Lansing Lugnuts: Pitcher of the Year

Did McLaughlin Win the Award for Lansing in 2005?

The Lansing Lugnuts finished with a team ERA of 4.17 this past season. Their starting pitching had its moment, but was extremely inconsistent. The bright spot of their pitching was the bullpen, which featured some solid performances. However, when it came down to picking the Most Valuable Pitcher for the Lugnuts, one pitcher received most of the attention.

Just like Chip Cannon, Casey Janssen tore up the Midwest League with his performance early in the season. Janssen made just seven starts with Lansing before being promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays. In those seven starts he went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA. He allowed just 27 hits in 46 innings of work, while walking just 4 batters and striking out 38.

Another pitcher that received a rapid promotion to Dunedin after a strong was then closer Danny Hill. The right-hander posted a 2.04 ERA in 17 appearances picking up 11 saves in the process. Kyle Yates made 14 starts with Lansing before receiving a promotion to Dunedin, but the right-hander faired much better at the Florida State League than the Midwest League. Yates went 4-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 81.1 innings with Lansing, before going south to Florida and dominating the FSL hitters.

As previously mentioned the relievers for Lansing were enormously successful. One reliever in particular was Joey McLaughlin who appeared in 42 games. McLaughlin was one who pushed for a promotion by his performance but never received it. The right-hander finished the season with 7 saves and a 3.13 ERA. In 46 innings he allowed 36 hits and struck out 45 batters. Daryl Harang pitched just 28 innings as he battled injuries in the middle of the season, but went 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA. Mark Sopko posted a 2.93 ERA in 23 innings before being promoted to Dunedin. Jordan Timm and Aaron Tressler were two relievers who moved throughout the organization in 2005, and posted solid numbers with Lansing. Timm went 2-0 with a 2.47 ERA while Tressler went 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA.

However, without a doubt the MVP for Lansing this season had to be Chi-Hung Cheng. The left-hander went 7-6 this season and pitched to a 3.15 ERA, despite allowing 72 walks. Cheng allotted just 109 hits in 137 innings of work, and struck out 142 batters, while opponents hit just .215 off him. Cheng faired better at home than on the road. He went 3-3 with a 2.08 ERA at home and in 60.2 innings allowing 39 hits, issued 34 walks and struck out 71 batters. In 76.1 innings on the road he went 4-3 with a 4.01 ERA, allowing 70 hits, 38 walks and recording 71 strikeouts.

"He needs to get better command of his fastball to pitch in the Major Leagues" said Lugnuts pitching coach Mike Bradley. "You need to have command of the fastball." Cheng also confirmed to InsideTheDome that consistency is one of the things they worked on together this season in their side sessions.

"I am working on my change up and on a two seam fastball" said Cheng.

Left-handers hit just .188 off the southpaw while right-handers hit .222 off him. Cheng was completely dominant with runners in scoring position holding opponents to a .177 batting average. His only fault was that leadoff hitters batted .301 off him, and many project Cheng to be a reliever as he climbs the ladder.

"I am hoping that I will progress through the system as a starter."

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