Baseball: Return of Jessie Snodgrass strengthens ThunderBolts bullpen
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media August 20, 2013 9:22PM
Updated: September 22, 2013 6:30AM
Windy City ThunderBolts reliever Jessie Snodgrass didn’t pitch for five weeks after undergoing an appendectomy.
Snodgrass was very good before the time off, but he’s taken it to an even higher level since he’s been back.
The run he gave up Sunday against River City snapped a scoreless streak at 221/3 innings and was the first he’s allowed since returning to the team Aug. 2.
“For me, that time off was just a mental break more than anything,” he said. “I felt like I had been going 100 miles per hour, pitching a whole season in college (at Belmont University) this spring and then coming right here. It helped to slow down and get a mental break.
“I had some success earlier in the season and I knew I could come back and pitch well here.”
Snodgrass’ return has strengthened an already dominant bullpen.
Despite losing Andy Mee, who began the year as the team’s closer, to injury in June and watching several of the relievers on their Opening Day roster not pan out, the T-Bolts have managed to put together one of the league’s top ’pens with an unlikely group of pitchers.
Snodgrass (2-0, 1.09 ERA) and Jake Roberts (1-1, 0.91 ERA) — the latter of whom hadn’t pitched regularly before this season — have thrived as rookies.
Colin O’Connell (3-0, 1.68 ERA) was a late-June signing and Reese McGraw (1-2, 1.62 ERA) was picked up in early July after struggling with Southern Illinois.
All have had tremendous success as setup men for closer Michael Click (19 saves in 21 chances, 1.02 ERA).
“It helps our entire staff so much when we have a great bullpen,” T-Bolts pitching coach Brian Smith said.
“Our starters know if they have to come out early, the bullpen will pick them up. As a former reliever myself, I take a lot of pride in our bullpen’s success.”
The T-Bolts’ recent surge is more impressive considering they’ve been without ace pitcher Dyllon Nuernberg since Aug. 4.
Nuernberg’s foot swelled up after he was hit by a line drive and he eventually was diagnosed with a staph infection. He was walking with crutches during last week’s homestand and is considered day to day.