Sioux Falls, S.D. – For the third time in the season’s first month, and the second time in a week, the Chicago Dogs (5-16) and Sioux Falls Canaries (7-14) will meet, as the two teams begin a four-game series Monday night in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Chicago took two of three from the Birds in their series June 4 through June 6 at Impact Field, holding Sioux Falls scoreless over the final 24 innings of the series. Sioux Falls took two of three from the Dogs during the opening series of the season from May 18 through May 20 in Sioux Falls.
The two teams, which occupy the last two spots in the American Association’s North division, have matched up fairly evenly through their first six tussles of 2018, with Sioux Falls outscoring Chicago 22 runs to 21.
The Canaries bring the league’s second worst staff ERA with them into the series, at 5.61, but the Birds have brought that number down almost a full run over their past six games, having allowed just 19 runs over that span. Prior to that stretch, Sioux Falls had surrendered 31 runs in four games. Canaries pitching has allowed seven or more runs in ten of the team’s 21 contests.
Meanwhile, Chicago pitching has had a good month of June, particularly out of the bullpen. After pitching to the tune of a 5.51 staff earned run average in May, Dogs arms have posted a 3.24 ERA through 86 innings pitched in June. In 33 innings, Dogs relievers have posted a sparkling 1.64 ERA. Chicago pitching has also struck out 8.58 batters per nine innings in June, after striking out 7.35 batters per nine in May.
The Dogs are also reaping the rewards of lengthy starts for the first time this year in June. After seeing a starting pitcher log at least six innings in a start just once through their first 14 games, Chicago has had a starter go at least six frames four times in their last seven games. Three of those four starts resulted in quality starts, something Dogs pitchers had also achieved just once through the season’s first 14 games.
Offensively, the two teams matchup fairly evenly across the board. Both are in the bottom fourth of the league in team batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, and on-base plus slugging percentage. Both teams have been quiet of late offensively as well, with the Canaries having averaged 2.3 runs per game over their last six contests, and the Dogs having averaged 3.2 runs per game over the same span.
Sioux Falls possesses just one player (Blake Schmit) whose batting average ranks in the top 50 in the American Association. Conversely, Chicago has two players in the top 50 in Treysen Vavra and Edwin Arroyo. Schmit is hitting .294 on the year entering Monday, good for 35th best in the league. Vavra’s .370 average ranks him fourth in the American Association, while Arroyo’s .276 average ranks him 43rd.
Chris Grayson represents the primary power threat in the Canaries lineup. He enters Monday with five long balls, tying him with four other players, including Vavra, for sixth in the league. Grayson homered when the two teams first met in the season’s opening weekend, while Vavra homered twice in last week’s series at Impact Field.
Vavra’s playing status for the series may be in peril however, as the Dogs utility man was forced out of Sunday’s series finale in Winnipeg after being hit in the hand with a pitch. The Dogs have now been hit by 19 pitches through their first 21 official games, the highest tally in the league. Meanwhile, as perhaps a painful harbinger of things to come for Chicago, Sioux Falls pitching has hit more batters (19) than any other staff in the American Association.
The game one pitching matchup features two starters meeting for the second time in six days. Scott Barnes gets the nod for Chicago and Miles Norgren goes for the Birds after both pitched six shutout innings last Tuesday in a 1-0 eleven-inning Chicago victory. Connor Root will pitch Tuesday for the Dogs coming off eight shutout innings against the Canaries last Wednesday. Sioux Falls has not yet announced a Tuesday starter. Wednesday will see Michael Wagner start for Chicago against Cesilio Pimentel, and Thursday’s finale pits Kylin Turnbull against Joe Bircher.
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday all have scheduled first pitch times of 7:05 p.m., while a Wednesday matinee is scheduled for 12:35 p.m.
Each game of the four-game set will be broadcast at www.thechicagodogs.com/broadcasts