The TinCaps enter the final leg of their season-long 10-game homestand tonight, fresh off a Sunday doubleheader sweep against the West Michigan Whitecaps. Those two games were two of the better offensive performances the TinCaps have had recently, as they scored runs via both the home run (three different players went deep for Fort Wayne) and the bunt (a pair of squeeze plays in the first game brought in two runs). They went 6 for 13 with runners in scoring position and were generally tough to retire up and down the lineup.
The TinCaps' hitters will have their work cut out for them against a Bowling Green team that comes in playing as well as anyone in minor-league baseball. The Hot Rods have won 14 of their last 15 games, including a 13-game win streak that ended Saturday. They rank second in the league in team ERA at 3.16 and have struck out more than a batter per inning as a team. That's 661 strikeouts in 632 1/3 innings.
One of the Bowling Green pitchers who hasn't been quite as dominant this season is 20-year-old Resly Linares, tonight's starter. The left-hander has posted a 5.09 ERA in five starts this season, though he's been sidelined by an undisclosed injury for a good portion of the year. Still, he's a talented pitcher. Fangraphs ranked him the No. 13 prospect in the Tampa Bay organization and said he hit 95 mph with his fastball in 2017. The lefty showed off his stuff in his most recent start on June 17, going five shutout innings and giving up just one hit while striking out eight.
He'll take on TinCaps All-Star left-hander Nick Margevicius, who retired the Western Division in order in the fourth inning of the All-Star Game in Lansing. The 21-year-old Margevicius has been solid all year, putting together a 3.09 ERA. In fact, he's been even better than that, as his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), a measure that attempts to strip a team's fielding performance out of a pitcher's ERA, sits at 2.44. That's the best in the league by a full third of a run.
Expect Margevicius to go deep into the game tonight, as well. He's pitched at least five innings in every start since April 29 and has gone seven at least three times. He'll have to pitch carefully against a Bowling Green team that is hitting a league-leading .278 as a team and has scored the second-most runs (402) of any Midwest League group.
Simply put, this is an extremely talented team the TinCaps will take on over the next three days. They have the opportunity to make a statement early in the second half that they intend to be a player in the Eastern Division race.