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Happenings Down South: Rolling on the River

The Redbirds are tied for the best record in all of AAA at the midway point.

St Louis Cardinals Photo Day
Oscar Mercado
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Writer’s Note: This week’s column is a bit different, as instead of covering just the last two weeks, I’m looking back at the season as a whole with Memphis hitting the halfway point in the season on Sunday.

With their 8-6 victory over El Paso Sunday, the Redbirds brought their record to 42-28 at the halfway point of the PCL season. This mark ties the ‘Birds for the best record in AAA baseball with the Fresno Grizzlies, and also puts them one game behind the record pace for victories set last season. Not only that, Memphis has the 2nd best ERA in in the PCL at 3.51 (ahead of their franchise best of 3.77 set in 1998), the 2nd most strikeouts by pitchers (622), and their hitters have a PCL low strikeouts by batters (450).

Leading the way for the Redbirds are some familiar names to those who’ve been following Memphis this season. Patrick Wisdom was doing a good job spreading the ball around the field but was mired in a 15 game homerless streak. That all changed this past week as Wisdom had hit 3 homers in his last five games including 2 Sunday against El Paso. Wisdom has hit .333 in 43 games since the start of May, including 10 doubles, 1 triple, and 7 home runs. Add to that his 31 runs scored, 25 RBIs, and 18 walks, and it’s safe to say Wisdome is feeling it right now.

If Oscar Mercado continues at his current pace, he looks to set career highs (or lows in some cases) in every major category offensively. Oscar currently also leads the Redbirds through Sunday in hits (74), runs (48), doubles (15), triples (tied with 7 others at 1), and walks (28).

Tyler O’ Neill would most certainly be 1st across the board if not for the time he’s spent with the Cardinals this season. Tyler is just behind Mercado and Wisdom in most categories and has played 26 less games. O’Neill does however lead the ‘Birds in slugging (.664) and OPS (1.028).

The one “negative” about Memphis’ offensive has been their overall team batting numbers. When compared to other teams in the PCL, offensively the Redbirds look fairly average. But those numbers aren’t impacting their win-loss record one bit.

Alex Reyes Postgame Interview and Highlights -- 5/24/18

Alex Reyes was absolutely amazing tonight in 7.0 innings at AutoZone Park! Only one hit allowed, 13 strikeouts, and he struck out nine-straight at one point -- a new PCL record for consecutive strikeouts! In four injury rehab starts, he did not allow a run and struck out 44 in 23.0 innings! Opponents hit just .048!

Posted by Memphis Redbirds on Thursday, May 24, 2018

On the mound, as I mentioned above, the Redbirds are near the top in a couple team pitching categories. Individually, Dakota Hudson, who was the first to 8 wins in the PCL, is leading the way in the PCL in ERA at 2.18. Not far behind is Daniel Poncedeleon at 2.57, who lands at a 2nd-best-in-the-PCL 77 strikeouts.

There’s also a few other standout performances by guys who spent a lot of time up North. John Gant went 5-1 in 8 appearances, with a 1.65 ERA. Jack Flaherty went 4-1 in 5 outings and racked up an impressive 41 strikeouts in just 31.2 innings. Then there’s Alex Reyes and Preston Guilmet. Reyes made one rehab start in Memphis on his way back to the Cardinals, and threw an absolute gem. In that start, Reyes went 7 striking out 13 and only giving up one hit. Preston Guilmet was excellent in relief for the Redbirds with 35 strikeouts in 21 relief appearances and giving up 9 hits in 29 innings of work before being designated for assignment on June 7th.

The Redbirds are in a prime position to do it all over agin this season. At 14 games over .500, Memphis is 8.5 games up on New Orleans. Last season the Redbirds won the division by 22 games, which had only been done two other times in PCL history. Unless the Cardinals start having a lot of injury issues, and the Memphis roster gets depleted, I don’t think its out of the question to get close to that number of games out in front again. Which would also put the ‘Birds on track to be the 18th Back-To-Back PCL Champion in the history of the league, which goes back to 1903.