August in the Altoona Curve clubhouse means one thing this year: all hands are on deck.
“Once August hits, it’s all off the table,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “You perform, you execute, you’re going to get those innings. If you don’t, you’re not going to.”
For Altoona, as they inch closer to the playoffs and catching the Bowie Baysox for the Eastern League Western division lead, Ryan is prepared to do whatever it takes to put together his strongest lineups for the stretch. Playing time this time of year is earned by the members of the Curve roster according to Ryan.
“They’ve earned to play in these meaningful games this last month. It wouldn’t be fair to the rest of them them if we were just getting trying to get this guy in for two innings or this guy has to get 20 at bats this week because of this or that.” Ryan said.
So, if you thought Mitch Keller was called-up to eat some innings, think again. Keller was promoted because Ryan, his coaching staff, and the Pirates’ organization think he can perform at the level Altoona needs him too as they enter the home stretch of the season in the month of August.
“It’s up to them, once you get the uniform, to execute and perform,” Ryan said.
Suiter was relatively unknown until landing in Altoona in 2017 following being promoted from Bradenton. The Curve needed an outfielder to step up with Jordan Luplow being sent to Triple-A and boy, has Suiter taken the bull by the horns in that regard.
Prior to his 0-for-5 night Thursday, Suiter had been hitting .320 since June 2nd tops in the Pirates’ organization during that time span.
Suiter perfectly exemplifies what his manager is looking for when it comes to performance. Since getting to Altoona, Suiter has done nothing but perform game in and game out.
On the season, the right fielder is hitting .295/.382/.456 with eight home runs, 15 doubles, and two triples. To go along with that, Suiter has 42 RBIs and has walked 34 times on the season.
Prior to Keller being called-up, it was Jordan George who was most recently promoted from Single-A Bradenton. As the roster replacement for Edwin Espinal, who was promoted to Triple-A last Thursday. George has picked up right where Espinal left off.
A switch-hitter, George was hitting .400/.478/.700 in the six games entering Thursday night’s game. The performance in those six games comes after he slashed .302/.399/.488 in 69 games for the Marauders.
With two doubles Thursday night, George upped his season total to five in addition to his one home run making it that 60 percent of his hits since being promoted have gone for extra bases.
Anderson moved to the pen
Tanner Anderson was in the rotation for most of the year, however, it looks as though he will spend the rest of the season in the bullpen according to Ryan.
“We’re just trying to limit Anderson’s innings, that’s why he’s been moved to the bullpen.” Ryan said.
Anderson’s move to the bullpen to limit his innings makes sense as Altoona needed room for Brandon Waddell to return to the rotation but is also due to the fact Anderson has thrown two more innings (116.2) this season than he did in his career prior to joining the Curve(114.2).
With the move from the rotation to the pen, Anderson takes with him an 8-8 record with a 3.69 ERA. Anderson has appeared in 21 games with 19 of those coming as a starter.
As for the role Anderson will play? Expect Anderson to be used sparingly for an inning or two when Altoona desperately needs a ground ball.
Altoona hits the road to take on the Eastern League-leading Trenton Thunder in a three-game series beginning Friday before returning home to take on a seven-game home stand starting Tuesday. Taking the mound for the Curve Friday against the Thunder will be Austin Coley (4-2, 2.88 ERA) while Will Carter (1-0, 2.75) takes the mound for Trenton.
The seven-game home stand will feature three games against the Reading Phillies before Trenton comes back to town for a four-game series beginning next Friday.