THE MONDAY HIVE: Late-Season Run Will Depend On Pitching Balance

By John Bohnenkamp

The rainout of Sunday’s game at Danville gave the Burlington Bees something they weren’t going to have for a while — a day off.

It would have been the fifth game in what was going to be a 20-games-in-20-days stretch for the Bees as they try to get a second-half playoff berth in the Prospect League.

The game isn’t going to be rescheduled — the Bees and Dans don’t play again this season — which could play a factor in the playoff chase. The Bees (15-25 overall, 4-5 second half) are percentage points behind Normal in the Great River Division.

But what helps is a day off when pitching is at such a premium in the closing weeks.

Some pitchers are on either a pitch count or an innings limit after either a lot of work during the college season or no work at all. Other pitchers may not be on a limit, but are tiring after a long college season followed by two months of summer-league play.

And, arms are at a premium at this point of the summer anyway. With so many college leagues going around the nation, everyone is looking for help.

That’s why getting to the end of the season with a pitching staff intact is going to be important in the playoff race.

“I think, truthfully, it will be (important),” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “If you’ve got pitching, if you’ve got good pitchers, if you’ve got more of them than a lot of other people, you’re going to be better off.”

The management of the workload of the Bees’ pitching could be seen last week.

Cauy Massner went seven innings in the 5-1 loss to Springfield on Monday. It was the longest outing by a Bees’ pitcher this season, but Massner threw only 87 pitches, eight under the league’s pitch limit for a game.

Oreskovich used three pitchers in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss at Lafayette. Starter Garrett Moltzan threw 75 pitches in six innings, and relievers Hamilkar Medina and Tucker Cole each threw one inning.

Three pitchers were used in the 4-0 loss to Lafayette on Thursday — Paolo Zavala went five innings, Nick Tampa went one and Jaxon Ingram went two.

Oreskovich used just two pitchers in the 5-4 loss at Terre Haute on Friday — Jared Townsend (5 ⅓ innings) and CJ Lewis (2 ⅔). Trevor McGee (4 ⅓ innings) and Weston Fulk (⅔ of an inning) pitched in Saturday’s rain-shortened 16-5 win at Danville.

The Prospect League has strict pitch-limit rules, but Oreskovich said the key is knowing when a pitcher is ready to come out of a game.

“Because you’re not burning kids, you’re not trying to get something extra out of a kid, like get an extra inning or something,” Oreskovich said. “Like just because he’s not at the pitch count, but he’s gassed. You don’t want to do that to kids. I don’t want to do that to kids. I want to keep them safe, keep them healthy.”

There still could be additions to the Bees’ pitching staff. Any arm would be an asset.

“We have a kid signed to a (temporary) contract, we’re waiting on him to get a flight here,” Oreskovich said. “We’ve got a few other kids in mind who might be coming, might not be coming, we don’t know yet.

“We’re trying to get as much as we can with what we’ve got, but not try to hurt them either. We’re trying to be smart with everything. It’s their career. They’re the ones who have to keep playing the game after this summer. We just have to take care of them, be smart.”

Photo: Hamilkar Medina has been one of the late additions to the Bees’ pitching staff. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

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