The El Paso Chihuahuas have spent the majority of the 2019 season in first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division. They led by as many as seven games on June 13.
However, the Las Vegas Aviators just took four of six games against the Chihuahuas, including a sweep at Southwest University Park. As a result, the Oakland A’s Triple-A affiliate began the week just one game out of first place. The two teams will not play each other again during the final month of the regular season.
If you look at the Chihuahuas success in 2019, much of the credit deserves to go to the team’s offense.
El Paso is second in the league in batting average and RBIs (behind Las Vegas), and they lead the PCL in home runs and runs scored. In fact, the Chihuahuas 205 home runs are 26 shy of the all-time single season PCL record, which was set in 1999 by Omaha.
Pitching is another story, and the team’s starters have been getting hit hard the last few weeks.
In their last six games against the Aviators, El Paso gave up 62 runs, including 20 on July 26. In that game, Las Vegas set a new PCL record by hitting 11 home runs.
What is a surprise is that despite the alarming number of runs the Chihuahuas have given up, they still rank 8th of 16 teams in earned run average and 6th in walks plus hits per innings pitched. The reality is, the PCL has been a launching pad this season – and a nightmare for nearly every pitcher.
So how have the Chihuahuas been able to win 63 games, the second most in the PCL?
Outhitting the opposition
The reason is that they have been able to outhit their opposition for much of the season.
Ty France is hitting nearly .400 while Seth Mejias Brean is among the top 10 batting leaders in the PCL. Josh Naylor, Aderlin Rodriguez, Boog Powell and Matthew Batten are all batting over .300. Austin Allen and Jason Vossler are both having terrific offensive seasons, while Michael Gettys shattered his career best with 25 home runs this season.
El Paso lost a key piece to its lineup last week when middle infielder Luis Urias was called back up to San Diego. The team has so many offensive weapons that they should continue their record-breaking home run pace into August.
Pitching key next stretch
The biggest key for the Chihuahuas stretch drive will be their pitching.
Logan Allen was sent down to El Paso by the Padres and his return to the starting rotation should be a big boost for the team.
In addition to Allen, starting pitchers Jerry Keel, Dillon Overton, Dietrich Enns and Bryan Mitchell will need to limit the damage when they take the mound.
The bullpen has pitched well for much of the season and Eric Yardley’s return from the Injured List will be a big key. El Paso will play 18 of their final 33 games at Southwest University Park.
The Chihuahuas are just 25-27 at home this season, but hopefully they can turn things around over the final month and return to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.
Their next home stretch is against Round Rock from Wednesday, Aug. 7 to Friday, Aug. 9 and versus San Antonio from Saturday, Aug. 10 to Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at email@example.com.