davis now has recorded a hit in nine of his last ten games and leads the league in runs scored.
Starting Pitching – TJ Zeuch: Despite all that was said above regarding Harris, in terms of pure pitching, Zeuch had the best start this week in Game 1 on Tuesday. There he didn’t allow an earned run in seven innings of work, but wasn’t lucky enough to get a decision.
Relief Pitching – Jose Fernandez: Fernandez earned his sixth hold of the year on Wednesday and finished off the Curve on Sunday.
Around the Horn
Since he left New Hampshire in 2013, Marcus Stroman has pitched five years in the big leagues for the Blue Jays. He was set to pitch a rehab start for New Hampshire on Monday before that game was rained out.
Unfortunately for Fisher Cats fans, Stroman’s shoulder issues have dissipated to the point where he will be returning to Toronto for a start back in the big leagues on Saturday.
The only other roster move came after the Erie series, as Tom Robson announced his retirement.
Robson spent five years in the Blue Jays organization, appearing in two games last year for New Hampshire. Arm injuries kept Robson off the active Fisher Cats roster for the entirety of this season.