Fresh from their first off-day of the season, the Chatham Anglers (4-2) are back in action on Thursday night against the Bourne Braves (2-4) at Veterans Field. Despite Tuesday night's 8-2 loss to the Falmouth Commodores, manager John Schiffner
likes the position his team is in.
"We're in very good shape," he said. "Anytime you are two games over .500 and you've only played six games, that's a great sign."
With twenty seasons under his belt in Chatham, Schiffner has developed a system where he separates the season into different segments to keep his players focused.
"We talk to the kids about dividing the season into four quarters," said Schiffner. "We told our guys that if they can hang around .500 for the first quarter of the season that they will be OK. At this time of the year, you've got regular players coming in and out, temporary players coming in and out and other players arriving from the Super Regionals and College World Series."
On Thursday night, right-hander Scott Frazier
(1-0, 1.80 ERA) (Pepperdine) will make his second start of the season for the Anglers. Frazier was dominant in his Chatham debut, striking out five hitters and conceding one run in five innings of work. Facing a lineup hitting just .195 as a team, Frazier will look to pound the strike zone.
"Scott's a power pitcher with a power body," said Schiffner. "He's going to make it very difficult for the other team to hit because he throws so darn hard. Scott also backs his fastball up with some really good secondary pitches. He had a successful outing against Wareham last week. I don't see any reason why he won't do that today."
For Bourne, right-hander Jon Keller
(0-0, 0.00 ERA) (Nebraska Lincoln) will be on the bump. Keller was outstanding in his first start, throwing five scoreless innings and fanning nine batters while just giving up one hit. The Braves will look to Keller to provide a boost for a pitching staff that has a 4.41 team ERA through the first six games of the season.
At the plate, the Anglers will look to pounce on Bourne early. While Chatham is hitting .211 as a team, the team spent Thursday afternoon conducting a specialized batting practice centered around hitting to the opposite field. If the Anglers' hitters can stay ahead in the count and avoid the temptation to pull the ball on every pitch, Chatham could give Keller his first earned runs of the season.
In the field, the Anglers will try to prevent themselves from giving the Braves extra outs. In Tuesday night's 8-2 loss, Chatham committed two errors on the night, one of which helped spark Falmouth's rally in the fifth inning. If Chatham can support its pitchers with steady fielding, the Anglers will have an easier time getting through Bourne's lineup.
By and large, Chatham's fate on Thursday night will come down to execution on the mound, quality at-bats and savvy defense. If the Anglers can outperform the Braves in these areas, the boys in red, white and blue will find themselves back in the win column.
For live coverage of Thursday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame show with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Chris Fitzgerald at 6:40 p.m. at TRZ Teamline