BRISTOL - And then there were two.
After putting together an exciting starting pitching staff of Jack Moore, Mark Faello, Ryan Lauk, Arjun Thakar, James Judenis and Cam Van Hoorebeke, the Bristol Blues’ original six-man rotation has been whittled down to just Faello and Judenis.
Moore and Thakar left with injuries in the first week of July, and this week, manager Ronnie Palmer and his staff were informed both Lauk and Van Hoorebeke have seen their time in Bristol come to a close.
On Monday, Wagner College baseball head coach Jim Carone pulled the plug on Lauk’s summer, letting the Blues staff know the right-handed Tommy John surgery returnee had reached his innings limit.
And on Wednesday night, after he had thrown one inning in a brief start, left-hander Van Hoorebeke informed the coaching staff that Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said he was done for the summer as well.
“Obviously, you wanna have the same staff together the whole summer, but you know that’s just not gonna happen,” Palmer said. “That’s just the nature of where we’re at with pitch counts and things of that nature.”
Lauk was one of the FCBL’s top arms, earning his way to the final fan vote for the All-Star game. He leaves Bristol after having gone 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA, 47 strikeouts and just 16 walks in seven starts (41⅔ innings).
Van Hoorebeke arrived at Muzzy Field on June 10 and provided some more stability to the back end of the rotation, finishing with a 1-2 record with a 4.87 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 14 walks in six starts (24 innings).
“You just roll with it. You roll with the punches,” Palmer said. “At this point in the summer, I compare it to a jigsaw puzzle. You have pieces that you think are in the right place, and then get mixed up or somebody scrambles it out and you have to find another piece to put in there to make it work.”
Palmer isn’t surprised with how many pitchers have come and gone this summer. That’s the nature of the summer collegiate baseball business.
“A lot of summer baseball programs and organizations go through this,” Palmer said. “The attrition rate of pitchers is bigger than position guys because college coaches really wanna protect their guys’ arms.”
But still …
“This year, the attrition rate for us has been a little greater than in years past,” Palmer said. “You just have freak things happen with a tight shoulder, elbow soreness, a stiff back, a knee injury or whatever it may be.”
Already facing the loss of their two best bullpen arms in lights-out closer Will Nowak, the team’s best pro prospect, and its most stable middle reliever, Dom Niman, the Blues were forced to sign five pitchers this month.
With the loss of Lauk and Van Hoorebeke, the Blues have already scoured the market for additional arms - with their sights set on Shane Bogli of Westfield State University - and more will soon follow.
“To add five guys this late is a little bit outside the norm,” Palmer said. “We’ll get them, run them out there and get them as comfortable as quickly as we can in those roles, and we’ll just keep giving them work and do what we do.”
As for how the staff will handle filling out their starting rotation, it projects to be All-Star Faello at the top followed by Judenis and Matt Shane. After that, it gets more cluttered as the Blues may turn to “bullpen games” and may have to plug and place guys into those spots the rest of the summer.
One pitcher who will almost certainly get a chance to start is Tyler Boisvert of Post University.
Palmer, the school’s athletic director, was familiar with the right-handed pitcher and signed him on July 5.
After two rough relief outings in which he surrendered seven runs on seven hits in two innings, Boisvert rebounded with a terrific two-hit shutout, earning the victory with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings of relief in Bristol’s 14-0 win over the Nashua Silver Knights on Wednesday night.
“You’re never gonna be successful unless you learn how to struggle a little bit,” Palmer said. “In those struggles, there’s always progression. With that progression, eventually it’s gonna come together like it did for Tyler Boisvert [Wednesday night]. He struggled in his first couple outings, but I knew the stuff that he had. I knew he had some good stuff, and it all worked for him.”
Boisvert is the epitome of the mentality Palmer and his crew will have to adopt during the season’s final sprint.
“Next man up is what it is,” Palmer said. “Next man up - here’s your shot. Let’s see what you got.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or