Despite entering the penultimate weekend of the regular season with the best overall record in the Atlantic League, the Ducks weren’t taking any chances, especially when it came to the pitching staff.
So, with the playoffs less than two weeks away and the staff gutted by injuries to Alfredo Simon and Rafael Perez, along with the Philadelphia Phillies’ acquisition of Henderson Alvarez, Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff went looking for pitching and picked up lefthander Jake Fisher and righthander James Jones in separate deals and re-signed lefty Dustin Richardson Friday afternoon.
“I think everybody thought that we needed a little more pitching to be prepared for the stretch run,” Pfaff said.
The Ducks entered last night’s game with Bridgeport, 4 1⁄2 games ahead of them with nine games to play in the Atlantic League Liberty Division second- half standings. The winner of the half earns an automatic playoff berth
Fisher, a crafty lefty, was picked up from the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Independent Frontier League for a player to be named later. He was thrown to the wolves, or maybe, more appropriately, the Bluefish, early. He started Friday night’s game against Bridgeport only hours after being acquired and allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings of the Ducks 6-5 loss.
“When we were talking to managers in the Frontier League, we already had our sights set on somebody else,” Pfaff said “ . . . Several people that we trust told us that the best lefthanded starter, bar none, was Fisher.”
Fisher was 10-7 with a 2.80 ERA in 20 starts with Windy City, a team from south suburban Chicago. He tied for the league lead in strikeouts (120) and ranked third in ERA.
“He knows how to pitch. He controls bats, has a good mound presence, can field his position, and is a good competitor,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said.
Jones came from the Sioux Falls Canaries of the Independent American Association, was also exchanged for a player to be named later.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully, I can help Long Island win another championship,” Jones said shortly after the trade had become official.
Jones was 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings for Sioux Falls. With his team miles away from playoff contention, the 28-year old was preparing for the offseason when the Ducks came calling and offered him a chance at, potentially, another three weeks of baseball.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “I was getting ready to shut it down and we get to play again. Hopefully we can win another championship.”
Jones’ debut performance did not go well. He allowed two runs on two hits, failed to record an out, and took the loss Friday night.
Richardson, who was released by Sugar Land Monday, went 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 13 games (four starts) with the Ducks last season. He was 1-4 was a 5.02 ERA in 48 appearances (one start) with the Skeeters this season.
At the moment, it does not appear as if the Ducks will have either Simon (finger injury) or Perez (heel injury) back this season. When asked whether he expect returns from either, Pfaff was succinct.
“Not at this point,” he said.
And because of that, like a stockbroker who can smell both value and need, Pfaff made the trades.
On deck: vs. Bridgeport, 1:35 p.m. today.