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Don’t look now but a more dependable pitching staff may be taking shape in Charlotte. Pitching coach Matt Zaleski thinks so, and the results of the past few weeks bear him out.
A mysterious change in the staff’s philosophy may be driving the results.
To be sure, part of the improvement stems from the normal ebbs and flows of a minor-league season. Guys get comfortable (or don’t) pitching in Truist Field while shaking off the rust of the off-season. And, eventually, struggling guys are released or demoted and reinforcements are brought in.
But Zaleski also said he has implemented a new way of attacking hitters recently that looks encouraging. He wouldn’t reveal the ingredients of his secret sauce, except to say that it is “a little bit of like where to go with certain pitches at certain times.”
He said the idea came to him while watching a major-league game a few weeks ago. “I was like, ‘Wow, maybe there’s something to that and I went to look at the numbers,” he said, “And I saw that, yeah, it can be pretty good.”
The bottom line, he said, is that the staff is giving up more singles and fewer homers and extra-base hits.
By The Numbers
The Knights’ year-to-date pitching numbers paint a bleak picture: last in the 20-team International League in ERA and WHIP, and first in hits and homers allowed. The team is 20 games under in that period, at 33-53.
But the past month indeed tells a different story. The team is 10-15 in that span, the stats are more toward the middle of the pack, and the games are just more competitive.
And it gets even better in the past two weeks (as of 7/14): The Knights are 6-6, with the sixth-best ERA in the league, the sixth-fewest hits allowed and fourth-fewest home runs allowed.
(The Knights’ WHIP remains unsightly because the staff is still walking too many batters.)
The staff is composed primarily of relievers. Lots of relievers. John Parke is the only true starter who is stretched out and taking the ball every fifth day. Kade McClure has been moved to the pen, Mike Wright is returning from the IL and on a limited pitch count, and Davis Martin is back and forth between Charlotte and Chicago. Multi-inning reliever Kyle Kubat has joined the rotation but the majority of Knights’ games features a half-dozen or so pen arms.
Players who’ve been on the roster most of the season are Yoan Aybar, Brandon Finnegan, Kubat, McClure, Zach Muckenhirn, JB Olson, Parke, Andrew Perez, Yacksel Rios and Hunter Schryver.
In-season reinforcements include the addition of veterans Dan Winkler, Wright, Rafael Dolis and Parker Markel and the promotions of Steven Moyers, Declan Cronin and Lincoln Henzman from Birmingham. Bennett Sousa and Anderson Severino are also on the roster after spending a considerable time with the White Sox.
There’s nothing worse than a one-sided beating of the Knights that seems to drag on forever. The pitch clock has eliminated part of the problem, and Zaleski’s boys may well be on their way to taking care of the rest of it.
White Sox Minor Keys
- Yasmani Grandal DH’d and went 2-for-3 with two walks.
- Lenyn Sosa was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
- Carlos Pérez, 0-for-3 with a sac fly.
- Yolbert Sánchez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- José Rodrígueez went 2-for-5 with his 29th stolen base.
- Oscar Colás, 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Jason Bilous: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
- Colson Montgomery keeps churning: 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Luis Mieses was 1-for-4.
- Drew Dalquist: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
- Wes Kath went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
- DJ Gladney, 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts.
- Wilfred Veras was 0-for-4.
- Luis Pineda went 2-fof-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Chase Krogman was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
- Dario Borrero, 1-for-5 with a K.
- Victor Quezada walked twice and struck out twice.
- Manuel Guariman walked once, hit a sac fly and struck out twice.
- Erick Bello: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
DSL D-backs Red 11, DSL White Sox 4 (7 innings)
- Guillermo Rodriguez doubled, singled, walked and struck out.
- Erick Hernandez has been scuffling: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Ryan Burrowes and Loidel Chapelli both went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Carlos Jimenez was 0-for-3.
- Ronny Hernandez, 1-for-3 with a homer.