ALTOONA, Pa. – With the return of Brandon Waddell to Altoona, as well as an abundance of players who have started in the past on their current roster, it was obvious that the Curve were bound to make a few changes to their starting rotation.
The unexpected move was Casey Sadler being inserted back into the Altoona starting rotation. Before last Thursday, Sadler hasn’t started a game for the Altoona Curve since 2013 and last started a game professionally in 2015 with Indianapolis (before his Tommy John surgery). He has added an inning of work in each of his last four outings, working his way to five innings last Thursday . The organization wants Sadler to get scheduled innings as a starter, so he will be back in the rotation.
Brandon Waddell will be reinstated from the disabled list and start on Monday for the Curve. Waddell made a quick recovery from a PRP injection, which he received in mid June for what they described as forearm tightness. The typical timetable for a return from the treatment is 6-8 weeks, and Waddell was able to get himself built back up fast enough to rejoin the Curve rotation within that time frame.
Waddell has gone on the disabled list with the same injury twice this season – the first back in April – so it was expected that the organization would take their time with him in his recovery. There was no structural damage to his arm, so they felt confident in getting him built back up to pitch out of the rotation again this season.
With the additions of Sadler and Waddell, Cody Dickson and Tanner Anderson will make the move to the bullpen. Anderson has been one of the best and most consistent starters for the Curve this season. He goes to the bullpen with a 3.79 ERA and a 3.18 FIP, which is third best among qualified pitchers in the Eastern League. He also has the best ground ball rate (59.9%) in all of Double-A baseball.
The organization wants to manage Anderson’s innings, as he came into this season pitching as mostly a long man out of the bullpen in the lower levels. He already has 111.2 innings pitched this season compared to only 88 IP last season (plus 26.1 in the AFL).
“It’s an organizational decision,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “He’s had a bunch of innings in his first year starting. We want to limit the innings. He’s up there with those right now, so we are going to bring him out of the pen.”
With Anderson heading to the bullpen, the Altoona rotation lines up like this:
- Brandon Waddell (starting Monday in Altoona)
- Alex McRae
- Casey Sadler
- JT Brubaker
- Austin Coley
The starting rotation has shown great improvements as the year progressed. Over the last 25 games since July 3rd, Curve starters have a 2.84 ERA in 142.2 IP (45 earned runs). That is a big improvement upon the previous 2 1/2 months, when Curve starters had a 4.63 ERA in 79 starts. It all really came together during the Curve’s last road series, when Coley, McRae, and Anderson combined to go 23 innings while only allowing one run in Reading.
Curve Lose Home Run Threats & Must Rely on Playing Small Ball
With the promotion of Edwin Espinal to Triple-A, as well as the injury to Logan Hill, the Curve starting lineup lost 33 combined 2017 home runs between the two players. The majority of Hill’s homers were in Bradenton; however, he replaced Jordan Luplow’s 16 home runs hit before his promotion. Long story short, the Curve have lost a lot of thump from their lineup.
It’s doubtful that Logan Hill will be back this season after breaking his hand on a HBP last week, and Jordan George doesn’t figure to add a lot of home run potential to the lineup; therefore, they must find other ways to get it done.
“We’re going to have to play some small ball,” Ryan said. “That’s the way that our roster is constructed right now. We don’t have a guy that’s going to hit 30. We want to chip away and send five guys up there each inning. The odds are you are going to score a run. Whether it’s a lead-off hit, and we have to bunt him over, a hit and run, or a pressure package on the bases, that’s what we are going to try to do.”
They did just that in the second game of their doubleheader on Saturday, when they sent nine batters to the plate to score five runs. Only one of those hits was extra base hit (a Jordan George double to get things started), and the rest was thanks to good base running, hustle, and taking the extra base when given to them.
Wyatt Mathisen Banged Up; Dario Agrazal Update
Wyatt Mathisen hasn’t played since last Tuesday in Reading, as he’s been sidelined with a hamstring issue. He first felt it when he came in for a ball in Bowie; however, it came to a head after making a play on a baseball in Reading.
“We’ve tried to do a few things, but he’s still feeling it when he has to charge the ball on a control play at third,” Ryan said about Mathisen. “He’s a couple days away from having to push him a little bit.”
With Mathisen sidelined, Anderson Feliz has filled in nicely at third base.
Dario Agrazal, who strained his right pec muscle during his first Double-A start, picked up a baseball for the first time just a few days ago. That is the first he has thrown since the injury. The likelihood of getting Agrazal back sooner rather than later seems bleak, though, as Michael Ryan said that there really isn’t much to report, and there is not timetable for his return.