Today in Chiefsville: April 14th, 2016 – ‘First’ Time on the Road

‘First’ Time on the Road:

At some point here soon, we’ll be able to stop having to quantify each of the Chiefs’ firsts this season with quotes. Despite already playing two games away from NBT Bank Stadium as ‘home’ games, Syracuse starts its ‘official’ road schedule today with a trip to the defending I.L. North champs. It’s a RailRiders team that once again boasts prospects like Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, Slade Heathcott and 2015 I.L. All-Star Ben Gamel. The newest edition to the RailRiders is Nick Swisher, who spent a few games in Syracuse last year rehabbing with Columbus (Kevin talked to Nick last year for our pregame show). He’ll play his first game with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight.

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The weekend series is an early battle for first place in the I.L. North. Despite all the craziness of the last week of postponements and doubleheaders, its the Chiefs firmly atop the I.L. standings, having managed to find their way through this difficult stretch. Syracuse has tallied a lot of extra base runners on walks and used its team speed once on base to put together enough runs to back up its outstanding pitching. The Chiefs are second in the I.L. in walks, second in OBP, tied for first in sacrifice bunts, and second in stolen bases. Now the task turns to getting those runs home, as the Chiefs have left 30 runners on base over the last two games (19 innings). They’ll try to do that tonight at 6:35. Hope you can join us then.


 Game #6 – Syracuse Chiefs (4-1) vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (4-2)

PNC Field, Moosic, Pennsylvania

Pregame 6:20 p.m. // First Pitch 6:35 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 // SyracuseChiefs.com

RHP Taylor Jordan (0-0, 1.80) vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (0-0, 2.25)


Today’s Lineup Card:

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Pregame Sound:

Yesterday’s Highlights

Today’s Interview – Brendan Ryan


Roster Moves:

None


Today’s Headlines:

Trea Bien: IF Trea Turner – Baseball America’s #9 MLB prospect – has started his 2016 season on a torrid pace. Turner has reached base in 12 of his 20 plate appearances this year, tallying seven hits and five walks. For the young season, Turner is tied for the league lead in stolen bases, fourth in OBP, and tied for third in runs scored.

LOB City: The Chiefs have put a ton of runners on base so far this year. Through five games (38 offensive innings), Syracuse has tallied 62 base runners, putting an average of 1.63 base runners/inning. Over the last two games however, the Chiefs have left a total of 30 runners on base (20 innings).

Success from the Bump: The Chiefs pitching staff held Buffalo to just two runs in 13 innings yesterday, continuing a solid start to the season. Syracuse holds the second-best staff ERA in the I.L. so far at 1.76. The Chiefs’ starting rotation has been especially good so far, allowing just four earned runs in 24 innings pitched.

Let’s Play Nine: Entering the Chiefs’ sixth game of the season tonight, Syracuse has still not played a nine- inning game. After the first six days of the season have had games either postponed or played as seven-inning doubleheaders, Syracuse and Buffalo concluded their series with a 13-inning affair yesterday.

Air Jordan: Taylor Jordan gets the ball for the Chiefs for the second time this season. The right-hander allowed just one run in five innings last Friday against Lehigh Valley. Jordan will be pitching on five days’ rest tonight, a recipe that served him well last year. In 12 starts on regular rest (4 or 5 days), Jordan held a 1.23 ERA (10 ER/73.1 IP). Conversely, on starts of odd rest (<5 days, MLB Call up, etc.), Jordan’s ERA was 6.89 (24 ER/30.1 IP).

Alone at the Top: The Chiefs have been at first place for six consecutive days on the young season. Last year, Syracuse did not end a day of the regular season in either first or second place.

Family Reunion: Chiefs C Jhonatan Solano is reunited with his brother, IF Donovan Solano, today. The two played together last season in the Marlins’ organization, both for Miami and Triple-A New Orleans. The Solano brothers also played against each other in 2013 when Jhonatan made his MLB debut for Washington.

Today in Chiefsville: April 13, 2016 – Let’s Play Nine

Let’s Play Nine

After four seven inning contests and six days of postponements, home games on the road, and doubleheaders, the Chiefs will play a game as previously scheduled when they host the Bisons this afternoon. The Chiefs will debut the Nats’ #9 prospect Austin Voth, who starts in Triple-A this year after being named the Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015. On the other side, Drew Hutchison, who won 13 games with Toronto last season, gets the ball for the Bisons. We look forward to talking to you this afternoon.


