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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps take on the West Michigan Whitecaps at Parkview Field tonight for the first of a three-game series.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:00 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (8-6) vs. West Michigan Whitecaps (5-8)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps are back in town after a 2-4 road trip and return to Parkview Field for six games, beginning tonight against the West Michigan Whitecaps. That is, there are six games scheduled. The forecast calls for rain and plenty of it over the next week, including tonight, so it's possible that several of the games could be in jeopardy. 

Still, there is a game set to get started at 7:05 tonight and 6-foot-4 lefty Joey Cantillo is prepared to take the mound for the TinCaps. Cantillo will be making his first start at Parkview Field this season after two road appearances, though he did start in Fort Wayne once last season, giving up four runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Lake County Captains on Aug. 30. He's been decent so far this year, pitching 8 1/3 innings combined in his two starts and compiling a 4.32 ERA.

Cantillo doesn't have a decision yet, but he's missed plenty of bats, striking out 14 and walking just three. He is the youngest active pitcher in the Midwest League (one day younger than fellow 19-year-old Ryan Weathers) and added a curveball to his repertoire in the offseason, which has helped his strikeout numbers climb even higher. He doesn't often pitch deep into games (he's only gotten more than 15 outs once in his pro career), but the TinCaps will likely try to stretch him out as the season goes on. 

The Whitecaps, who come into the game in last place in the Eastern Division but only three games behind the first-place Captains, will counter Cantillo with Wilkel Hernandez, a 20-year-old right-hander. Hernandez isn't a flashy prospect, but he was part of the trade that sent Ian Kinsler from Detroit to Los Angeles and has been solid so far this season after struggling in the Midwest League in 2018. He's 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in two starts in 2019 and has struck out nine while walking only one and scattering nine hits. Fangraphs says he has a decent curveball and could be a fifth starter in the majors at some point. At 6-foot-4 he isn't "overly graceful", but he throws a lot of strikes and gets good downward tilt on his fastball because of his height and arm slot. The TinCaps' offense comes in leading the league in runs per game at 5.1, but will have its work cut out for it tonight.

Fort Wayne is 5-1 at Parkview Field this season and enters tonight just a half-game out of first place in the division. With the heavy air because of the humidity, we could see a pitcher's duel.