The Amarillo Sod Poodles hit the road for their longest road trip of the year, starting in Springfield.
The Sod Poodles will head to Missouri after a series win against the Hooks to start an eight-game road trip that will start with the Springfield Cardinals and the Arkansas Travelers. Amarillo has struggled on the road thus far as the Soddies ability inability to score runs, as they are averaging 2.43 runs a game away from Hodgetown. They will have an opportunity to increase that number as the first opponent of this road trip sports the Texas League’s worst ERA.
The Cardinals (5-12) come into the series in last place in the Texas League North, with 10 of their losses coming on the road as they have yet to win an away game this season. Springfield is 5-2 at home where the Soddies will join them for four-game set on Monday. They have lost four straight coming into Monday’s game.
Here are the likely starters based on previous rotation setups (these are not official):
Adrian Morejon had his first strong start of this season in his last start against the Rockhounds, not allowing an earned run for the first time all season in five and two-thirds. Morejon also struck out a season-high seven while walking three in what was by far his best start in a Sod Poodles uniform. Despite his early season struggles, the Cuban left-hander has dominated against left-handed hitters, giving up only one hit in 20 total at-bats against them.
The St. Louis Cardinals #27 prospect Evan Kruczynski, like his opponent, has struggled in the early 2019 campaign, not having a start yet that he has held a team to less than four earned runs. Most of the damage is coming from the right-hand side of the plate as right-handed batters are hitting .455 against him, giving him a 16.71 ERA against them. An odd number that stands out with Kruczynski is that most of the damage is being dealt with two outs as 52% of his earned runs occurred when he just needed an out to get out of the frame.
Aside from his first start Scholtens has been a standout in this Sod Poodles rotation thus far in 2019. After his season debut where he allowed five earned runs in three innings pitched, the Wright State product has only allowed two earned runs to score in 10 innings of work, including holding a red hot Rockhounds team in Midland to one run in five innings of work.
Springfield starting pitcher Casey Meisner had a start to forget in his last time out as the 6’7 Texan allowed five home runs in five innings against the Tulsa Drillers. Every one of those being solo shots, as the reliever turned starter’s ERA jumped to the 8.76 in two starts and two relief appearances.
Game 3: (Wednesday, April 24 – 11:30 A.M. CDT) T.J. Weir (2-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Austin Warner (0-2, 7.11 ERA)
After back to back five-inning appearances from the former reliever, Weir will look to do much of the same against in his first game away from Hodgetown on the season. Weir has done exceedingly well to begin frames and get the first two batters out as he hasn’t allowed an earned run in those scenarios and only allowing three hits to go with those zeros, with all of his trouble coming with two outs.
Austin Warner continues the trend for pitchers in the rotation with the Texas League’s worst ERA, as his 7.11 fits in with one outlier in the group (see next Cardinal pitcher). Warner is a player that exceeds at keeping the ball in the ballpark as has only allowed one home run every 24 innings in his minor league career, and none so far in 2019.
It wasn’t that long ago that Avila appeared in a game for the big club in San Diego (and performing well in it, falling two outs short of a quality start) but he will need to shake off his last start where he allowed six earned runs including three home runs to the Hooks.
The brightest spot on this Springfield rotation is undoubtedly right-hander Anthony Shew who, through four starts of his campaign, is sitting with a sub-three ERA (2.45). In his last outing, he was locked in a duel with Naturals pitcher Connor Greene, where he went seven innings and allowed only one run but wound up taking the loss as the offense failed to produce any runs. This was the second time this year that Shew had only allowed one run and still was handed the loss because of the lack of run support from the lineup, yet another prime example of how the win stat is almost impossible to judge a pitchers performance.
Players to watch
Amarillo Sod Poodles: Rodrigo Orozco (OF)
If you blinked, you might have missed the addition of Orozco to the Sod Poodles roster as he was sent down from Triple-A El Paso as Peter Van Gansen was promoted. Despite his lack of time in Double-A, Orozco has wasted no time making an impact, racking up five hits and five RBI in his first games as a Sod Poodle in the series win against Corpus Christi.
Springfield Cardinals: Irving Lopez (2B)
Lopez has jumped on this new campaign quickly, as he is not listed in the Cardinals Top 30 Prospects on MLB.com, yet thus far is in the top 10 in the Texas League in OPS/HR/TB. The Cardinals second baseman in five games at home in Hammons field already has five home runs driving in nine RBI and will look to stay hot and on the bases with his .407 OBP in his first meeting with Amarillo