 Games #5 – Syracuse Chiefs (3-1) vs. Buffalo Bisons (3-3)

NBT Bank Stadium, Syracuse, New York

Pregame 12:50 p.m. // First Pitch 1:05 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 // SyracuseChiefs.com

RHP Austin Voth (0-0, -.–) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (0-1, 1.80)


Today’s Lineup:

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Today’s Interview – Brian Daubach:


Roster Moves:

None


Today’s Headlines:

Trea Bien: IF Trea Turner – Baseball America’s #9 MLB prospect – has started his 2016 season on a torrid pace. Turner reached base six times in seven plate appearances yesterday, going 5 for 6 with a walk, and tallying a double, stolen base, run scored and an RBI. For the season, Turner has reached base in 10 of his 13 plate appearances with four runs scored and has stolen three bases.

Take a Walk: The Chiefs have found their way on base in the first four games of the year via the walk. Syracuse walked 11 times in yesterday’s doubleheader, bringing its season total to 19 walks in four games. The walks have been part of the Chiefs’ recipe to put a lot of runners on base to start the year. Syracuse has tallied 42 baserunners through the first four games of the season, averaging 1.68 base runners/inning. The Chiefs have had multiple runners on in 10 of 25 innings in which they’ve hit this year.

Bend but Don’t Break: Syracuse’s relief corps was solid overall in Tuesday’s doubleheader. The bullpen combined to allow two earned runs in six innings. Those are the only two runs allowed by the ‘pen in 10 innings worked this season. As a staff, the Chiefs hold a 1.93 team ERA so far, good enough for third best in the I.L. to date

Let’s Play Nine: For the first time this year, the Chiefs will play a scheduled nine-inning game today. After the first six days of the season have had games either postponed or played as seven-inning doubleheaders, the Chiefs will go the full nine this afternoon. The six affected games are the longest streak before the Chiefs’ first nine-inning home game since 1983, when Syracuse was snowed out for six days before its home opener against Tidewater.

Prospect Watch: Austin Voth gets the start for the Chiefs today in his Syracuse debut. Voth was named the Nationals Minor League pitcher of the year last season, holding a 2.92 ERA with Double-A Harrisburg. He led the Eastern League in strikeouts a season ago with 148 punch-outs in 157.1 IP. Voth enters 2016 as the 5th- highest-ranked pitching prospect in the Nationals system, according to Baseball America (Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, Reynaldo Lopez, A.J. Cole, Voth).

Feeling Shifty: The Chiefs’ New Defensive Approach

The most eye-catching difference with the Chiefs this year hasn’t been the new uniforms or the new roster. It’s the new defensive alignments. Syracuse has overshifted in the first four games more dramatically than the Chiefs did at just about any point last season.

The shifts are part of a new organizational philosophy put forth by the Nationals. In spring training, Nationals field coordinator Jeff Garber worked extensively on shifts with the position players. Chiefs hitting coach Brian Daubach is in charge of the team’s defensive alignments this year. Before home games, the team has a sheet posted in the clubhouse hallway that notes the tendencies of each opposing team’s hitter.

In Tuesday’s doubleheader vs. Buffalo, the Chiefs placed three infielders on one side against a handful of Buffalo batters. Here’s a look at those alignments, starting with the shift to left-handed Domonic Brown…

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On the left of your screen, shortstop Trea Turner fields a ground ball hit by Brown in the first inning of Game One yesterday. Without the overshift, that grounder likely makes its way into center field for an RBI single. Second baseman Brendan Ryan is the player to the right, coming in from the edge of the outfield grass.

Next up, a shift against left-handed Casey Kotchman, which was even more dramatic…

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This picture shows the Chiefs’ infield after a slow ground ball to first base. Back it up before the pitch, and you’d find second baseman Brendan Ryan even deeper onto the outfield – maybe 10 or so steps. Meanwhile, Turner’s shift from shortstop is slightly deeper than against Brown. Again, this freeze-frame is from after the ball’s been hit, so Turner’s ranging to his right to hover near second base.

While shifts against left-handed batters seem more frequent, the Chiefs also pulled three infielders to one side against right-handed batters, with mixed success. Here’s an alignment against Jesus Montero…

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.39.45 AM

On this occasion, the Chiefs’ alignment worked to perfection. Second baseman Brendan Ryan, playing well to the third-base side, fields a ground ball from Montero and throws to first from near his usual shortstop position for an easy out. In yesterday’s game two, however, Montero hit a weak bouncer to the vacant hole on the right side for a single in a key sixth-inning rally.

