Rosemont, Ill. – After a season-long seven game road trip, the Chicago Dogs begin a six-game homestead Friday night as they welcome the St. Paul Saints to Impact Field for a three-game Father’s Day weekend series.
Friday’s game will feature a replica home hat giveaway to the first 1,500 fans through the gates at Impact Field, while Saturday’s game will feature a post-game fireworks spectacular, and Sunday’s game will feature a special Father’s Day Pre-Game catch on the field, as well as autographs and the Top Dog Skills Showcase Post-Game. Tickets are on sale for each of the three games online by visiting www.thechicagodogs.com/tickets/ or in line by visiting the Impact Field ticket office.
The series pits the first and last place teams in the American Association’s North division against each other in the Saints and Dogs respectively. Chicago and St. Paul met once earlier in the season, with the Saints sweeping a three-game set from the Dogs May 21 through May 23 in St. Paul.
St. Paul brings a 16-9 record into the series, having dropped two of three to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks earlier in the week, while the Dogs enter Friday’s game at 6-19 having lost three of four games to the Sioux Falls Canaries this week.
The staple of the Saints is premier pitching. St. Paul brings the league’s lowest earned run average (3.12), WHIP (1.17), and opponent’s batting average (.229) into the weekend, and they have also allowed the fewest home runs as a staff (12) in the American Association.
St. Paul pitching hit a bit of a rough patch for the first time in awhile during their series earlier in the week against the Fargo-Moorhead. The RedHawks scored 17 runs, with 15 of them earned in three games against Saints pitching, good for a 5.00 ERA for the St. Paul staff during the series. In their nine games prior to their series with the RedHawks, St. Paul pitchers had allowed just ten earned runs, good for a 1.14 ERA.
Not only is the St. Paul staff excellent at limiting runs and hits, they also pound the strike zone. They possess the fourth fewest walks in the league with 71 as a staff and the second most strikeouts with 211.
St. Paul pitchers will be running into a Chicago offense that is white hot over their past five games. The Dogs have collected 53 hits over that span, and have posted double digit hit totals in four of them. Chicago has hit .294 during the five-game stretch, raising their overall team batting average by 14 points to .245. The Dogs have also been walking with more frequency of late. They enter Friday’s game with 72 walks drawn as a team, but 14 of those walks have come in their last four games, including a single-game franchise record eight free passes on Thursday in Sioux Falls.
Conversely, the St. Paul offense has been consistently good all year. The Saints find themselves in the top third of the league in home runs (20), batting average (.284), on-base percentage .(329), and slugging percentage (.414). St. Paul been particularly good on the road so far this year, batting .306 as a team with 12 home runs over 13 road contests. The Saints have also excelled with runners in scoring position, hitting .291 as a team over 230 such situational at-bats.
Again, St. Paul batters will run into a fairly hot Chicago pitching staff. After a turbulent month of May that saw the Dogs pitch to a 5.51 earned run average, the Chicago staff has done a full turn in June, logging a 3.40 earned run average through 119 June innings thus far. The Chicago bullpen has been particularly stingy, pitching to a 1.42 ERA over 44.1 June innings. The Dogs staff also hasn’t walked a batter over their past 18.1 innings on the mound entering Friday’s game.
Working in the favor of the Dogs staff is the recent departure from the St. Paul roster of their most productive hitter so far this season, Josh Allen. Allen, who was hitting .344, good for eighth best in the league entering Friday, had his contract purchased by the New York Mets on Thursday. Allen has posted 12 extra-base hits and 11 RBI for the Saints in just 90 at-bats this year. The St. Paul lineup does feature two other batters whose averages are north of .299 in Dante Bichette Jr. (.316) and Brady Shoemaker (.300). Bichette Jr. is seven for his last 18 entering Friday’s game. Furthermore, St. Paul catcher, Justin O’Conner is tied for eighth in the American Association with five home runs.
The biggest contributor of late offensively for the Dogs has been Edwin Arroyo. Arroyo is hitting .415 over his past ten games and collected nine hits during the four-game set with the Canaries. After a slow start to the season, Arroyo has his average up to .326 on the year, tying him for sixteenth in the league. Treysen Vavra remains in the top ten in hitting for Chicago as well, as his .345 average ranks seventh best in the American Association.
On the mound, St. Paul features three starters in the top fifteen in the league in earned run average. However, at least preliminarily, it appears as though the Dogs will miss facing two of the three. The one Chicago will have to solve is Eddie Medina, who takes the ball in game one. With a 3.34 ERA over five starts, Medina ranks fifteenth in the American Association. Chicago will counter on Friday with their opening night starter, Josh Goossen-Brown who is coming off his first victory of the season in his last start and has gone at least six innings in each of his last two starting nods.
The game two starting pitching matchup features Jake Esch for St. Paul against left-hander Scott Barnes for the Dogs, while game three sees Connor Root go for Chicago. St. Paul has yet to name a starter for Sunday’s Father’s Day series finale.