Back ten games ago, the Clearwater Threshers were three games under .500. They were a good club but seemingly not going any where in the Northern Division of the Florida State League. Over the last ten games through Sunday, the Threshers won eight of ten games and currently have the best record during that time playing .800 baseball. They are now three games over .500 and only two games out of first place.
It’s not hard to see why they have turned their season around. They have a leadoff hitter getting on base and turning double plays at second base. They are getting timely hitting from two outfielders. They have a starter who has not given up any runs in his last two starts and a closer with a 95 mph fast ball who is picking ups saves in the ninth. A simple recipe for winning.
When second baseman Carlos Alonso was given the second base job on an every day basis and put in the lead off spot the Threshers took off. In his last ten games he has hit .300, has an on base percent of .391 and scored ten runs. Even more impressive has been his play in the field. During a two game stretch during the streak he had an assist or putout in 14 straight innings and during this time and helped turn six double plays. Carlos has been a magician at second base making several great catches on high pops to short right field as well.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr is one of the few five tools players in the Phillies system. He showed why over his last ten games. Aaron hit .297 with two home run, 12 RBIs and two stolen bases. He has been out of the lineup in the last two games after a collision with shortstop Jose Mojica, but his .622 slugging percent brought pop to the lineup during the streak.
What can we say about left fielder Cameron Perkins. Though he was rested during one of the last ten games he has hit .385 with six doubles, a triple and a homer for a .667 slugging percent in his last ten. Perkins is leading the FSL in hits with 50 and shows no signs of slowing up. Perkins is still learning to play left field after starting the season in right field but with him, Altherr, Kelly Dugan and Kyrell Hudson in the outfield it is hard to get every one playing time.
The most impressive pitcher in the starting rotation has been lefty Hoby Milner who gets the start tonight. In his last four starts he is 4-0 and has given up only two runs and three walks with 24 strike outs in 24 innings of work. He has not given up a run over his last 16.2 innings. Right now Hoby is the ace of the Threshers staff after struggling in his first three starts of the season.
Gabe Arias has joined the rotation after starting the season in the bullpen. Arias now in his seventh season in the Phillis system has responded in winning his last two starts by going 14 innings giving up only two runs. He has been a model of consistency this season and has one of the lowest ERAs in the high A minor leagues.
This 8-2 streak could not have been successful without a good ninth inning closer. And Luis Garcia with his 95 mph fastball has been that man in close and late games. In his last four outings he pitched seven shutout innings. Luis has picked up three saves on only four hits and six strike outs during the last ten games.
So the Thresher have gone from an under .500 team in April to three games over .500 by mid May and only two games off the pace. The formula they have been using is quite simple by studying the last ten games. A lead off hitter who gets on base, two hitters with pop in the middle of the lineup and good starting and relief pitching. Let’s see if it will continue as Hoby Milner goes for his fifth win of the season tonight.
Maybe other teams should follow the Thresher’s formula! It’s not all that complicated.