Thunder Playoff Rotation Uncertain

Anyone looking for any insight on the Trenton Thunder’s postseason rotation will be walking away disappointed.  After last night’s game, Thunder manager Tony Franklin was unsure of his plans for his starting five come September 8 just yet.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” he said.

“We’ve discussed a lot of things, we just don’t know what we’re going to do yet.  We need to figure it out pretty quick, don’t we?  We’ll see how these games go; how many pitches guys throw.  Somebody’s got to pitch these remaining games, that’s just the way it is.  We have to figure out what we’re going to do and how much we’re going to let the guys who start the games pitch, so we can get them lined up to pitch in the playoffs.  Everything is kind of just up in the air, but we have to monitor what they do in these next seven games and then go from there.”

1 1/2 games up on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for the division lead with seven games to play, Trenton has clinched a playoff berth, sure…but they haven’t clinched a specific spot, either winning the division or finishing second.  Not knowing where the first pitch will be thrown when the postseason starts plays a role in the way the rotation will be aligned.

“We would really like to finish first and start at home, no question about it,” he said.  “We’re still playing for something.  That has something do with it, yeah.”

As of right now, if everyone stays on turn and things stayed as is in the standings, here’s how the rotation would look for the postseason…

Game 1 (at Waterfront Park)

Dellin Betances would get the ball on September 8 for the Thunder as things stand right now.  He’s made just two Double-A starts since being summoned from High-A Tampa, and has no record with a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of work.

The New York-born righty has a nasty 0.77 WHIP and has struck out 15 batters, compared to just three walks. 

He’ll make one more regular season start, on September 3 in New Britain.

Game 2 (at Waterfront Park)

Adam Warren is on pace to take the ball on September 9.  Clearly the Thunder’s new ace after the departures of David Phelps, Lance Pendleton and D.J. Mitchell, the 23-year-old righty is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in nine starts for the Thunder.

In 50 innings, he’s struck out 56 Eastern League batters — including a franchise-record setting 15 K’s a few starts back — and has a nifty WHIP of 1.12.

He’ll make his final regular season start on September 4 against the Rock Cats. 

Game 3 (at Stadium just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?)

Cory Arbiso has been back and forth in the starting rotation all season.  Now, he’s in it, and would figure to start would could be the pivotal third game of the series.  Albeit under the radar, Arbiso has performed well after being skipped a level to come to Trenton this year.

“The man in black” has posted a 5-3 record and 3.51 ERA in 30 appearances, including nine starts.  Only Ryan Pope has more innings under his belt among active Thunder pitchers, and Arbiso has walked just 19 batters in 74 1/3 frames.

Arbiso is slated to take the ball later today against the Akron Aeros at Waterfront Park, and would make one more start in New Britain on September 5.

Game 4 (at Stadium) (If necessary)

Andrew Brackman is currently slated to pitch the fourth game of the first round playoff series against New Hampshire if things go that far.  The towering righty has a 3-7 record in 13 appearances for Trenton this season, including 12 starts, but has a solid 3.23 ERA. 

The former NC State hoops star has allowed just three home runs in 69 2/3 innings pitched and has 63 strikeouts to his credit as well.

Brackman, a member of the Yankees 40-man roster, will make one more start on September 1 at Waterfront Park against the Aeros and then pitch the final game of the regular season in New Britain on September 6.

Game 5 (at Waterfront Park) (If necessary)

Manny Banuelos would pitch in a deciding fifth game if the series gets that far.  Just 19 years old, “ManBan” has made just two starts at the Double-A level after being called up from High-A Tampa two weeks ago.

The highly touted southpaw starter is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 innings of work, but struck out 11 batters along the way.

Banuelos will make his third and final Double-A start during the Thunder’s final regular season home game on September 2 against Akron.


Now the thing about all that, of course, is that it’s subject to change.  Very subject to change.  I think the most interesting decision will be where Arbiso gets slotted and how Banuelos fits in. 

Arbiso is relatively stretched out as a starter, but still might not be able to go as deep into a game as Brackman or Warren could.  Additionally, Banuelos would have a ten-day gap between starts, and that seems unrealistic.  However, I’m doubting he’s your game one starter based on merit, either.

In a perfect world, where all the time between starts is perfectly aligned, I think Warren is unquestionably your number one.  I’d have Betances at two, Brackman at three, Banuelos at four and Arbiso at five with the possiblity of one of the aforementioned four possibly going on three days rest — which yes, is very, very unrealistic.

How about you?  What would your playoff rotation be?

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT


5 Responses to “Thunder Playoff Rotation Uncertain”

  1. Peter Lacock Says:

    Yeah, no to the short rest.
    It’s good the way it is but I would also vote for flipping Banuelos to 3 and Arbiso to 5. Warren is good in game 2. In some ways, game 2 is (or could be) more important than game 1.

  2. Art Vandelay Says:

    So Mike,
    where does Andy Pettitte fit into the mix?

  3. richard Says:

    I think Warren should open up.Now with rosters being expanded this week,will this have a big impact on the team.Who do you think might get a promotion to Scranton.Can you believe we lost Phelp,Pendleton,Noesi and Mitchell,WOW.

  4. mbn007 Says:

    I think Art asked the right question. I have no doubt that Andy Petitte will pitch at least 1 rehab start for Trenton, and if that is in the playoffs, it might be game 1 or 2, depending on when he lines up to return to the Yankees rotation in the Bronx. So, I think everyone will work around Andy’s start, with Arbisco possibly being the guy working in relief of Andy. The other starters will work around Andy’s start.

  5. Destiny99 Says:

    Thanks for this Mike. Answered my question about Banuelos pitching Thursday and much more.

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