That’s a play that opponents of the shift will point to in their opposition to over-defending. However, in the small sample size of yesterday’s 14-inning doubleheader, the Chiefs made more plays thanks to shifts than they lost, particularly against the third and fourth-place hitters, Brown and Montero.

One caveat to all this: if you’re going to move your middle infielders around, you’d better have infielders with good range. With Brendan Ryan and Scott Sizemore at second base and Trea Turner at shortstop, the Chiefs aced that test yesterday.

Today in Chiefsville: April 12th, 2016 – Finally, The ‘Home’ Opener

Finally, The ‘Home’ Opener

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By Eric Gallanty (@ericgallanty) – 

Baseball is back in Syracuse. Finally. Its a beginning to a season that’s already had its predictable moments. But those have been far outweighed by the cold, snow, and rain that has descended on Central New York, forcing the Chiefs to postpone or move their first five scheduled home games of the season. It’s a season so far that looks like this:

Postponed or affected games: 5

Days Chiefs have been in first place: 4

Chiefs stolen bases: 3

Chiefs games played: 2

Chiefs earned runs allowed: 1

Total Attendance for Chiefs games in 2016: 0

The predictable thing has been the Chiefs performance on the field when they have actually played this year. Team speed and pitching were thought to be a strength of the team coming into the season and that has been the case through two games. The zero fans, two games, and four days in first, perhaps less predictable.

It is still a bit chilly in Syracuse today, but the radar is all clear and we should be good to go for today’s doubleheader. It’s the second of a minimum of four doubleheaders scheduled for the season (Chiefs went 4-6 in doubleheader games last year), with double-dips scheduled with Lehigh Valley on April 20th and August 19th.

Syracuse sends Taylor Hill to the mound, looking to regain his form from 2014 when he led the league in ERA. It’ll also be the Chiefs return in game two for Aaron Laffey. The Chiefs’ 2014 I.L. All-Star spent last season in the Rockies organization.

Barring any continuation of recent weather patterns, today is the first two in a stretch of 41 games in 40 days. We look forward to talking to you from the ballpark tonight.


 Games #3 & #4 – Syracuse Chiefs (2-0) vs. Buffalo Bisons (2-2)

NBT Bank Stadium, Syracuse, New York

Pregame 3:50 p.m. // First Pitch 4:05 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 // SyracuseChiefs.com

Gm 1: RHP Taylor Hill (0-0, -.–) vs. RHP Chris Leroux (0-0, -.–)

Gm 2: LHP Aaron Laffey (0-0, -.–) vs. RHP Casey Lawrence (0-0, -.–)


Today’s Lineup Card (Game 1):

IMG_7694


Today’s Interview – Tony Campana:


Roster Moves (From 4/11):

INF Brendan Ryan added from Extended Spring Training

C Nick Rickles reassigned to Extended Spring Training


Today’s Headlines:

Kings of Rain: Monday’s game was rained out – the fifth consecutive Chiefs home game to start the season postponed due to weather. The opening four were postponed due to an unsafe playing field and inclement weather. Syracuse had just five postponed games all of 2015.

If A Baseball’s Thrown in The Forest…: The Chiefs opened the 2016 season in unique fashion, sweeping a doubleheader from the IronPigs on Friday. Though played as Chiefs ‘home’ games, the two were hosted at Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park in a stadium closed to the public, due to the facility not yet being ready to host I.L. games in 2016. Chiefs pitchers allowed just one earned run in the two games. Offensively, Syracuse stole three bases and walked eight times in the twin bill.

Trea Bien: IF Trea Turner – Baseball America’s #9 MLB prospect – started the season as you might expect. Turner paced the Chiefs offense in the first two games of the year. Turner was 1 for 3 with three walks, two stolen bases, and three runs scored in the two games. He also scored the game-winning run of game two when he came home on a wild pitch.

Bullish on the Pen: Syracuse’s relief corps, which shapes up to be a team strength, was solid in its first two efforts of the year. Four relievers (Solis, Martin, Gott, Masset) combined to allow just two hits and no runs in four innings of work Friday. Seven of the eight Chiefs relievers have pitched in the majors, six of whom pitched in the big leagues last year. RHP Rafael Martin leads the way after his team-high 11 games pitched in spring training. Martin carries a 14-inning Syracuse scoreless streak from 2015 into this season.

Return to the Hill: Taylor Hill takes the ball for the Chiefs in Game One, trying to regain the form that made him one of the I.L.’s best pitchers in 2014. Hill finished second in the I.L. in ERA in the Chiefs’ 2014 division title season, but struggled at times last year. Hill posted a 5.23 ERA in 22 starts with the Chiefs in 2015. However, he ranked second on the Chiefs with 118.2 innings pitched and tallied the most starts of any Chiefs pitcher.

