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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 08, 2018 8:19 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (11-6) vs. Bowling Green (11-6)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps have lost the first two games in this four-game series against Bowling Green, slipping back into a tie for first place in the Eastern Division with both the Hot Rods and the Lansing Lugnuts. Fort Wayne will have a chance to get back on track Sunday and Monday, a pair of games that take on added significance because they are the TinCaps' final home matchups for a week. 

To try to bounce back from a couple of tough losses in a row, the TinCaps will send Eastern Division All-Star Game starter Aaron Leasher to the mound. The 22-year-old Leasher is now his team's ace after the promotion of fellow lefty All-Star Nick Margevicius to High-A Lake Elsinore on Thursday. All indications from his performance this season show he'll likely embrace that role.

Leasher ranks fifth in the Midwest League among qualified pitchers with a 2.59 ERA and has been even better lately, giving up no more than one run in five straight outings. In two starts since the All-Star Break, Leasher has given up two runs in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 11. Getting off to a good start will be of paramount importance today against a Bowling Green team that has scored a combined six runs in the first three innings of games in this series.

The Hot Rods will counter with 19-year-old right-hander Tobias Myers, whom Tampa acquired in the Tim Beckham trade with Baltimore last season. Myers has been average this season, posting a 4.15 ERA, but Bowling Green's offense has been so good that he's tied for the league lead in wins with nine. Here's what Fangraphs wrote about him when it ranked him Tampa Bay's No. 14 prospect before the season:

"Myers dominated the (Low-A) New York-Penn League last year ... and has already grown into mid-rotation stuff. Myers sits 92-94 (mph), touches 97, and the velocity plays up due to good extension. His curveball and changeup each flash plus and, while they’re closer to average right now, both project due to Myers’ athleticism."

Myers has already faced Fort Wayne twice this season, once in April and once in June, and the TinCaps have been effective against him. He has given up eight runs in 10 innings in those two outings, although he has struck out 10, as well. The 2016 sixth-round pick is coming off his best start of the season, an outing in which he tossed a career-high seven shutout innings while striking out five in a win over South Bend.

The TinCaps will be without one major component of their bullpen today as right-hander Caleb Boushley – owner of a 2.38 ERA in 45 1/3 innings – got a call-up to Triple-A El Paso earlier today. It's likely not a permanent promotion (he's probably just temporarily filling a roster spot), but Boushley will at least be unavailable for today's game. 

dsinn@jg.net