GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Welcome to the first edition of Whitecaps 3 Up/3 Down. Who knows, it could be the final edition.
This will become a weekly feature here on FOX17online.com where we highlight three Whitecaps who had a great week and three Whitecaps (or now former Whitecaps) who have had better weeks. We’ll go over their combined stats for the week and then wrap it up with a quick look at what’s ahead for the Caps.
Alright now that we’re all set with that let’s play ball!
2B Devon Travis: .407 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, 1.000 OPS
Through the first four weeks of the season, your Whitecaps MVP so far has been Devon (pronounced Devin) Travis. Every MVP has a signature moment (yes I know it’s way too early, but just roll with me here, ok) and Travis had his on Monday, April 22, against the Lake County Captains at Fifth Third Ballpark. He went 4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI’s. His first home run was of the traditional kind. His second home run was an inside-the-park job. His On-base-plus-slugging (OPS) that day was 3.000. The rest of his week wasn’t too bad either and he’s now riding an eight-game hitting streak.
OF Jake Stewart: .370 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1.007 OPS
So one day after Travis had his monster game, 22-year old outfielder Jake Stewart decided to have a monster game of his own. Stewart went 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. He finished the day with an OPS of 2.000. Oh, and he added a stolen base for good measure. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, while Travis big day helped lead them to an 8-4 win, Stewart’s big day was a side note in a 8-5 loss to the Captains thanks to the wheels falling off at the end for the Whitecaps (more on that in the DOWN portion). As for the rest of the week, Stewart had two home runs in back-to-back games against the Timber Rattlers in Wisconsin.
The home run in the second game was a little bitter-sweet however. Just before Stewart left the yard, David Gonzalez was thrown out trying to steal second. Didn’t seem like a big deal as Stewart’s now solo shot made it 5-2 Whitecaps in the top of the seventh inning. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Wisconsin scored five times. To make matters worse for Stewart, the eventual game-winning run scored thanks in part to Stewart mishandling a base hit in center field.
RP Jose Valdez: 4 G, 4.0 IP, 1 SV, 0 H, o R, 5 BB, 3 K
I strongly considered putting starting pitcher Hudson Randall here, but look, this ain’t 4 Up/4 Down. Valdez gets the nod because the guy is practically unhittable so far. He worked in four games this week without giving up a single hit and in nine appearances (9.0 IP) so far this season, Valdez has given up just two hits. He earned only one save this week, but it was his fourth of the season.
Valdez has a fastball that has hit 99 on the radar gun and usually sits in the 96-97 mph range with the weather warming up. He also has a pretty nasty slider and a makeup that reminds some of Fernando Rodney. He enjoys the moment, but also prefers to come in when the game is on the line and struggles to get up when it isn’t a save or important situation.
One concern though is his command. Valdez walked at least one batter in every single outing this week and five overall. So far this season he’s walked eight in just nine innings of work. One reason: he may be throwing to the radar gun at times. He seems to have more control of his slider than his fastball which leads one to believe he might be infatuated with the big numbers his fastball can put up on the board.
OF Austin Schotts: .250 BA, 3 R, 2 RBI, 9 K
Let’s start with the good news: Austin had a great game Saturday. He was 3-for-3 and stole two bases. Now for the bad news: the rest of the week he was 2-for-17 with nine strikeouts. In 61 at-bats this season, Schotts has struck out 30 times.
More good news: Schotts isn’t getting too down on himself yet. In the Caps first game in Appleton against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Schotts struck out three times. One of the Timber Rattler’s promotions is for each strikeout for the Wisconsin pitchers, they toss out frisbees to the fans. After the game, Schotts jokingly asked some of his teammates on the bus ride home if anyone picked up a frisbee since he did his best to get them out to everyone.
RP Angel Nesbitt: 2 G, 1 L, 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 2 K
Here’s another guy who we can start with some good news. Nesbitt pitched very well Sunday for the Whitecaps. He worked a perfect eighth inning (3 Up/3 Down shout-out) with one strikeout. A great sign for a guy the Whitecaps were counting on to be their eighth-inning man this spring. However, his first outing of this week came in that aforementioned 8-5 loss to the Lake County Captains on Wednesday.
The Whitecaps were leading 4-3 going into the eighth inning. Nesbitt gave up two runs on two hits. Because the Whitecaps were already down two pitchers in the bullpen and he wasn’t sure if the game would go extra innings, Whitecaps manager Larry Parrish sent Nesbitt out to work the ninth. Luigi Rodriguez hit a wind-aided two-run home run to right and Eric Haase hit a who-freaking-cares-about-this-wind home run two batters later and a one-run game turned into a four-run game that the Whitecaps would end up losing by three. Nesbitt’s line for that game: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 HR and his ERA ballooned to 12.91.
1B/3B Matt Perry
Perry wasn’t down this week. He was out. He was released by the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday to make room for Jeff Holm who was reactivated from the Disabled List.
The Whitecaps have two more games in Beloit against the Snappers and then come back to West Michigan to start a six-game homestand on Wednesday. The Caps will host Cedar Rapids and then Quad Cities for three game sets each.