THE FLYING TIGERS (4-5, 3.0 GB) … After sweeping the Yankees to start the season, Lakeland has dropped five of their last six games, including three straight to the Manatees in a series at Joker Marchant Stadium. Last night, the Flying Tigers fell 6-2 to Clearwater at Bright House Networks Stadium to stand at 4-5 on the season.
THE MANATEES (6-3, 1.0 GB) … Brevard County is coming off a series with Dunedin in which they dropped two of the three games, scoring just two runs over the trio of contests. After falling 2-0 in eight innings in a rain-shortened game on April 12, the Manatees lost 4-1 in game two on Friday and 1-0 last night. Jed Bradley (1-1, 0.00), who will pitch game three of this series, is one of two Brevard County pitchers who have 0.00 ERAs with Bradley allowing just one unearned run over 13.0 innings with 11 strikeouts and two walks. Taking the mound in game one for the Manatees will be Taylor Jungmann (2-0, 3.09) who beat Lakeland on April 10 with Jimmy Nelson (1-0, 1.80) taking the hill in game two. Shawn Zarraga leads Brevard County with a .421 average but doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the FSL leaders.LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
4/15 – Shawn Teufel (0-0, 0.00) … Making his second start … gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits in 4.0 innings against Brevard County on April 10 … struck out two and walked two in that game … allowed lefties a .500 batting average against while righties hit .222 facing Teufel.
4/16 – Alex Burgos (1-1, 3.00) … making his third start … worked 6.0 innings and gave up two runs in each of his first two starts … struck out 12 and walked 4 over his two starts … beat Tampa in season opener on April 5 and lost to Brevard County on April 11 … righties batted .318 against him; lefties batted .222 vs. Burgos.
4/17 – Kevin Eichhorn (0-0, 3.27) … making his third start … allowed one unearned run on six hits in 6.0 innings in first start against Tampa on April 6 … surrendered four runs on eight hits over 5.0 innings against Clearwater on April 12 … did not factor into decision in either start … righthanders hitting .360 against him; .250 by lefties.
THE SERIES … Brevard County swept the Flying Tigers in a three-game set in Lakeland on April 9-11, taking the first two games by one run, 5-4 and 4-3 and the third by a 5-1 decision. Daniel Fields was 5×12 in the series with a double, a homer and two stolen bases while Nick Castellano and Tyler Collins each went 4×11. Castellanos homered while Collins had a pair of doubles. Lakeland hit .250 in the series while Brevard County hit .239 with TJ Mittelstaedt going 4×9 with a pair of homers and Michael Walker hitting a homer, triple, double and two singles.
DOUBLE DOWN … Doubles have been a big part of the Lakeland offense so far as the club has had at least one double in seven of the nine games and have hit 11 two baggers in the last six games.
SHINING AT NINE … Daniel Fields and Nick Castellanos have each had at least one base hit in each of Lakeland’s nine games so far this season. Fields leads the team with eight runs batted in and is tied for third in the league in that category.
THREE IN TOP TEN … Nick Castellanos, Tyler Collins and Avisail Garcia rank 3-4-5 in the Florida State League batting leaders. Castellanos and Collins both have .417 averages while Garcia is hitting .394 so far. With 15 hits each, Castellanos and Collins are tied with Clearwater’s Peter Lavin for second in the FSL.
FLYING HIGH … In addition to the aforementioned nine-game hit streaks by Daniel Fields and Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia has hit in each of his last eight games and is 10×23 (.435) with four stolen bases during that streak.
GROUNDED … After collecting three hits in each of his first four games, Tyler Collins has cooled off and has been held to three hits overall in his last five games.
DOUBLE DIGIT HITS … Lakeland has had ten or more hits in five games this season and has had no fewer than six hits in every game.
ON THE OTHER HAND … While hitting has improved this season – the team is third in the league with a .276 average – strikeouts are still a problem. The Flying Tigers have whiffed 85 times this season – more than any other FSL team – and have had four games with double digit strikeouts.
ONE-RUN BLUES … Three of Lakeland’s five losses in the last six games have been by one run.
USUAL SPOT … Last season, Lakeland swiped a league low 57 bases. This season, the squad leads the Florida State League with 16 stolen bases with Daniel Fields and Avisail Garcia each tied for the league lead with four stolen bases. The Flying Tigers are second in the league in runs scored and have scored four or more runs in six of the nines games this season.
HITTING IN BUNCHES … Tyler Collins, Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia have each had five multi-hit games while Daniel Fields has had four games with two of more hits. Collins has four games with three hits while Castellanos, Garcia and Fields each have had one three-hit game.
NEEDING THE OFFENSE … Lakeland pitching is 10th in the league with a 3.64 earned run average. After posting a 1.00 in their first four games, the starting staff has a 5.45 mark in the last five contests. Control has not been a problem as the starters have combined for 28 strikeouts and just nine walks over 51.2 innings, however opponents are hitting .274 against the starters so far. The Flying Tigers have been among the league leaders defensively the past few seasons, but are currently seventh in the league this season with a .972 fielding percentage.
SOLID AT FIRST … James Robbins has continued the tradition of good fielding first baseman for Lakeland, leading the FSL in fielding percentage (1.000), total chances (93) and most putouts (88).
ROSTER SHUFFLE … Corey Jones, who was hitting .235 in five game at AA Erie has been added to the Lakeland roster. Jones was Lakeland’s starting second baseman last season, batting .259 with 19 doubles, six homers and 47 RBI in 122 games. To make room on the Flying Tigers roster, Ryan Soares was sent back to extended spring training.
CLOSING IN ON 1700 … Flying Tiger manager Dave Huppert is in his second season with Lakeland and his 24th season as a minor league manager. He brings a 1,671-1,540 record into the Brevard County series.