Series 17: York @ Long Island

As the York Revolution roster came together during the offseason, no one questioned what the Revs’ strength would be in 2008.

We all thought it would be the pitching staff.

York started the year with seven former major leaguers between the starting rotation and the bullpen and dreams of a team ERA title floated through everyone’s mind. But in the Atlantic League, nothing is for certain. And thanks to early-season injuries to starters Landon Jacobsen and Pete Munro, York’s starting rotation — and as a result, the bullpen — has been in disarray since Day 1.

Aaron Rakers, a career reliever who appeared to be a quality bullpen arm, was placed in the starting rotation and although he’s eaten up innings, the experiment hasn’t gone well. Rakers was 1-5 with a 6.02 ERA as a starter entering Thursday night’s outing (five innings, two earned runs, seven strikeouts). And the Revs had to endure a brief injury to Aaron Myette, the tumultuous start of Corey Thurman and the losses of Wayne Franklin (Mexico) and Dave Gassner (Red Sox). How’s that for tough luck?

But now with the return of Frank Castillo (pictured) and the recent hot streaks of Thurman, Myette and Dave Gil, York’s starting rotation seems to be coming around as the second half approaches. And the numbers back up that claim. A month ago, the starting staff had a 5.31 ERA and only 74 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. Since that time, the Revs’ starters have lowered their collective ERA (5.06) and now have 202 strikeouts in 279 innings pitched for the year. That means over the last 175 2/3 innings pitched by the starters, York has managed 128 strikeouts. That’s not stellar by any means, but a much-needed improvement.

Also, the addition of Heath Totten might allow Rakers to return to the bullpen, where he’s much more comfortable. That means Rakers is pitching in the seventh or eighth inning and York probably doesn’t lose a game like the 2-1 debacle against Bridgeport Tuesday night. That also lessens the burden on Nick McCurdy and Dave Veres, who have both looked mortal in recent outings lately.

Here’s what York’s starting rotation should look like in the near future assuming Rakers returns to the ‘pen (in no particular order):

  1. Aaron Myette (4-4, 5.55 ERA)
  2. Dave Gil (1-2, 6.51 ERA)
  3. Corey Thurman (3-5, 5.28 ERA)
  4. Frank Castillo (2007: 8-4, 3.75 ERA)
  5. Heath Totten (2007: 2-5, 3.38 ERA at Double-A/1-5, 7.09 ERA at Triple-A)

Long Island Notes: Bad news for York and the rest of the Atlantic League: Ray Navarette returned from Mexico after only about a week. He promptly homered in his return and is tied with Bridgeport’s Jesse Hoorelebeke for the Atlantic League lead in homers (12). … Entering Thursday night, outfielder and leadoff man Alex Sanchez was really crushing the ball. He’s hitting .341 with three RBIs over his last 10 games. … Former Oriole Jay Gibbons hit fifth for the Ducks in his first game with the team. … Carl Everett has a ridiculous OPS of 1.129. He’s first in the league in on-base percentage (.492) and second in the league in slugging (.637). Navarette owns the league lead in slugging (.699). … Pitching is where the Ducks have struggled. Their 5.16 team ERA is seventh in the Atlantic League only ahead of Bridgeport (6.08).

York Notes: Sandy Aracena has been out of the lineup recently in order to keep him fresh for the second half and not because of injury, according to manager Chris Hoiles. Aracena’s 14-game hitting streak was snapped Tuesday night when he went 0-for-1 in a pinch-hit appearance. … Dan Foli has a .093 ERA over his last six appearances. He came in with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh Tuesday night and got out of the jam. Foli has also yet to allow a homer. … Matt Esquivel has hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games. His numbers over that stretch (minus Thursday’s game) are out of this world: .364, three home runs, 16 RBIs and 13 runs. … York is 17-22 with Keoni De Renne in the leadoff spot. … York has a losing record on every day of the week except for Sunday (5-3).

Pitching Probables: (York’s starters first)

Game 1: Aaron Myette (4-4, 5.55 ERA) vs. Alay Soler (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Game 2: Frank Castillo ( 0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Randy Leek (4-2, 3.78 ERA)

Game 3: Dave Gil (1-2, 6.51 ERA) vs. Manny Ulloa (3-2, 4.94 ERA)

Game 4: Corey Thurman (3-5, 5.28 ERA) vs. Donovan Osborne (0-1, 4.09 ERA)

*John Pavoncello photo.


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