The Alcohol. Think Again Perth roster for round three is up and ready! Right here! The initial knee jerk is that the news could have been better but it could have been much worse. The bad news is one of your key pieces in Benn Grice will not make the trip. Grice was clearly missed last weekend and was a huge part of the series win at Melbourne. He earned two big saves and two key threats for the Aces were snuffed out by the veteran “righty”.
The good news is that Scott Mitchinson will return this trip. The other key cog in the Heat pen and one that was also missed last weekend will bear the brunt of the high leverage situations along with Cameron Lamb. The vets will be given the task of turning back the clock to their vintage years. Both have shown there is no slowing them down with Lamb finishing strong last year and carrying it over to this season and Mitchinson has done what he always does and that is be the “Guy” in the tight spots for the Heat.
There are two ways to look that roster that will be once again be short handed. Either just flat out out score Sydney and keep the pressure on with the speed game or get shut down pitching. In a perfect world you would get both. The offence will come in second in the ABL with a team clip of .289 and the league lead in homers with 14. The team was overshadowed by a red hot Brisbane attack and Mitch Nilsson but the club still managed to do some things at the plate over the series and with Tim Kennelly on this trip along with Ulrich Bojarski the bats should be in fine shape. If the task is score plenty the club could be poised to do just that along with the speed attack. The league leader in stolen bases is Jake Fraley with 10 (the next closest is Aaron Whitefield with three) and the team has 14 overall to lead the ABL. That creates some huge pressure on the defence of Sydney as well as a deep 1-9 lineup that their pitching staff must face.
If the Heat are getting starters pulled with an out in the fifth and runners on you are playing with fire. Shut down pitching will require the same if not even better effort the team go in Melbourne. Anything like Friday and Saturday last week against Brisbane and the Heat will be hoping for the weather to rain out those two games. That means the most important start to gauge where this team’s needs are will be Saturday for Kyle Simon. If the Heat can get him in a groove then things will settle a bit and the focus can be on the bullpen. Another outing like last week and the alarm may sound on the ship.
The Kyle Simon start is a big one on Saturday in game one. As we mentioned last night on the air his numbers tell us that he should be a solid performer in the ABL. He had six complete games in 23 starts last year. He is two years removed from being moved into a full time starter and over that time his ERA in 16 was 2.77 and in 17 he hit 3.94. In seven pro seasons he has a 3.70 ERA in 618 innings of work. Those are the type of first glance numbers that should translate to success. Second look numbers tell us 2.2 walks per nine innings including a year in 16 where he was under 1.8 per nine.
Take Simon’s WHIP (Walks, hits and innings pitched) on of those newer saber-metric type numbers. It is a career 1.29. The Big League average is 1.30 and considered a good number. For his career he is spot on and taking a look at his overall numbers every season he has pitched over 20 innings he has been 1.38 or lower. Sometimes numbers lie but his tell a story that we have seen time and time again for veteran import arms. Those type of numbers should do well in the ABL period end of story. It is not a question of his abilities it may be more is he game ready? For the Heat they need him this weekend and going forward to allow the brass to shift the focus to the pen and those issues.
Did I mention the forecast? As of Wednesday the weather man says rain and more rain of Sydney on Saturday. The other two days are fine but Saturday looks dicey. Just another reason why the double headers are a nightmare but we will save that debate for the off season. The Heat will have an even better roster at the plate than two weeks ago for the road opener and that should be a huge benefit to carrying the team through to a series win.