Everyone get excited, it's Joey Cantillo Day. This is the day the best pitcher in the Midwest League (that's not really a debate at this point) takes the mound and continues his quest for a potential pitching triple crown.
The only factor that could dampen the enthusiasm for Cantillo's start is the forecast, which calls for rain all night and could wash out Princess Night at Parkview Field. If the game does happen, however, Cantillo will have a chance to pitch the TinCaps to a series victory, which would be the team's third in a row at home. They played a solid all-around game Sunday and are trying to rebuild some momentum before they go back out on the road starting Tuesday against Great Lakes.
Cantillo has been terrific for the vast majority of the season and he's coming off a start that was dominant even by his standards. The 19-year-old left-hander struck out 10, tying a season-high, walked only one and gave up two runs in six innings in that last outing, which came against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After that performance, Cantillo leads the league in ERA, K/BB rate, opponent's batting average (a stunning .178) and WHIP, while also ranking second in strikeouts and fourth in wins. The elements of a pitching triple crown are wins, ERA and strikeouts and Cantillo is within striking distance of the lead in all three. If he stays with Fort Wayne all season, he will have a credible chance of pulling off a rare feat.
The TinCaps left-hander will face off tonight with fellow 19-year-old Lyon Richardson, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and the 12th-ranked prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, according to Fangraphs. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is just 2-7 this season and his ERA is 4.45, but his underlying stats are mostly average and he has a hard fastball that touches 96 mph (though it usually sits 93-94). Richardson hasn't pitched more than three innings in any of his previous three starts, so the TinCaps could see plenty of bullpen arms today.
The Dayton starter and the relievers to follow will face a TinCaps lineup that includes Dwanya Williams-Sutton, who has been one of the league's hottest hitters in recent weeks. Williams-Sutton has vaulted to the top of the league's OBP charts at .406 and today for the first time he has enough plate appearances to qualify for the title. He comes in riding a 15-game on-base streak, though he hasn't gotten hit yet in this series against the Dragons. He remains at 19, four behind the all-time Fort Wayne record of 23.
If these teams do defy the rain and play today, the TinCaps have a chance to get above .500 at home (they come in 25-25) and bounce back from a sweep at the hands of Bowling Green with a series victory. All of that is overshadowed by the guy Fort Wayne will send to the mound, but it's important too, lest we forget.