May 30, 2018
By: Steve Degler
The headline above is the most tried and true formula for winning baseball games. It's also the one the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have employed so far this season. At 28-21, the Pigs are atop the International League's North Division. The offense has relied heavily on the long ball (a league-best 51 homers in 49 games) while still trying to find its groove with runners in scoring position (.225 batting average in that situation). Joey Meneses (.329-9-24) will almost certainly be named IL Player of the Month for May. The rest of the team is hitting .228. When the offense gets on track, this has the chance to be a special team.
It always starts with pitching in baseball. You need it to succeed. You can only out-slug teams for so long in this game. The Pigs team ERA of 3.24 is second in the IL, behind the 3.23 of Rochester. The Pigs and Red Wings also lead the league with seven shutouts apiece. The Lehigh Valley bullpen has been sensational. The relievers have a 2.45 ERA on the season and they have allowed just 12 earned runs in their last 81.1 innings. Among the starting pitchers, two IronPigs are in the top ten in the league in ERA. Enyel De Los Santos is first at 1.40 and Cole Irvin is ninth at 3.17. Pedro Beato is leading the league with 15 saves.
The Lehigh Valley defense has been just as good. The Pigs fielding percentage of .986 is tied for second in the league. The team has made just two errors in the last nine games, and both came in the same game. IronPigs catchers have thrown out 50% (14-28) of base stealers, the top mark in the IL.
When you have pitchers who throw strikes and a defense that consistently picks up the ball and makes the routine play, you give yourself a much better chance of winning. There is a lot of baseball left this season, but the IronPigs are doing these things game in and game out. If the offense starts clicking, look out!!