Baseball: Hitting 50 may not be enough for Slammers
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media July 28, 2014 9:22PM
Updated: August 30, 2014 6:17AM
Even with the Frontier League postseason format expanded this year to six teams, bleak numbers indicate the Joliet Slammers will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Since the Slammers joined the league in 2011, only once has a team with fewer than 50 wins finished in the top six in the standings.
Going into Monday’s doubleheader at Traverse City, Joliet would have to win 27 of its remaining 36 games to finish with 50 victories.
Nine teams won 50 or more games last season, meaning five teams with 50-plus wins were left out of the playoffs. Windy City won 50 games last year, but missed the postseason with the seventh-best record.
In other words, 50 victories likely won’t be enough to make the 2014 playoffs.
Although the postseason is turning into a pipe dream, the schedule could help Joliet get closer to .500. The Slammers still have 24 home games, including two series against the Frontier Greys, who are last in the East Division.
“It’s definitely going to be tough,’’ third baseman Grant DeBruin said. “We have a lot of home games coming up. We’ll have to make a run.’’
After finishing 56-40 in the 2011 regular season, the Slammers went 37-58 in 2012 and 38-57 last season.
By the numbers
Despite the team’s struggles, DeBruin has swung a hot bat all season. The second-year Slammer is hitting a season-best .366, second in the league to Windy City’s Kyle Robinson (.370). Going into Monday’s games, DeBruin led the league in hits with 87.
As a team, the Slammers are batting .257, sixth in the league. But the pitching staff’s ERA remains next-to-last at 4.77, above only the Frontier Greys (5.60).
Down on the farm
Left-hander Blair Walters, the Slammers’ top starter this season who was signed two weeks ago by the Atlanta Braves organization, won his first start with high Class A Lynchburg (Virginia).
The 24-year-old Walters went six innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts and one walk. Walters was a 2011 draft pick of the White Sox who pitched last season in the Houston Astros minor league system.
Former Slammers pitcher Jake Sanchez, signed during the 2013 season by the White Sox and traded this year to Oakland, is 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA with Stockton (California) in High A.
Circle the dates
The Aug. 4 game against Schaumburg is the second Military Monday event this season at Silver Cross Field that honors active and veteran members of the military. The third and final Military Monday game is Aug. 11 against Southern Illinois.