The Nashville Sounds return to Albuquerque for the second time this season missing a couple of big bats.
Gone are first baseman Mat Gamel (.321, 18 HR, 58 RBI) and catcher George Kottaras (.343, 4 HR, 21 RBI), called up by Milwaukee, and closer-turned-starter-turned-closer-again Mark DiFelice (2-1, 2.17 ERA, six saves) is on the disabled list.
Otherwise the Sounds (39-47) remain the same streaky team that bushwhacked the Isotopes 14-1 on June 9 and then fell to Albuquerque 7-6, 5-2 and 16-14.
The four-game series opens Thursday at 7:05 p.m.
Rotation: Prospect Amaury Rivas (6-7, 4.34 ERA) will start Thursday’s opener. He walked six batters in 4.1 innings back on June 11 to take the loss. Former Isotope Eugenio de la Cruz (3-4, 3.94) goes Friday, looking for redemption after giving up four runs in two innings on June 12. Saturday will feature right-hander Josh Butler (4-5, 5.31), who did not pitch in the series in June. Lefty Chase Wright (5-5, 6.14), who gave up one run in four innings of relief on June 9, will make the start Sunday.
Bullpen: Veteran right-hander Sean Green (0-5, 3.60, six saves) is the de facto closer in DiFelice’s absence. Former UNM lefty Daniel Ray Herrera (3.00, 11 games) is back after a short stint with the Brewers. Overall, the bullpen has good depth with no ERA above 4.40.
Catching: Former Isotope Mike Rivera (.248, 4 HR, 23 RBI) has taken over for Kottaras behind the plate, providing steady defense but a weak bat. Wil Nieves (.260) is the backup after being demoted to make room for Kottaras in Milwaukee.
Infield: Utilityman Erick Almonte (.305, 4 HR, 19 RBI) and Jordan Brown (.248, 2 HR, 19 RBI) have split the first base duties in Gamel’s place. Second baseman Eric Farris (.272, 42 runs, 11 stolen bases) is starting to heat up atop the order. Shortstop Edwin Maysonet (.273, 18 RBI) is better with the glove than the bat. Third baseman Taylor Green (.308, 12 HR, 43 RBI) has emerged as the team’s best hitter with Gamel gone.
Outfield: Prospect Caleb Gindl (.271, 11 HR, 32 RBI) is a fixture in left field, while former Isotope Brett Carroll (.290, 13 HR, 48 RBI) remains a solid center fielder. Brandon Boggs (.248, 7 HR, 26 RBI) has bounced back and forth between right field and Milwaukee’s bench.
Prospect to watch: Farris. Ranked seventh before the season by Baseball America in Milwaukee’s system, he is the classic blocked prospect, with an All-Star ahead of him in Rickie Weeks. With the Brewers in contention and looking to make a trade or two, Farris could position himself as prime trade bait, particularly if he starts stealing bases again.
Outlook: The Sounds pitched fairly well in three of the four games at Isotopes Park in June, but their lineup is now minus its best hitter. If the Isotopes can jump on the Nashville starters and avoid having to rally against a good bullpen, they should take the series.