Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hot Biscuits Get A Taste of First Place

Its been a while since my last post - I have been enjoying one of the unlisted perks of being a season ticketholder. A head cold brought on from sitting in the rain delay after the team tweeted "no rain here so come on down to the park!" Its nothing an array of over-the-counter meds can't dull but it has kept me from being able to focus on a computer screen.

sure, kid, keep telling yourself that

The Biscuits got their first taste of the Jumbo Shrimp and a share of first place. After whupping the Smokies for four of five games, the Skitz are streaking to the top of a crowded division race.

The Lookouts and Biscuits entered the week with identical win-loss records, the Generals just two games behind with just three series left to play in the first half. Montgomery gets a small advantage in playing lower teams in the south Division, Jacksonvile and MissBraves on the road, both with a .500 or lower W-L record.

The snag could be the home set against the Lookouts, who have always played the Biscuits tough. Montgomery is just 4-6 against Chattanooga in the last ten contests.

So Montgomery could be about to win the first half for the first time in franchise history. Or they could end up as low as fourth. One thing is for sure, its a wild ride and the first half title is theirs for the taking.

Having a cold this week also meant I was unable to predict the Biscuits AllStars. A bummer since I could have easily guessed those who made the squad. Congrats to those AllStar Biscuits, certainly the team would not have had the season it has without them.

Franco has quietly turned into the best starter on the staff, winning five of his 11 starts and keeping runners off base Franco has kept the Skitz in the game. Franco has been a consistently steady starting pitcher, keeping hitters to just a .212 batting average.

The only concern with Franco is his innings pitched, last year he totaled a career high 71 innings pitched and is already nearing that total in just a half season. Will the Rays allow him to blow past that limit or shut him down at some point to save him from potential injury?

The "Baby Pedro" of the Biscuit rotation has a very similar delivery to the Hall of Famer Martinez, this Venezuelan hurler has been nothing short of excellent since his arrival in mid-April.

Winning five of his ten starts for Montgomery so far, Jose has been stingy on baserunners. Posting a WhIP of 0.99 the righthander has kept Montgomery in the game more often than not.

The Biscuit version of Hunter Pence, Gotta doesn't always make it look easy but he gets the job done well. Solid defense, a great outfield arm, plus range and an unorthodox swing that looks like he is trying to turn the ball inside out with each hack are all hallmarks of this outfielders game.

His scorching .345 batting average and 14 stolen bases are excellent, but its his gung-ho attitude that likely attracted the notice of league managers who voted him onto the Allstar Squad. Nobody plays baseball harder than Cade Gotta.

When the All Star conversation started, Lee had to be the first name on everyone's list. The centerfielder has taken to the role of leadoff hitter, batting .320 on the season and providing stellar defense afield.

We knew Brax was better than his numbers last summer and every day I came to the park wondering if today was the day Lee had multiple hits and caught fire. That day was April 10th of this season, the fourth game of the year. Lee had four hits and his average hasn't dropped below .300 since.

Braxton does everything one wants to see from a centerfielder and has embraced hitting leadoff - perhaps the first true leadoff hitter in Montgomery for some years. Whether its bunting for a hit, diving for a sinking liner in the outfield or swiping an important bag, the Picayune native has a knack for doing what it takes to win games.

O's first game here was as the catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays during the exhibition game against the Biscuits way back in 2014. Since then its been an up and down ride for the backstop from Indianapolis. However after injuries kept him to just 20 games last year, Justin has worked his way back to relevance and likely regained his prospect status.

O has been effective in clutch situations, putting up a super .327 batting average with runners in scoring position. Also, you won't find a catcher with a better arm, scouts rank his throwing ability with the highest marks possible. He runs well and has excellent blocking skills behind the dish, its great to see Justin getting his career back on track.

Diego Castillo missed out on the nod due to his promotion, it was pointed out that he is the first Skitz reliever since Santiago Garrido in 2014 to be thus honored. Which for me says much more about the sorry state of the Montgomery bullpen than the ability of Castillo or Garrido, though certainly both are worthy. Two straight years we make the playoffs but can't get a reliever in the All Star Game?

Regardless, Castillo was an excellent addition to the Biscuits bullpen and a reliable ninth inning option, earning eight saves in ten opportunities. Losing him to Durham hurts the Biscuits but certainly his promotion was warranted.

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