Today in Chiefsville: April 11th 2016 – Rain, Rain, Go Away

We’ve waited four days, what’s one more? Monday’s Chiefs ‘home’ opener has once again been postponed due to rain throughout the afternoon and forecasted this evening. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m.

Taylor Hill and Aaron Laffey are scheduled to start for the Chiefs tomorrow.

We’ll play baseball at some point, we promise.

Today in Chiefsville: April 10th, 2016 – Two Days Off?

Two Days Off?

By Eric Gallanty (@ericgallanty)

It’s almost as rare as playing a professional baseball game in front of an empty stadium. Two consecutive days off during the baseball season. And even more rare, a Saturday and Sunday off in a row.

That is the case after the Chiefs were forced to postpone their opening series of the year at home. After a doubleheader on Friday to kick off the season, Syracuse has to wait until Monday to restart its season when it hosts Buffalo at 6:35 p.m.

After playing two games in four days (barring anymore unforeseen postponements), Syracuse is scheduled for 41 games in the next 41 days with a lone off day on April 27th.

The Thruway Cup begins tomorrow as the Chiefs, 2-0 at ‘home’, and alone in first place host the Bisons.


Notes:

The makeup dates for Saturday and Sunday’s postponed games have been announced. The Chiefs and IronPigs will now play doubleheaders on Wednesday, April 20th and Friday, August 19th.

Today in Chiefsville: April 9th, 2016 – If No One Saw It, Did it Happen?

If No One Saw It, Did It Happen?

Coca-Cola Park was empty for the Chiefs opener (Eric Gallanty)

Coca-Cola Park was empty for the Chiefs opener (Eric Gallanty)


Yesterday’s Postgame Sound:


By Eric Gallanty (@ericgallanty)

Trea Turner scored three runs and stole two bases. Jason Martinson banged a ball of the left-field foul pole for his first home run of the year. Six Chiefs pitchers combined to allow just one earned run in 14 IP. But did it really happen?

Well we know the answer is yes it did and we know that all of these impressive feats happened in an empty Coca-Cola Park Friday afternoon in Allentown. The sounds of the fans and the smells of the concessions were replaced by the beeping of construction trucks and the smells of wet paint drying as crews worked through the afternoon to get the park ready for the IronPigs official opener next week.

Walking around the concourse it almost had an eerie feel. On a normal day, when the IronPigs loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the final inning of game one, the fans would have been on their feet, the PA system blaring, and the place going nuts. But yesterday, the decibel level held firm at 0, except for the sounds of the howling 20+ mph wind.

In a dead quiet stadium, the Chiefs put together a solid day’s work to get their season off on the right foot and at least for one day, lead the I.L. North alone. And despite no one seeing it, it did indeed happen.


More Pictures From Yesterday:

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The Chiefs are back home Monday to take on the Buffalo Bisons in the true ‘home’ opener. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

Today in Chiefsville: April 8th, 2016 – Baseball is Back

Baseball is Back

IMG_7682.JPG

Coca-Cola Park in Allentown is fan-less and decked in the Lehigh Valley sunshine this morning. We hope the sun sticks around. What we know for sure is the stands will remain empty.

The Chiefs and IronPigs embark on one of the oddest opening’s to a season you’ll ever see. After weather forced the postponement of the first four games of the year in Syracuse, the opening series has shifted to Allentown where we’ll play a doubleheader in an empty ballpark. It’s a situation without much precedent, and should be a day we remember for a long time. Fans or no fans, baseball is back, and that is the most important thing.

To get you back in the baseball mindset, check out our first Inside Pitch podcast, where Kevin and I breakdown the Chiefs 2016 roster.

Below is your Chiefs daily game information, including the matchup, starting lineups, roster moves, and a pregame interview. We’ll include this information before every game this year on the blog.

We look forward to talking to you from Allentown. We’re on the air at 10:45 a.m. on The Score 1260 and syracusechiefs.com. Hope you can join us.

– Eric


 Games 1&2 – Syracuse Chiefs (0-0) vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (0-0)

Coca-Cola Park, Allentown Pennsylvania

Pregame 10:45 a.m. // First Pitch 11:00 a.m.

