Rochester Recap: Continuing to Turn Things Around
Rapidly approaching the midpoint of the season, the Rochester Red Wings sit just two games short of the .500 mark at 34-36 after sweeping four games against the Gwinnett Braves this weekend.
Currently in fourth place in the Northern division, seven games back, it seems it was just a month ago that we were wondering how bad a season this was going to be in Rochester, so what has changed?
Despite all of the changes to the roster, the Red Wings have somehow found a balance of pitching and hitting that has worked for them. Since being called up from New Britain, Antoan Richardson is hitting .287 with 11 stolen bases, which leads the team despite playing 25 fewer games than Eric Farris who is second on the team with 10.
Another unsung hero for Rochester has been Dan Rohlfing, up from New Britain. Since being promoted, Rohlfing is hitting .407 with two home runs and nine RBI’s. Manager Gene Glynn said about Rohlfing, “He’s really sparked our club offensively since he’s arrived. He’s played right field, he’s caught, and he’s played left. He’s been a big plus, and makeup-wise he’s a fired up guy who brings a lot of energy.”
Friday night he went 4-4 in the game against Gwinnett, and followed that up with a game winning 2-RBI single in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday night.
“It was the first walk off hit of my career”, Rohlfing said after the game Saturday night. “I don’t even think I had one in high school.”
Finally there’s Chris Colabello, who has been discussed at great length by myself and many other's who follow the Red Wings and the Twins. Colabello is 1st in the International League in batting average at .369, tied for fourth in home runs with 14 and fourth in RBI’s with 50, all that while missing 14 of the Red Wings 70 games.
Despite being ranked 11th in the International League in ERA, there have been a few pitchers, especially in the bullpen, that have helped the Red Wings compile a 32-25 record since April 18th.
Andrew Albers, who started off the season as the Red Wings 5th starter, has become the most consistent starter in the rotation: he has posted a 5-2 record with a 3.01 ERA, while striking out 66 batters in 74.2 innings and walking just 19.
Currently ranked in the top ten in wins, ERA, and strikeouts in the International League, Albers’ season has been nothing short of surprising. Besides Kyle Gibson, the Red Wings rotation has been constantly changing this season, and Albers' time in Rochester may be short if he continues to pitch the way he has this year.
One of the more surprising stats is the Red Wings ranking 3rd in the IL in saves with 20. The reason that is so surprising is the lack of a specific closer coming out of the bullpen. To start the season, Luis Perdomo and Anthony Slama were splitting the duties. Slama was recently released and Perdomo has an ERA over five and has not closed a game in over a month.
While Gene Glynn likely won’t come out and name a closer, if you look at the late inning opportunities, it appears that recently promoted Aaron Thompson will have some opportunities to save games. Since being called up from New Britain, Thompson has appeared in nine games, posting a 1-1 record with a 1.88 ERA and three saves. Besides having a throwback style moustache, he’s been able to control the plate, walking only two batters in 14.1 innings.
Another former Rock Cat reliever that’s made an impact since being called up is Michael Tonkin. In seven appearances, including picking up the save on Sunday, Tonkin has pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight, and appears to be another player who, like Thompson, will get opportunities to close games.
Early on in the year, the Red Wings couldn’t seem to piece everything together. They would score a lot of runs and blow a lead, or the bats would be cold and the pitchers would throw a gem. It seems now that Rochester has a good blend of players, the clubhouse is loose and there could be a lot to get excited about in the second half of the season in upstate New York.