Bill Hass on Baseball:Kannapolis stops Hoppers’ win streak

Kannapolis stops Hoppers’ win streak
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

After 125 games of a 140-game season, it’s not unusual for signs of fatigue to show up in a team’s play.

In the Hoppers’ case, the position players aren’t a concern. They seem to be doing fine, despite a 6-3 loss to Kannapolis Friday. That stopped a five-game winning streak and overall the club is 9-5 during August’s “dog days.”

But pitching is another matter. Starters Domingo German and Jarlin Garcia are currently on limited innings. Chris Sadberry pitched 95 innings at Texas Tech and has thrown 31 more with Batavia and the Hoppers, so he’s also being monitored closely. Neither Jose Adames or Ryan Wertenberger, Friday’s starter, have ever thrown many innings in a season.

As a result, the Hoppers’ bullpen is racking up a lot of innings lately.

“Our starters can’t give us any innings and our bullpen is wearing out,” said manager David Berg. “Right now the bullpen is covering more innings than the starters.”

The last two games have been good examples. Wertenberger managed only four innings Friday, with Esmerling de la Rosa throwing two and Kyle Fischer three. On Thursday, Garcia was limited to four, so Tyler Kane followed with three, Tyler Bremer one and Tyler Kinley one. It’s a juggling match every night.

“You’ve got to pitch eight or nine innings every night and it’s definitely taking a toll,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “It’s a strain on the pen. But everyone is built up and can go multiple innings.”

Two innings in a game usually means a reliever is not available the next day. Three innings means he’s likely down for two days.

“Sometimes it’s asking a lot out of guys,” Powell said, “but it’s an opportunity to respond. You see who steps up and helps themselves.”

Several things can help the situation. One is off days in the schedule, which provide rest for everyone. One of those comes up Monday with another the following Monday. Also, Sean Townsley, who has been on the disabled list for some time with biceps tendinitis, is expected back before the regular season ends and he will be available in some capacity.

The other thing is for someone to go deep into a game and ease the bullpen’s load. Cody Crabaugh, who has been in and out of the rotation, gets that opportunity with a start in Saturday’s 7 p.m. game.

“Five innings would be a plus and six would be even better,” Powell said. “He gets a lot of early contact, which will help.”

NOTES: Avery Romero had three of the Hoppers’ nine hits, all of which were singles … Felix Munoz extended his hitting streak to 15 games … The defense turned three double plays … Greensboro stranded 11 runners and hitters were just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position … Austin Dean came off the disabled list and Hiram Martinez was sent back to Batavia … Brian Anderson also rejoined the lineup after missing several games with back problems.