Lincoln Saltdogs Mid-Season Review: Lincoln Line
The Lincoln Saltdogs exit the mid-season break in second place in the Central Division of the American Association, five games behind the Gary Southshore RailCats. At 34-33 they are actually closer to the division lead than they are to the Wild Card spot. They are 5.5 games behind the St. Paul Saints. Lincoln has lost two straight and five of their last ten, and are in need of a hot streak to make a statement that they are in the pennant race to stay.
The Saltdogs are eighth in the league in hitting with a .268 average and are tied for eighth in runs scored with 332. They have shown some pop in the home run category, ranked fifth in the American Association with 52 in 67 games. Their pitching staff has been slightly better than the hitters. They are sixth in the league in ERA at 4.23, and rank first in opponent batting average at .253. They also lead the league in saves with 23 and have the third lowest WHIP at 1.39.
Top Saltdogs Player: While a few players are having good seasons for the Saltdogs, no discussion about the Saltdogs best player need go any further than 1B Ian Gac. The 6-3, 245 slugger has been a beast this season, batting .363 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI in 50 games. Gac is second in the league in both home runs and batting average, and is tied for seventh in RBI. One area he needs to improve a little is in his plate discipline, as he has walked just 18 times this year, but he has shown he can hit, and hit to all fields with power. The runner-up in the Home Run Derby is having a phenomenal season and is clearly the Saltdogs best player.
Top Saltdogs Pitcher: On the mound it is a tough call between starter Marquis Fleming, the winner in the All-Star game, and closer Marshall Schuler, but the Lincoln Line gives the nod to Schuler. In 33 appearances this season the big righty has given up just 21 hits and 13 walks while striking out 36. He is 3-4 with a 2.67 ERA, and leads the league with 23 saves. Of the 34 wins that Lincoln has had this season Schuler has saved nearly 70 percent of those games.
Season Outlook: The Lincoln Saltdogs are another one of those teams that needs a hot streak to see if they are going to be in the race or not. They need to go at least 7-3 in their next ten to shave their deficit by at least two games to see if they have a real shot of winning this division. They have lots of star appeal, and have the pitching to take them to the division crown, but they need to get some quality innings from their middle relief if they are going to be crowned division champs.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA