Life can be a preposterously unfair thing. On April 24, you might wake up on top of the Minor League Baseball world, off to the best start in franchise history at 15-2. And yet, you could very well wake up 18 days later and find yourself scuffling through a six-game skid.
Yep, sounds like baseball. Streaks happen when you play every day.
As they arrive home to take on the Mississippi Braves on May 12, the Jackson Generals are mired in a 2-8 opening to the month of May, having fallen 2.5 games behind Chattanooga in the standings after being swept out of East Tennessee in a five-game set.
The biggest reason? Injuries. Five Generals position players–infielder Marty Herum, catchers Matt Jones and Alberto Rosario, and outfielders Jay Gonzalez and Ben DeLuzio–have landed on the disabled list since the Generals’ 15-2 start, and losing more than half of your starting lineup always stings. Herum and Gonzalez have had the worst of the luck, as each one has already been placed on the DL twice in the 2018 campaign.
In their auspicious April, the Generals went 17-7, scored 5.6 runs per game, held a .793 OPS, kept opponents to a .218 batting average, and allowed 2.64 earned runs per game.
In their migraine-inducing May–which has featured just eight total at-bats from the five injured players–the Generals are 2-8, scoring 4.2 runs per game, holding a .711 OPS and allowing opponents to hit .289 against them while giving up 5.56 earned runs per game. If you’re defense-minded, Jackson’s may has upset you as well: they’ve made five errors in the past four games alone, costing themselves 4 runs in the process. (This, after a month of April in which they made 12 errors total.)
One thing that hasn’t come along as quickly as many hoped: the work of the Generals’ starting rotation. In their last 10 games, they have allowed 35 earned runs in 48 innings, an ERA of 6.56. Three of the starters–Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener, and Alex Young–are ranked in MLBPipeline.com’s Top 30 Arizona Diamondbacks prospects. It’s still early in the year, and Widener and Duplantier are pitching their first full seasons at this level. Young looks a bit more comfortable, having won four times and thrown the most innings of anybody in the rotation thus far. But nobody will argue that a 6.56 ERA will do the Generals no favors, especially when hamstrung by a banged-up lineup.
Here are the Generals’ best performers in their ten May games (30+ AB or 5.0 IP):
*INF Kevin Medrano – .941 OPS, 16 H, 4 D, 6 RBI, 2 BB
*INF Juniel Querecuto – .900 OPS, 13 H, 5 D, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SB
*UTL Jose Vinicio – .707 OPS, 12 H, 3 D, 1 T, 3 RBI
*LF Jamie Westbrook – .882 OPS, 11 H, 6 D, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB
*LHP Kirby Bellow – 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 7 K, 1.00 WHIP, .111 BAA
*RHP Joel Payamps – 3.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 2 K, 1.00 WHIP, .227 AVG
Last time this squad played Mississippi (in late April), they dropped a 3-2 series, but Querecuto–the active Southern League Leader in batting average, currently at .382–went 9-for-20 against M-Braves pitching. On the hill against Mississippi, Duplantier was one of five Generals pitchers to work 2.0+ innings and not allow an earned run, joined in that category by lefty Gabe Speier and right-handers Yoan Lopez, Mason McCullough, and Joel Payamps.
The M-Braves have six of MLBPipeline.com’s Top 30 Atlanta Braves prospects on their team, including starting pitchers Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, and Bryse Wilson. They also feature former Mariners prospect Alex Jackson behind the plate, joined by left fielder Travis Demeritte and bullpen arm Josh Graham. Mississippi is managed by Chris Maloney, and the former St. Louis Cardinals third base coach has them off to a 15-20 start (4-6 in May).
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