Once again, starter Bennett Parry was brilliant Friday night, striking out 11 batters in the Ducks’ 5-4 win over the Lancaster Barnstormers — the best team in the Atlantic League. But this was no anomaly — nothing new, but plenty to see — as Parry winds his way toward a probable All-Star selection and is, almost quietly, the best pitcher in the league.
The lefty leads the league in strikeouts with 80. Entering Saturday’s action, he had a 31-strikeout lead on fellow Ducks starter Jake Fisher for tops in that category. Parry’s ERA after Friday’s win was 1.98, second in the league behind Southern Maryland’s Daryl Thompson, who led with a 1.96 mark, entering Saturday.
“Each start, you can see a little more confidence,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said of Parry. “That goes a long way. I’m a big believer in that. Also, talent. He’s got a good makeup on the mound, a great changeup, and a good plus fastball. He can throw both of them whenever he wants. He’s working both sides of the plate and you can just see in his demeanor when he goes out there that he expects to do well.”
Since a less-than-stellar Ducks debut — four runs in five innings against Somerset on May 3 — Parry has been nearly untouchable. He’s allowed two runs or less in each of his last eight starts, and has allowed one or less in six of those eight.
“I’ve just been trying to fill the zone and throw strikes,” Parry said. “I think my changeup and off-speed stuff has been really good.”
But even when his off-speed stuff hasn’t worked, he’s been able to find ways to get batters out — as was the case in a 4-3 loss to Lancaster last Sunday in which Parry pitched six shutout innings.
“I think it shows the importance of good fastball command,” Parry said. “If you have that, you can still get outs.”
The fact that the Ducks lost a game in which their starter was so dominant was no doubt a point of frustration, because it’s happened a few times this season. For all those eye-popping numbers, the Ducks haven’t always given Parry the support he needs to leave the mound with a win. The Ducks are 4-4 in his last eight starts.
Brownell reaches milestone
As Ducks starter John Brownell transitions from one of the more successful pitchers in the league into his new role as a pitcher/pitching coach, he still finds ways to remind batters how unsolvable he used to be.
Brownell, who is in his first season as starter/pitching coach, recorded the 700th strikeout of his Atlantic League career in a 4-3 loss to the Sugar Land Skeeters Wednesday. Only one other pitcher in Atlantic League history, Tim Cain, who played for the Ducks in 2006-2007, has hit the 700 strikeout mark. Cain finished his career with 737.
Cain, who played in the Atlantic League from 1998-2007, also played for Newark, Bridgeport and Camden.
This season has been an up-and-down for Brownell. He was 3-6 with a 4.66 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 10 appearances (nine starts), entering Saturday.
There’s just no touching Francisco Rodriguez, who has once again seen his ERA fall below 2.00. Rodriguez allowed just one hit in his last four appearances entering Saturday and hadn’t allowed a run since June 13.
Rodriguez allowed three earned runs in his first 16 innings as a Duck. After hurling another scoreless ninth on Friday, Rodriguez was 2-0 with a 1.68 ERA, 10 saves, 16 strikeouts, and eight walks in 16 appearances.