Gm 1: RHP A.J. Cole (0-0, -) vs. RHP Jake Thompson (0-0, -)

Gm 2: RHP Taylor Jordan (0-0, -) vs. LHP Adam Morgan (0-0, -)


Starting Lineups (Game One):

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.31.17 AM


Today’s Interview: Billy Gardner, Jr.:


Roster Moves:

OF Matt den Dekker recalled by Washington

C Nick Rickles promoted from Short Season-A Auburn


Today’s Headlines:

Welcome Back: The Chiefs begin the 2016 season with a number of familiar faces. 18 of the 25 players on the Opening-Day roster have played for Syracuse, 15 of whom played for last year’s team. In addition, 16 players have Major-League experience, 10 of whom have played for the Nationals.

Nobody Home: Because of unsafe playing conditions, the Chiefs were forced to postpone the season’s first four home games. That led to today’s doubleheader at Lehigh Valley, which will not be open to the public as the IronPigs’ stadium is not ready to host I.L. games. Syracuse will be the “home” team for both games.

Cole Open: A.J. Cole starts on Opening Day for the second straight year. Last season, Cole allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 24-year-old RHP excelled late last year, posting a 1.15 ERA in his final six starts of the season.

Trea Bien: IF Trea Turner – Baseball America’s #9 MLB prospect – headlines the Chiefs’ offense. Turner starred last season with Syracuse, hitting .314 with 13 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 48 games. He was one of the final position players cut from MLB camp after leading the Nationals with 25 games played and eight steals in their Grapefruit-League-best campaign.

Bullish on the Pen: Syracuse’s relief corps shapes up to be a team strength. Seven of the eight Chiefs relievers have pitched in the majors, six of whom pitched in the big leagues last year. RHP Rafael Martin leads the way after his team-high 11 games pitched in spring training. Martin carries a 14-inning Syracuse scoreless streak from 2015 into this season.

Size Matters: IF Scott Sizemore picked up where he left off in spring training. Sizemore, who signed with the Nationals last August 22nd, ended the season 20-47 with six walks for Syracuse. In spring training, he bashed three home runs and three doubles in just 36 at- bats, leading to a .333/.415/.667 slash line.

Put Me In, Coach: 4/5th of the Chiefs’ staff returns this year. Manager Billy Gardner starts his third season with the club, while pitching coach Bob Milacki returns for his second. Hitting coach Brian Daubach, the manager each of the last two years at Harrisburg, is new to the coaching staff. Strength coach Brett Henry and trainer Jeff Allred each return for their fourth season.

Inside Pitch Podcast: Episode 1 – Season Preview

Inside Pitch Logo

 

Broadcasters Kevin Brown and Eric Gallanty breakdown the Chiefs Opening Day roster ahead of Syracuse’s unique doubleheader to start the year in the Lehigh Valley.

The Way Baseball Used to Be Played

By Eric Gallanty (@ericgallanty):

Coca-Cola Park in Allentown is one of the nicest parks we have in the International League. On a normal day, as you’d walk into the home of the IronPigs, you would absorb to aroma of baseball in the Lehigh Valley, with the scents of maple-candied bacon filling the entranceway. You’d head into the usually packed concourse to the sights of ‘Pigs fans and Phillies fans set to enjoy a game by there beloved team. And that will surely be the case when the Chiefs visit Coca-Cola Park on April 18th. But tomorrow morning, the smells will be gone, the fans missing, and the atmosphere unlike any other for the players on the field.

Due to snow and freezing temperatures, the Chiefs were forced to cancel their first four schedule home games of the season. So in order to keep the players fresh, Syracuse will head to Allentown and play a doubleheader Friday morning with game one set to begin at 11 a.m. And what will make the games unlike any other is that they will be closed to the public and played in front of an empty ballpark.

The Orioles and White Sox played in an empty stadium last season (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Orioles and White Sox played in an empty stadium last season (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

There is some precedent for this. Last year, the White Sox and Orioles were forced to play a game at an empty Camden Yards due to the riots that had taken place around the city of Baltimore in the preceding days. But that is about it. From the days of little league to high school to college and through the pros, there are always at least a few dozen fans attending games. Even in spring training the Florida and Arizona fans pack the ballparks. But Friday should be a day as unique as they come, with a 10,000 seat beautiful ballpark devoid of any patron to enjoy it.

Sometimes when you walk around a ballpark and talk to old time fans, they’ll reminisce about old time baseball, without the sounds of the new-age ballpark and modern game experience. On Friday, the sounds of the game will harken back to a time long ago where the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, and the outfielder’s calls of “I got it” will dominated the day.

We hope you join us tomorrow on The Score 1260 or syracusechiefs.com for what should be a special day. It’ll be Kevin and I, plus the sounds of baseball. And that will be it.

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