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Hartford Yard Goats Kick Off Season With Rough Start

The 2018 minor league season opened about a week ago, and the Hartford Yard Goats have begun the year with a rough patch. So far having lost all six of their games, things aren’t looking good.

Obviously it is too early to tell how the rest of the season will transpire, but an 0-6 start is never okay. Hartford kicked off the season against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last Thursday. Despite a sell-out crowd of 6,518, the Fisher Cats made quick work of the Goats and crushed them 0-6.

The next three games were much closer, but Hartford was unable to provide any offensive help. They lost the next trio by successive scores of 3-4, 1-4, and 2-4. It’s become apparent that the issue is mainly hitting the ball, as the team’s batting average is a pathetic .193, a figure below the Mendoza Line that’s also the second worst mark in the Eastern League.

The bright side of things is that their pitching has been impressive at times, and the team has accumulated a 3.70 ERA. It’s not great, but it could be worse (the Portland Sea Dogs team ERA is 4.60). Ryan Castellani even helped limit Vladimir Guerrero Junior to just three hits in their first series, which is impressive especially considering how the Hall of Famer’s son is touted as one of the top MLB prospects.

Starting pitchers Craig Schlitter, Parker French, and Peter Lambert have shown promising signs on the mound, for each of their ERAs are at or below 3.00. Lambert has been dominant, but couldn’t get the win despite pitching 6 shutout innings against the Fisher Cats on Friday.

On Monday, the Goats began their series with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The first game was never a close one, as the Flying Squirrels won 6-2. French went six strong innings, giving up just 2 earned runs. It’s fair to say that any issues holding a lead have seemingly rose out of the bullpen. The next game was another loss, 6-8.

The issues on the offensive side don’t seem to have an end, either. Garrett Hampson leads the team in hits and average, hitting just .280 with 7 base knocks. Rising star and 2015 first-round draft pick Brendan Rodgers is struggling at .200, but has hit two home runs and batted in four so far. There are even five Yard Goats hitting under .200, with the worst being .067.

Statistics don’t lie. If the Yard Goats don’t improve their hitting, they will struggle all throughout the season. The pitching rotation has proved reliable in the first week of the season, but sadly the bullpen has shown that no lead, no matter the size, is safe. These issues are best addressed early on, and a change is necessary if they want to make a playoff run.

The Yard Goats are seeking their first win tonight in their last game of the series against Richmond, which opens at 7:05 PM. No matter how beautiful their new Dunkin’ Donuts Park is, Hartford better pull themselves together or their routinely sold out crowds will stop showing up to see the green and white play.

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