NWA Week in Review: July 30 – August 5
Weekly Record: 6-1
Overall Record: 53-60, 18-25 in the second half
Standings: 3rd (8.0 GB)
Weekly +/-: +12 (39 runs scored, 27 runs allowed)
7/31 – Bryan Brickhouse placed on DL
7/31 – Grant Gavin activated from DL
8/3 – Khalil Lee placed on DL
8/3 – Alfredo Escalera activated from DL
Overview. The Naturals had a tremendous week going 6-1 against division opponents Arkansas and Springfield. They have been the hottest team in the Texas League for the last two weeks. If you go back to July 19, the Naturals are 14-5 overall and have won four series and tied just one. Over the last two weeks the Naturals have outscored opponents by a combined 30 runs. Things are clicking just like I thought they would preseason and coming into the second half before a horrible stretch of play. As a season ticket holder, I am really happy with the Naturals current play.
On Monday, Foster Griffin started the week with a good start against the Travelers going 5.2 innings allowing just 2 ER on 7 H, 2 BB, and 3 K. Griffin got credit for the win. Kort Peterson went 3-3 with a double and a home run in the game while Erick Mejia went 2-3.
Tuesday it was Luis Lugo’s turn to give the Naturals a good start on the mound getting a no decision but throwing 6.2 innings allowing just 2 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and 5 K. Peterson was 3-5 with a triple in this game.
On Wednesday, Jace Vines gave the Naturals a good start going 6.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 7 H, 2 BB, and 5 K before the Naturals bullpen blew the lead giving up a total of 10 runs in the 7th and 8th innings. Mejia stole his 30th base of the season in this game and went 3-4 with the bat with a double. Samir Duenez went 3-3 and Peterson went 2-3 with a double and home run.
Emilio Ogando had another good start against Springfield on Thursday getting a win and going 6.0 innings allowing no runs on 4 H, 3 BB, and 2 K. Duenez went 3-4 with a double, home run, and 4 RBI. Peterson went 2-4 with a double and triple while Jecksson Flores went 2-4 with a SB.
Scott Blewett got credit for a win on Friday going 6.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 5 H, 2 BB, and 8 K. Kelvin Gutierrez went 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBI.
Griffin made a second start on the week and was dominate touching 90 several times getting the win in a 1-0 ball game. Griffin went 7.0 innings allowing no runs on 7 H, 2 BB, and 6 K. Griffin has thrown really well in his last four starts. Flores hit a two out triple to get the momentum going before Duenez drove him in a few pitches later with a solid single. Saturday was also Salvy Splash bobblehead night. The bobbleheads are actually pretty cool and were gone in a hurry. 2,000 bobbleheads were gone in about 15 minutes so if you missed out on one make sure you get there earlier next time!
On Sunday Lugo made his second start of the week getting a no decision on 4.2 innings allowing 4 ER on 5 H, 3 BB, and 3 K. It wasn’t an awful start and his team was still able to get the win, but in the seven starts of the week it was the worst. That basically means your starting pitchers had a really good week when five of your starts were 6.0 innings and one was 5.2 innings. The bullpen should be rested heading into this last month of the minor league season. Gutierrez hit a home run and a walk off single in this game while Anderson Miller went 2-4 with a double.
Peterson has been on fire over the last week of play hitting .458 over the last 7 games. In that time he has posted 3 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs while scoring 5 R and driving in 8. Peterson has 3 BB and 9 K while stealing 1 base. Peterson’s OBP was 51.9% for the week and his OPS was an outstanding 1.519 for those 7 games. If you stop and wonder what could have been, think about what could have been if Peterson would have made contact in those nine ABs he struck out over the week. Another couple extra base hits and some RBI at the least. Maybe a 2.000 OPS week? Josh Payton wrote about Kort last week and you can read that here.
Mike Sweeney has spent some time in Springdale this week and Anderson Miller spent a lot of time talking with him. Miller has been swinging it well over the last week hitting .316 with 2 doubles, a triple, 3 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, and just 2 K. In the article I wrote over Miller I highlighted his abilities when he isn’t striking out. I’m hoping that he will go on a hot streak as he has been making good contact lately.
Gutierrez is working on a 4-game hitting streak and hit .321 on the week with 2 home runs, 5 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, and 2 SB. When Gutierrez was traded to the Royals he was really tense as a player his first 10 or so games with the Naturals. Since then, he has really calmed down and allowed himself to just play. Over the last two weeks you’ve seen his abilities. Gutierrez is now hitting .274 in 38 games with the Naturals. He has 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 home runs during that time while 7 bases in 8 attempts. His defense has been incredible as evidenced by a two-step sliding back-handed stop topped by a strong throw across the infield in the game Saturday night. Josh wrote about Gutierrez today and you can read that here.
Flores is working on a 6-game hitting streak and hit .310 with 2 doubles, a triple, 10 R, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, and 4 SB. Scoring 10 runs in 7 games is an impressive feat. Josh wrote about Flores this week and you can read that here.
Duenez has a 5-game hitting streak going and hit .346 over the week with 2 doubles, a home run, 6 R, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, and 2 SB.
Several guys deserve mention out of the bullpen for performance. Those guys are listed below.
Pedro Fernandez had a solid week pitching in three games recording a save in 5.0 innings allowing 0 R on 1 H, 1 BB, and 5 K. Opponents hit just .063 against him. I wrote about Fernandez deserving a promotion and he made me look good this week. You can read that here.
Andres Machado pitched in three games getting two saves and a win. Machado threw 4.0 innings allowing 0 ER on 1 H, 1 BB, and 4 K. Opponents were 1-12 against him.
Yunior Marte threw in three games going 3.2 innings allowing 0 R on 1 H, 1 BB, and 5 K. Opponents were also 1-12 against him on the week.
Walker Sheller pitched in three games getting a win while going 4.1 innings allowing 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, and 2 K.
Gabe Speier pitched in two games going 3.1 innings allowing 0 R on 4 H, 2 BB, and 2 K.
Upcoming. The Naturals get to relax on a much needed day off Monday before hosting Midland and Frisco for three games each. This is the last trip for both these teams to Springdale for the season so if you would like to catch the prospects for the A’s or the Rangers, you better do it this week. On August 10 the Naturals will be hosting a pre-game concert featuring David Dunn as part of Faith & Family Night. By the way, there are only 26 games left in the Naturals season!