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Lakeland MLN: Pieces Coming Together
While it was either half their line-up producing, their rotation producing while their bullpen wasn't, vice versa, or none at all, Lakeland had yet to put together a dominant week or even series heretofore, they've finally been able to coalesce. Lakeland, this week, finished with a 5-2 record and is currently riding a four game winning streak. And, although they're five games behind second-place Clearwater for a playoff spot, and their elimination number at six, the Flying Tigers have caught fire just in time for a second-half playoff run. If they can keep up their single-unit play for two weeks, Lakeland will swing right into the second half swining hot. Remember: If Lakeland finishes in the top two of the FSL North strictly based on second-half records, they'll score a playoff berth. A constantly improving staff, still anchored, and led, by one closer This is the first time pitching has been the first section of an article, but it is well deserving of the lead. Kenny Faulk has yet to relent. On May 27th, 29th, and June 1st, Faulk tossed earned another three saves while striking out three and allowing no runs. He's ensconced himself in the top of the Florida State Division with 14 saves, and is two behind Dunedin's Wes Etheridge and four behind Clearwater's stellar Justin Friend. He leads all closers with 33 strikeouts. But, aside from the statistics Faulk is accumulating, he's also garnering the trust of the starting pitching and the rest of the bullpen who are, in turn, leaving Faulk with plenty of save opportunities. The pitcher of the week is indubitably Jared Wesson. Wesson, through 12 innings in two starts, snuck his record up to an impressive 7-3. On the 27th Wesson tossed seven innings while only allowing two earned runs, and on the 1st threw five while allowing two. In those 12 innings? One strikeout per inning. Another starter impressing the coaches and receiving positive murmurs from some scouts, is 6'3" starter Victor Larez. Between a short appearance in relief to help the club and a seven inning start yesterday, Larez threw an impressive ten shutout innings while melting offenses and allowing only six hits and striking out nine. Behind them and before Faulk the bullpen has bounced back after a shirt production hiatus. Aside from retaining Shawn Teuful from the 7-day disabled list (oblique) Ryan Robowski and Tyler Stohr have, after days of minimal production or appearances, fed the ninth on a plate to Faulk. Stohr, after a rough patch in early May, threw three perfect innings in two appearances with six strikeouts. Robowski, in his only appearance, has begun his path back to trustworthiness, throwing one perfect inning. And while the defense allowed only 22 runs in 63 innings this week, the offense contributed their half of the simple equation… Heavy Hitters …The offense scored 11 more runs than the defense allowed this week. The table has been set not only for a playoff-worthy second half, but constantly in the lineup. Gustavo Nunez's speed is finally becoming a game-changer. Since the 26th he's swiped six bases, raising his total to ten, and collected ten hits in 24 at-bats. His OBP still has some room for improvement, especially as a leadoff hitter, but still rests, solidly, at .373. His partner atop the lineup, Brent Wyatt, has made up for some of the lack, though, with an attention-worthy .425 OBP. Lakeland's power trio has kept the power on high, too, to eat up all that Nunez and Wyatt set up. Both Tony Plagman and Gaynor blasted homers and Plagman drive in four runs, increasing his RBI total to 41, good for fourth in the FSL. And while Jared Wesson is the pitcher of the week, Jordan Lennerton definitely takes that accolade. While going 10-for-24 Lennerton drive in six RBI and walked five times. He's increased his batting average to .270. Looking forward to an auspicious second half In the final two weeks of the first half the season Lakeland plays four different teams. They match up against Fort Myers, who they've beaten three games in a row, for two more games, and then face Tampa in three straight. After a day off on the seventh, they play Daytona three times, Brevard County, and then Tampa three times. Making Moves It has been a busy week for the Tigers organization, with no exception of Lakeland. In the past seven days they've send RHP Zach Samuels and "spunky" OF Michael Rockett to Erie while receiving RHP Cory Hamilton in exchange. They've also sent Ryan Soares, who was picking into Corey Jones' playing time, to West Michigan and sent C Jeff Kunkel to Toledo. They acquired 1B James Meador from EST, and activated LFP Shawn Teufel from the 7-day DL.
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