Dunedin, FL. --- Dunedin won at least forty games in the first half since 2014 when they went 46-23, and they captured their biggest lead in the division in the last week with a five game advantage over Clearwater. The Blue Jays won their first game of the season against
Dunedin, FL. --- Dunedin won at least forty games in the first half since 2014 when they went 46-23, and they captured their biggest lead in the division in the last week with a five game advantage over Clearwater.
The Blue Jays won their first game of the season against the Clearwater Threshers on April 4th, and they never lost the lead or share of the lead ever since. A sweep at the hands of the 2nd place Daytona Tortugas brought the lead to just a half game at the end of April. The team showed their resilience with a sweep of their own against the Jupiter Hammerheads to extend their lead back to 3.5 games. Dunedin never got further than 4.5 games from the Tortugas, and the Clearwater Threshers came on late in the last month of the year to make for an interesting race come June. A three games series with the Clearwater Threshers would show to be a major point in the season. The Blue Jays took two of three and never looked back. A 3-1 victory with Graham Spraker picking up his fifth win of the year would seal the deal for the Blue Jays as first half champions of the Florida State League North Division.
Strong pitching highlighted the Blue Jays first half run, as well as an explosive offense that scored runs in bunches throughout the half. In the first sixty eight games of the year, Dunedin put up 10 or more runs eight times, which only happened six times total in all of 2018 for the Blue Jays. The offense drove in four or more runs in an inning 21 times during their run, and they scored three runs in an inning 20 times. Dunedin fielded one of the best offenses in the league with 295 runs (1st), 263 RBI (1st), 249 BB (1st), .333 OBP (1st), .705 OPS (1st), 113 doubles (2nd), and .249 AVG (4th). The team relied more on manufacturing runs through walks and hitting the gaps rather than the long ball, and it paid dividends at the end of the half.
The pitching was just as dominate with a 3.06 ERA (3rd), 217 runs allowed (2nd), 189 ER (2nd), 159 BB (1st), and 563 SO (4th). The staff pounded the zone through the first half, while keeping the ball in the yard giving up just 33 home runs. The starting rotation played a huge role in getting the team out to strong starts with two starters, Nick Allgeyer and Graham Spraker, making it to the All-Star game.
Any successful team will always have great individual performances as well, and this rang true in the first three months of the season. Cullen Large was the hottest hitter for the Blue Jays with a .277 batting average. He was also the team leader in runs scored with 39 as well as hitting 16 doubles, the fourth highest mark in the Florida State League. Ryan Noda was big in the power department with six home runs, including a walk-off gram slam in the middle of May against the Jupiter Hammerheads. He is also the team leader in RBI with 33 total; Cal Stevenson was not far behind with 29 runs driven in of his own. Speaking of Cal Stevenson, he was a force to be reckon with at the plate, and he made huge plays in the field as well. He has a perfect fielding percentage between left field and center field, and he has made 10 outfield assists with two going for double plays. An early call-up for Riley Adams brought Alejandro Kirk from Lansing, and he immediately made an impact on the team. He drove in the go-ahead runs in just his second game with the team to secure a win against the Tampa Tarpons. It was the perfect way to start his time as a Dunedin Blue Jay as he went on to drive in 16 runs with 11 doubles in just 24 games played.
Out of the bullpen, Brad Wilson and Dany Jimenez were huge on the back end of the bullpen to finish off games for Dunedin. Dany Jimenez is currently tied for the team lead with five wins and has four saves. The righty has struck out 47 batters in 25.1 innings of work this year, good for 16.7 SO/9. Brad Wilson has been the go to closer for Dunedin with five saves. Wilson has a 0.76 WHIP and a 1.30 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched.
Dunedin will look to keep this success going through the rest of the season, and the squad who has been explosive so far will hope to bring even more fireworks when the postseason rolls around on September 2nd.