Baseball: Slammers’ starting rotation goes through quite a spin
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media July 21, 2014 9:22PM
Joliet Slammers pitcher Blair Walters makes a pickoff throw to first base Sunday vs. Evansville. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 23, 2014 6:19AM
The Joliet Slammers have had to start over this year with their starting rotation.
Danny Hernandez retired early in the season, Michael Johnson and Matt Dillon were released, and Blair Walters was signed last week by the Atlanta Braves to pitch in their minor league system.
“Blair Walters being gone obviously shuffled things up,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said.
Before the All-Star break, the Slammers played two doubleheaders in five days, against Normal and Schaumburg.
“We were scrambling for pitching,’’ Isom said. “The pitching got all out of whack. It’s nice we had the All-Star break, gave our guys some rest and got our bullpen where it needs to be.’’
Travis Bradshaw, a free agent acquired July 5, made the start Monday night against Traverse City, his second start as a Slammer.
Reliever Brett Zawacki (3-3, 1.92 ERA) is expected to make his first start of the season Tuesday against Traverse City, followed by Andrew Busby (1-3, 4.82) in Wednesday’s series finale.
Busby and Kody McFarland (2-2, 4.41 in 11 games, eight starts) have been in the rotation since the end of May. Busby will make his 11th start in the game against Traverse City.
The Slammers last week acquired pitchers Matt Crim and David Kubiak from Southern Illinois for 2013 All-Star Marquis Riley.
“He’s been an experienced arm, a lefty who’s been a starter and reliever,’’ Isom said of Crim.
By the numbers
Grant DeBruin went into Monday’s game hitting a team-best .356, fourth in the league. Joliet’s third baseman was frustrated but still hopeful after the Slammers lost 5-3 Sunday to Windy City.
“It’s definitely frustrating, a hit here or there, a play gets made and it could be a whole different ballgame,’’ he said. “But that’s the great thing about baseball. Tomorrow’s a new day, start over, fresh count at the plate.’’
Recently acquired rookie infielder Jake Gronsky was 2-for-3 in Sunday’s loss to raise his average to .385. Gronsky was 10-for-26 in seven games.
Gronsky’s stay in Joliet was short-lived. On Monday, his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals.
“With the college guys we brought in, if things don’t get better with our offense, we might have to bring in more college guys. They’re the guys getting the job done,” Isom said.
At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, Slammers reliever Sam Moore has the kind of frame that would be useful if opposing players had a confrontation during a game.
“If we get in a bench-clearing brawl, I know who I’m going to be following out there,’’ Isom said with a laugh.