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Patriots Struggling To Find Consistency

The Somerset Patriots have not had the start to their 2011 season that many would have expected. It had become a regular occurrence to see the Patriots near the top of the Atlantic League standings the past few years. Right now however, Somerset sits in last place in the Freedom Division with a record of 6-12.

Manager Sparky Lyle and his club have not been able to play consistent winning baseball. The Patriots have not won more than two games in a row all season. It’s been a  frustrating start.

Somerset has just four players batting over .270, not counting Elliott Ayala who has a hit in his only at bat to date. Josh Pressley has done all he can as he leads the team in batting at .338. Matt Hagan leads the team with four home runs while batting .281. He also has driven in a team high 12 runs.

Justin Huber is batting a healthy .292 with five doubles and three home runs in his first season with the Patriots. Joe Holden, while he does not have the power numbers, is batting .320 so far this year. Holden has been able to use his speed to his advantage and has already stolen ten bases.

After those four however, the offensive dropoff is fairly steep. Jeff Nettles, the Atlantic League’s new all-time RBI leader, is off to a slow start. The third baseman is batting just .209 on the year. Michael Hernandez is right on the Mendoza line with a .200 batting average. Wayne Lydon and Iggy Suarez are still trying to get over that line.

It’s been tough for the Patriots to get anything going. They have had their good games, but they seem to be the rarity so far. Consistency is the issue. This team is too talented to perform the way they have.

It’s not just the bats however. The pitching has not been great either. The Patriots have given up 25 runs in the past four games. When Brian Sweeney was signed by the Seattle Mariners very early in the season, the Patriots pitching staff took a hit. They do however have two starters that have been pitching very well.

Jason Cromer and Nic Ungs have ERA’s of 2.49 and 2.81 respectively. Cromer leads the team with two wins, but also has suffered two losses. If the other starting pitchers can improve their performance, the Patriots would be much better off.

Bill Pulsipher, who has Major League experience, has been up and down so far. He currently sports a 4.03 ERA and has yet to record a decision in four starts. Opponents are hitting .360 off the former New York Met. Kevin Reese (4.09) and Kris Honel (5.40) need to step up for Somerset.

The bullpen is a big weakness so far as well. The lowest ERA in the entire bullpen is Luke Sommer’s 3.00. Ben Grezlovski is striking out a batter per inning, but he has given up five runs in just 12 innings, for an ERA of 3.75.

Local product, Casey Cahill has struggled this season as opponents are clobbering him at a .346 rate. Cahill currently sports an ERA over 9.00. Jeff Kennard, Scott Williamson, and Jason Anderson have also had a rough start to the season.

As you can see, for every player performing well, there are two or three that are struggling. That rate will not add up to consistent baseball. The Somerset Patriots have the players and the coaching staff to turn this season around, but it needs to start soon.

Somerset opens a six-game home stand tonight when they take on the Bridgeport Bluwfish at TD Bank Ballpark. This could be the stretch the Patriots need to get back on the winning track. They will play three games against the 9-9 Bluefish before a three game series with the 7-10 Road Warriors.

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