Gopher Holes for June

After stumbling out of the gate with only eight March wins, the Gophers righted the ship with double-digit win totals for three consecutive months (14-6 in April, 10-10 in May and 12-8 in June) to reach the midway point with 44 wins.  The successful first half has sparked postseason hopes around Bushwood for a team that looked no better than middle-of-the-pack after the draft. Although the addition of quality starter Jacob deGrom bodes well for the second half, the Gophers over-used numerous key players in the first half —  among them SP Justin Verlander (113%), SP Yu Darvish (124%), CF Kevin Kiermaier (115%) and OF Chris Young (118%) — so the club will be relying on some lesser players to make up the difference in the second half. … No Gophers appear among the league leaders on offense.  RF George Springer leads the club with a mere 10 homers, and Kiermaier and 2B Dustin Pedroia share the RBI lead with just 40.  Springer (.208) and SS Asdrubal Cabrera (.205) got hot in June to hike their averages above the Mendoza Line.  But Cabrera, who smacked 23 homers for the Mets last year, has only four for the Gophers.

While the bats were slumping, however, Bushwood enjoyed surprisingly strong pitching over the first 80 games.  Ace righty Verlander leads the league in starts (20) and innings (128.1).  JV is  8-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 142 strikeouts, trailing league leader Max Scherzer of SGP by three.  No. 3 starter Jeremy Hellickson has overachieved all season long en route to a 9-3 record and a 3.38 ERA.  And despite a rather lopsided card, closer Sam Dyson has been a godsend, converting 14 of 15 save opportunities and posting a 1.36 ERA.  As a unit, the no-name bullpen, which was completely rebuilt during the draft, has been sensational, with a cumulative ERA of 2.67, second in the league to Springfield’s 2.62 mark. … And let’s not overlook 3B Martin Prado, who has a lefty-killing card and has been dialed in at the plate all year.  Prado is hitting a cool .421 with a .478 OBA, and that is over a healthy 183 at-bats.  Prado is hitting an other-worldly .510 vs. lefties and a respectable .318 vs. righties. … Finally, it is sad to report that longtime franchise icon Albert Pujols has become a forgotten man in Bushwood.  Pujols cracked seven homers but hit just .200 in March and has been inactive for the next four months (including July).  Utility man Derek Dietrich — of all people — has relegated Prince Albert to the cab squad by hitting .324 with an OPA of .410 for the first half.  Dietrich also provides a much-needed lefty bat to balance the Bushwood lineup.

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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