Gopher Holes for April

Jeremy Hellickson

Buoyed by a fanciful 14-6 April showing, the Gophers happily reached the season’s quarter pole with a 22-18 record.  With 4-1 series victories over Superior, Savannah and Satellite Beach, April was certainly a month to remember in Bushwood. In checking the 40-game stats, the Gophers feature over-achievers galore on the pitching side of the ledger, but plenty of room for improvement the at the plate.  Despite a mediocre-at-best staff on paper, Bushwood’s team ERA of 3.40 through 40 games ranked second in the league (trailing only Dyersville’s 3.24 but much better than the league average of 4.11).  … For starters, check out Jeremy Hellickson, who fortunately slid to the Gophers in the third round of March’s draft.  The righty is 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA. He has pitched well in all seven of his starts so far and has won his last five in a row entering May.  Fellow righty Trevor Bauer (2-5) hasn’t enjoyed the offensive support Hellickson has, but his ERA stands at 3.72 and he has logged at least five innings in all eight of his starts.  Even lefty Martin Perez, Bushwood’s No. 6 starter, has a respectable ERA of 3.98 through four starts. … And the bullpen, boosting a cumulative ERA of 2.07, is crawling with overachievers, including Alex Claudio (0.00 ERA), Delois Guerra (0.96), Hansel Robles (1.11), Sam Dyson (1.23), Nate Jones (1.96) and David Phelps (2.20).  … Offensively, however, it is another story.  Bushwood’s primary lineup will never be described as fearsome, but these stats suggest it is woefully inept.  With a team OPS of .688, the Gophers are next-to-last in that key category and well off the league average of .744. … Everyday RF George Springer is the worst offender, hitting just .159 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs and an OPS of just .513 (vs. .816 in real life).   Other culprits include second-round pick Aledmys Diaz (.213/2/7/.616), Steve Pearce (.196/4/12/.631) and Denard Span (.177/1/5/.523).  … Only two Gophers are bucking this glum trend at the plate:  CF Kevin Kiermaier and C Buster Posey. Kiermaier, known more for his glove than his bat, is Bushwood’s No. 9 hitter yet somehow leads the team in RBI with 21, including three that came on game-winning squeeze bunts.  And Posey, who normally gets a great card and still overachieves, is doing it again despite a modest card, hitting .290 with an .836 OPS.  Against lefty starters, however, the baffling team-wide slump continues, as the Gophers are just 5-9 vs. lefties despite a loaded lineup. … Future watch:  Although the Gophers have settled into the middle of the pack in the early-season Yahoo standings, Bushwood fans are enthused about the home run power displayed by waiver draft pickup Joey Gallo so far with the Rangers.  Alas, the Rangers have demoted star-crossed prospect and fellow Gopher Jurickson Profar to the minors after a poor start.  Meanwhile, top pick Nomar Mazara falls in the middle entering May, having cooled off considerably after opening the season on fire with the Rangers. … Checking the standings, Bushwood stood two games behind the front-running Volcanoes in the Northbound race entering May.  And the Gophers were able to inch a little closer by taking 3 of 5 from Margaritaville to open May play.  Hoping to extend their unlikely streak of four winning series in a row (after losing 3 of 4 April series), the Gophers face Tatooine, West Atlanta and Destin later this month.

Got notes like these on your team and want to see them on the league webpage? E-mail them to me by the 4th of the following month…

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