Lava Flow for March

After 2018’s “Dream Season,” there were a couple holes to patch in Margaritaville. We said good-bye to David Ortiz’s MVP season of 45 HRs and 136 RBIs, and Wilmer Flores’ 17 HRs in 151 lefty-mashing at-bats. We also penciled in greatly reduced roles for Jon Lester (76 IP, 2.45 era after his trade-deadline pick-up) and Wilson Ramos (34 HRs and 95 RBIs).

The draft filled some holes in the outfield (Chris Taylor, Mitch Haniger), in the starting staff (Dinelson Lamet) and the bullpen (Mike Minor, Mychal Givens, Cory Gearrin). How would the offense measure up to 2018’s 996 runs and 314 HRs? Is there enough pitching in Margaritaville for a 2018 playoff run?

March provided some optimistic answers to those questions. In winning 13 and losing 7, the Volcanoes led the league in runs scored (122), home runs (38) and fewest runs allowed (73). Leading the offense again was Joey Votto, slashing .392/.473/.658 while scoring 21 runs and driving in 11. Kris Bryant had 7 HRs and 16 RBIs while Gary Sanchez (now a full-time catcher after his rationed 2017 at-bats) hit 6 HRs and led the team (and the league) with 19 RBIs.

While the offense continued to produce runs, March’s biggest surprise was the effectiveness of the Volcano pitching staff. It is still a bullpen-led group (3.83 ERA for the starters, 2.82 ERA for the relievers) with its 73.1 IP second only to Superior’s 75 bullpen innings. Lamet was a nice draft-day pickup, going 2-1 in his 4 March starts, and on the front-end of Margaritaville’s first-ever no-hitter. Brandon McCarthy and Cole Hamels proved their trade-worthiness, going 6-0 in their eight March starts. After going 22-16 in one-run games in 2017, the Volcanoes played nine one-run games in March, going 4-5. In a league that has gone sac-bunt crazy (113 attempts for the league in March play), the Volcanoes were the only team NOT to attempt a sacrifice bunt. The Volcano defense continues to be a strength, converting 82% of their x-chances (third in the league).

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