STROHECKER: Struggling York Revolution stand to benefit from Atlantic League's structure
What a difference a year can make.
At this point last season, the York Revolution possessed one of the best records in the eight-team Atlantic League and was on its way to clinching the first half Freedom Division title and an automatic playoff berth.
Move ahead to present day and the team is at the complete other end of the spectrum, owners of the worst record in the league and mired in an eight-game losing streak. Rarely has there been a game, let alone a series, when York showed glimpses of getting back to its winning ways of last season.
The hitting is, at times, difficult to watch, as the team routinely struggles to string together hits in an inning, leaving guys stranded on base rather than knocking them in.
The offense consistently fails to pick up the pitching, which, based on the team's win-loss record, actually is quite strong. However, the few times the offense has come through with good performances, the pitching and defense lets it down.
You could count on both hands the times York's offense and pitching have displayed strong efforts in the same game.
But, in a way, the Atlantic League is set up to counteract those difficulties that teams might face during the first half of the season.
With so many moving pieces — between injuries, roster cuts and players being signed to MLB organizations or going to foreign leagues — the league is, essentially, two seasons in one.
Due to all of those constant roster changes, a team can look immensely different come September than it did on Opening Day.
So, the Atlantic League rewards strong starts by awarding first-half division winners with playoff berths, just in case their rosters undergo major changes and the production on the field declines in the second half. But, it also gives teams that struggle new hope come Game 71, which is basically Game 1 of the new, second half-season.
Which is why, despite all of the Revolution's difficulties in racking up wins during these first 50 games, the season isn't entirely over, despite sitting at 18-32, the worst record in the Atlantic League.
To be fair to York, however, its poor performance isn't just a product of bad play on the field.
Almost from the very beginning of the season, the team dealt with a slew of injuries. Reliever Edward Paredes began the season on the inactive list and now finds himself back on it, again. That was followed by brief stints by catcher Luis De La Cruz, who's fourth on the team in batting average (.277) and starter Anthony Lerew. Now, infielder Mikey Reynolds and pitcher Beau Vaughan have been injured for the better part of a month and one of the more reliable hitters and fielders in the lineup, Eric Patterson, also joined them a week ago.
The nonstop string of injuries forced manager Mark Mason into making constant acquisitions to fill the voids in his lineup. So, while the team is entering the time in the season when it would've hoped to have a general idea of who its core group of players would be, that simply hasn't been the case.
Which basically brings me to the point that I'm trying to make.
This isn't a lost season for the Revs. Surely, it's a lost first half to the season, but there's still another 70-game campaign to go. The Atlantic League has a forgiven format that gives out second chances.
So, while there's still 20 games to go until the All-Star break in early July, which marks the end of the first half of the season, York needs to use this time to find some consistency in almost every facet of its game.
The offense needs to show up, the pitching must remain consistent and Mason, to the best of his ability, needs to tiptoe his way around the rash of injuries that's plagued the team and find an everyday lineup.
The first 50 games haven't gone the way the Revs and their fans would've expected, resulting in a first half that, despite having 20 games remaining, is surely wasted.
But, York will get a second chance to rally and return to the playoffs for a second straight year. Now, it must use these next three weeks to gain some momentum so that the entire season doesn't become a wasted one.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com