It has not been a fun series against Great Lakes for the TinCaps. They lost an extra-inning matchup in the series opener and then fell behind early and never really recovered in an ugly 9-3 loss Sunday.
Today, they have a chance to salvage one game in the three-game set and avoid getting swept at Parkview Field for the first time since May 3-5 against Quad Cities. The TinCaps enter tonight's game tied with Dayton for last place in the Eastern Division, and it would certainly be a psychological boost to climb out of the cellar as quickly as possible and get back on the right track in the push for the playoffs.
The pitcher tasked with getting the TinCaps off to a better start than they had on Sunday – when they fell behind 3-0 in the first inning and 7-1 by the fourth – is 23-year-old right-hander Gabe Mosser. Mosser's starts will bookend the homestand; he started the opener on June 25 and will go again today to finish the seven-game stretch at Parkview Field. He'd been red-hot coming into that last start, but he'll have something to prove tonight. Last time out, the tall right-hander gave up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits in just 5 1/3 innings. It was a particularly difficult start for him because he'd struck out 42 and walked two in his previous six outings, but had three strikeouts and three walks in that start. Despite that rough outing, Mosser still ranks fourth in the league in strikeouts with 76 and leads the circuit in K/BB rate by a significant margin at 6.73 (second place is 5.45).
Great Lakes will counter with one of their best pitchers, 22-year-old left-hander John Rooney, a third-round pick in the 2018 draft. Rooney has been on a nearly Joey Cantillo-like roll since the start of June. In that time, the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder has gone 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. He had a string of 21 2/3 scoreless innings going (including five in a start against the TinCaps on June 20) before giving up two runs in five innings his last time out.
Fangraphs was particularly bullish on Rooney's potential when its prospect writers broke down the Dodgers' system in May:
"Rooney doesn’t throw all that hard, but his fastball plays up a bit thanks to good angle and extension, he has impressive changeup feel (and an incredible pickoff move) for a cold-weather, small school prospect. His curveball is hard, has good shape, but lacks bite and raw spin."
It should be a good pitching matchup in the series finale. The TinCaps also announced a pitching change on their roster today. The Padres demoted right-hander Angel Acevedo to short-season Tri-City after he gave up seven runs in three innings yesterday, raising his ERA to 6.53 for the season and running his record to 0-7. I expect him back at some point this year, but he needs to regain his confidence.
In place of Acevedo, the Padres promoted another 20-year-old right-hander, Edwuin Bencomo from rookie ball to the Midwest League. Bencomo has spent his entire four-season career in rookie ball, splitting his time between starting and relieving. He had a 4.04 ERA in 42 1/3 innings last season, though his peripheral stats were better, mostly because he didn't walk many. This season he's only pitched 5 2/3 live innings, but he's struck out 11 and walked none in that work.