Gary Southshore RailCats Mid-Season Report
Place: 3rd in the Central Division (5.5 GB), 3rd in the Wild Card (1 GB)
Team Pitching (League Ranking Listed in Parenthesis): ERA: 4.41 (10), Strikeouts: 425 (10), WHIP: 1.41 (7)
Team Batting (League Ranking Listed in Parenthesis): .Average: 260 (7), Home Runs: 24 (11), Slugging: .359 (9), Stolen Bases: 82 (1)
Gary Southshore RailCats First Half Recap
The Gary Southshore RailCats enter the second half of the season in the race for both the Central Division and the Wild Card. The RailCats have been one of the streakiest teams this season, and that became apparent right from the start. Gary Southshore finished 6-7 in May, losing their first three and last three games of the month, while winning four in a row at one point.
In June, the RailCats would go 16-12, posting two streaks of three-wins in a row, and a losing streak of three in a row. The team never seemed to get any momentum going, as their longest win streak still stands at four. However, they have never lost more than three either, meaning that the team is built so that they are not going to see any prolonged slumps.
Prior to the break, Gary was just 2.5 behind Lincoln in the Central, but a sweep at the hands of the Sioux City Explorers coinciding with the SaltDogs sweeping Wichita has the RailCats trailing by 5.5 entering the second part of the season.
As usual, the Gary Southshore RailCats are the kind of team that plays smart baseball, manufactures runs, and never seems to be truly out of any game. They are leading the league in stolen bases and are in the middle of the pack in runs scored despite being second to the bottom in home runs. Manager Greg Tagert always finds a way to win games and this season has been no exception.
The bullpen for the RailCats has been absolutely spectacular. The combination of Drasen Johnson and Jorge De Leon gives Gary a 1-2 punch out of the pen that few can match and Charle Rosario continues to be one of the best starters in the league.
The lack of power is not a surprise, but the number of walks are. This is a team that does all the little things correctly, and on-base is usually one of those areas. The 211 walks is less than four a game. This is a young team and patience doesn’t usually coincide with youth, but this team is going to need to get on-base more if they are going to make a serious run.
Earlier this season, the team’s top hitter was involved in an altercation that led to his arrest. That could have been a black eye for the team and the league as a whole, but Manager Greg Tagert handled it skillfully. Kudos to him for standing up for the integrity of the game when a lot of managers would have looked the other way.
1st Half Most Valuable Player: Colin Willis
Willis has become one of the most feared hitters in the American Association. A guy was 7-home runs may not seem like that many, but when you’re hitting in U.S. Steelyard that is a lot. Add to it that he has a .322 batting average, 34-RBI, 6-stolen bases, and 31-runs scored and he makes the ideal choice.
1st Half Top Pitcher: Charle Rosario
While the bullpen has been a huge story for Gary this season, Rosario continues to be a master. He leads the American Association in innings pitched (100.1) and leaves to break with a 7-4 record and a 3.31 ERA. He has simply been one of the best pictures over the last few seasons and continues to be so.
No one would be surprised if the Gary Southshore RailCats won this division. This is the kind of team that gets better as the season goes along because of the way that their manager develops his players. However, unless the team is able to start putting together some lengthy winning streaks they’re not going to have much of a chance to catch Lincoln. Right now, they are the team on the outside looking in and until they can rattle off six or seven straight wins that is where they’re going to stay.
By Robert Pannier