No evening better summarized the first half for the Chattanooga Lookouts than June 6, when they lost 6-5 to the Carolina Mudcats at AT&T Field.
Chattanooga took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning before the bullpen imploded, sending the Lookouts to their 10th loss in 12 games. The bullpen had been swiped of eighth-inning standout Javy Guerra and closer Josh Lindblom, who were promoted in May to Los Angeles.
“Any time you get some promotions, the ship can take a little bit of a hit, and we took a little beating,” manager Carlos Subero said. “We haven’t played up to our potential, so I can’t say that I’m satisfied with the first half, but I think our pitchers have played up to their potential.”
The June 6 loss to the Mudcats dropped the Lookouts to six games under .500 at 26-32, but they regrouped to finish 35-35 after Sunday’s 11-6 win at Tennessee. Chattanooga still hasn’t produced a winning half with the Dodgers since becoming their Double-A affiliate after the 2008 season.
This was, however, the most productive half from a development standpoint since the partnership. Sandwiched between the first big-league promotions for Guerra and Lindblom was an inaugural big-league call-up for starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa.
De La Rosa, who began the season as Baseball America’s No. 3 organizational prospect, went 2-2 with a 2.93 earned run average in eight starts with the Lookouts. Guerra was 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 14 games before his promotion, while Lindblom was 1-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 19 appearances.
“Everybody who was around figured that Rubby was going to be at the big-league level at some point this year, and the development of Javy Guerra and Josh Lindblom is what it’s all about,” pitching coach Chuck Crim said. “We want to have a home-grown atmosphere with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is really what they’ve based their clubs on before. We want them not only to be usable but big-leaguers who can help us win a pennant. It’s not just to get them there.”
The Lookouts finished the half ranked second in the Southern League in team ERA with a 3.67, and they will open the second half with some promise due to Will Savage (7-2, 3.70 ERA), Nate Eovaldi (5-4, 2.84), Allen Webster (0-1, 3.38) and Chris Withrow (2-5, 4.76) in the rotation and Cole St. Clair (0-1, 1.69) in the bullpen.
From a hitting standpoint, the Lookouts ranked seventh in the league with a .260 average. Outfielders Scott Van Slyke (.320) and Kyle Russell (.280 and 14 home runs) have been invited to Tuesday night’s Southern League All-Star Game, but Chattanooga mostly has struggled at the plate and can’t use personnel moves as an excuse.
“We haven’t really had a promotion on our offense other than Corey Smith,” Subero said. “I think we’re getting better at getting quality at-bats, but we need to get more.”
Alfredo Silverio went 4-for-5 Sunday and is now hitting a team-leading .324, but the Lookouts had a three-game stretch at home against Huntsville in late May where they scored one run.
“We started the year off pretty well, but then we lost a couple of guys to Triple-A and then lost a bunch in our bullpen to the big leagues,” Van Slyke said. “I’m sure if everybody was still here that started the year here and nobody moved, I think things would have gone a little differently, but things happen and your chemistry changes.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...