BRISTOL - If the first 10 games are any indication for how the rest of the season would turn out, the Bristol Blues have a good chance at competing for a championship this season.
With an 8-2 mark, the Blues have the most wins in the Futures League entering the week and have provided plenty of reason to be excited for the final 46 games.
But it’s still a long season and after their latest series against the Brockton Rox, here’s some early observations regarding a Bristol team that has shown both potential and some things to keep an eye on:
LEAVING TOO MANY MEN ON
In their series against the Rox, the Blues didn’t have much difficultly collecting base hits. Bristol came away with a combined 16 over the course of the two games. The problem was leaving too many men on.
The Blues left eight on base in their 11-3 loss to Brockton on Friday and another seven in their 4-3 win on Saturday. Granted it, it’s only the ninth and 10th games of the summer, but Bristol has been slow at times in games generating runs for their pitching staff. The Blues have only scored above four runs or more three times in the early going - a 9-1 win over the Pittsfield Suns on June 1, which was the second game of the season; a 5-4 win over the Sun the next day; and a 6-5 win over the Worcester Bravehearts on June 6.
Overall, Bristol is averaging only 3.8 runs per game and a third to last in total runs in the Futures League, despite playing more games than the three leaders - Martha’s Vineyeard, the Rox and the Bravehearts. The Blues are also tied for last in the league in home runs with zero.
Whether this is just hitters still adjusting to seeing new pitchers remains to be seen, but Bristol’s pitching staff will need to be bailed out by the offense for a game or two down the line. The Blues have the hitters, it’s just a matter of them putting it together.
MCDERMOTT STILL PERFECT
Speaking of the pitching staff, the Blues certainly know when they get into the ninth inning with a lead they have a great chance at winning the game when closer Neal McDermott steps on the mound.
McDermott threw a perfect ninth inning against the Rox on Saturday to continue is strong summer. The sophomore right-hander from Seton Hill is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season and has yet to give up an earned run, run overall or base hit. McDermott also has eight strikeouts to four walks and has only face more than three batters twice in his five outings.
Opponents have just a .235 on-base percentage against him with the closer have an eye-popping .80 WHIP, despite making the most appearances of any Blues pitcher so far. McDermott only had three saves his freshman season in college and finished with a 3.38 ERA in 29.1 innings.
Should he continue to pitch this well, McDermott will certainly be a candidate for the Futures League’s All-Star Game.
BRERETON CONTINUES TO SHINE
If the Blues can depend on any of their hitters from what the first 10 games have shown, it’s infielder Richard Brereton. The junior from Emory University leads the team in hitting with a .393 average and has been head without a base hit in just two of Bristol’s game.
In the series against the Rox, Brereton went 4-for-8, including a 4-for-5 day on Saturday, with two RBI and a run scored. He had a four-game hitting streak prior to Friday’s game and after the team’s latest win has three multi-hit games so far.
Brereton has also shown the ability to be the Blues’ top run producer through the first 10 games. He leads the team with six RBI, catcher Alex Baumann is second with four with three others tied for third with three. And out of the players who play on a regular basis, Brereton leads in on-base percentage (.512), on-base plus slugging (.967) and slugging percentage (.455).
But Brereton also has the ability to be a solid reliever has well. In two games on the mound, he has picked up two wins over four innings of work and given up just two hits and no runs.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org