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The MLB Postseason continues Thursday as both of the National League Division Series get underway. The Brewers, after defeating the Cubs on Monday to clinch the NL Central, host the Wild Card Game victor Rockies. Then it’s the Dodgers, who beat the Rockies on Monday to win the NL West, hosting the Braves. Each of the 10 clubs in the postseason had/has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and it’s possible the Sounds are the only minor league team that can claim that. As many 50 former Sounds could be involved by the end depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the two NLDS match-ups, and I’ll cover the American League Division Series on Friday.

(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the Rockies-Cubs game HERE.)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the A’s-Yankees game HERE.)

Colorado Rockies
Record:
 91-72
How they made it: Won the second NL Wild Card spot; Defeated the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Game
Fun fact: Last year the Rockies reached the playoffs for the first time since ’09, and now they’ve made it in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.

The Rockies don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Steve Foster (’91-’92), who pitched in 59 games for the Reds from ’91-’93 and appeared in 58 games as a Sound over two seasons. He posted a 2.14 ERA with 12 saves for the Sounds in ’91 and then had a 2.68 ERA in 17 outings (7 starts) in ’92, the final year of the Sounds’ affiliation with the Reds before they became a White Sox affiliate.

Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster (Courtesy Nashville Sounds)

Milwaukee Brewers
Record:
 96-67
How they made it: Won the NL Central
Fun fact: The Brewers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 when they were the Sounds’ parent club and reached the NLCS.

The Brewers have three former Sounds on their active roster, all of whom were with the Sounds during that affiliation. Lorenzo Cain (’08, ’10) made his return to Milwaukee this year as one of the big off-season acquisitions by the Brewers (also see Yelich, Christian). They’d drafted him in ’04 and then included him in the trade with Kansas City that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee going into ’11, which was the last Brewers playoff season until now. Cain hit .308 with a career-high 30 steals this year in a lineup that continues to boast one of the all-time Brewers greats, Ryan Braun (’07).  Braun has 20-plus homers for the ninth time in his career. The Brewers’ bullpen is nasty, and a big reason why is former Sound Jeremy Jeffress (’14), one of three Milwaukee relievers with 10-plus saves. Jeffress owns a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances. The Brewers also have a pair of former Sounds on manager Craig Counsell’s field staff. Their hitting coach is Darnell Coles (’92), who played in 22 games for the Sounds in 1992 when they were a Reds affiliate. He hit six homers in those 22 games, and three of them came on April 10 at Denver that season when he tied a franchise record. He remains one of seven Sounds all-time to hit three homers in one contest. He technically was also the Sounds’ manager for a brief time. He’d been named to that post by the Brewers in October ’13 before getting a major league coaching job with the Tigers later that off-season. The Brewers then replaced him in Nashville with Rick Sweet, who managed the Sounds in ’14 and has been Milwaukee’s Triple-A manager ever since. Former Sounds catcher Robinzon Diaz (’14) serves as the Brewers’ bullpen catcher. It’s his second season in that role. He played in 38 games for the Sounds in ‘14 and retired as a player after the ’16 season. The Brewers have another local connection on their staff with pitching Derek Johnson, who was Vanderbilt’s pitching coach for 11 years (’02-’12) before he joined the Cubs as their minor league pitching coordinator. It’s his third season as Brewers pitching coach. Part of what makes the Brewers’ pitching staff so impressive is they’ve been without one of the anchors of their starting rotation, former Sound Jimmy Nelson (’13-’14), all season. He’s recovering from a right shoulder injury.

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Atlanta Braves
Record:
 90-72
How they made it: Won the NL East
Fun fact: The Braves are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and they’re looking to get past the Division Series for the first time since 2001.

The Braves don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Chuck Hernandez (’83), who made five starts for the Sounds in 1983 as a Yankees minor leaguer. That became his final season as a player, and he’s been a professional coach in some capacity ever since. Though they don’t have any former Sounds as players, the Braves certainly have some local ties with several former Vanderbilt stars, including Ryan Flaherty, Dansby Swanson, and late in the regular season, Kyle Wright. Unfortunately a lingering left hand injury kept Swanson off the Braves’ roster for the NLDS.

Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez (Courtesy MLB.com)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Record:
 92-71
How they made it: Won the NL West
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season. If they reach the World Series, they will have won consecutive NL pennants for the first time since 1977-78.

The Dodgers once again boast a pair of former Sounds on manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff. Their third base coach is Chris Woodward (’08), who played 12 years in the major leagues and hit .291 in 71 games for the Sounds in 2008. The Dodgers’ hitting coach is former Sound Turner Ward (’99), who also played 12 years in the major leagues. He hit .292 in 35 games for the Sounds in 1999. Woodward and Ward observed first-hand the monster season from former Sound Max Muncy (’15-’16), who went from an unsigned minor league free agent in early ’17 after being let go by the A’s to an everyday big leaguer and a Home Run Derby participant who smashed 34 homers this year. Among the things I’ll never forget about Muncy is his game-winning hit in extra innings in the inaugural game at First Tennessee Park on April 18, 2015. What a way to open a new ballpark! The Dodgers had two former Sounds on their roster late in the season they’ve elected to leave off their roster in the NLDS. One is the amazing switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (’15), who went back and forth several times this year from L.A. to OKC. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances in the big leagues. The other is John Axford (’09-’10, ’17), who worked in 45 games for the Blue Jays before the Dodgers acquired him in late July. Other local connections with the Dodgers include Vanderbilt alum Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ 1st-round pick in ’15 who made his major league debut last year and was the Dodgers’ starting pitcher Monday against the Rockies in Game 163, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native, former UT Vol and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

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Enjoy the playoffs!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

 

The MLB Postseason got underway last night with the National League Wild Card Game. Tonight it’s the American League’s turn. It’s the A’s at the Yankees, and a ton of former Sounds are involved. As I wrote yesterday, each of the 10 clubs in the postseason has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and as many 50 former Sounds could be involved depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the Athletics and Yankees. I’ll have more on the Division Series teams tomorrow, and you can see yesterday’s post about the former Sounds that were involved in the Rockies-Cubs game HERE.

New York Yankees
Record: 100-62
How they made it: Won the top AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Yankees’ 100 wins marks just the second time a Wild Card team won 100-plus games, as the ’01 A’s won 102.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (’78) was part of the Sounds’ inaugural season, as he made five relief appearances that year as a Reds minor leaguer. He made just seven appearances in the major leagues as a player (Tigers ’81-’82) but has had a very long career in the big leagues as a coach and manager. One of the pitchers Rothschild oversees is Sonny Gray (’17), the Smyrna native and Vanderbilt alum who made a rehab appearance with the Sounds last year. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games (23 starts) this year for the Bronx Bombers, though he is not on their roster for the Wild Card Game.

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Oakland Athletics
Record: 97-65
How they made it: Won the second AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The A’s are in the playoffs for the first time since they made it three years in a row from ’12-’14, and their 97 wins are their highest total since they won 103 in ’02.

Given that the Sounds spent the past four seasons as an A’s affiliate before recently announcing a new parent club, and the A’s then affiliating in Las Vegas, there aren’t many members of the A’s who are NOT former Sounds. Of the 25 players on the A’s roster for tonight, 19 are former Sounds in one way or another, and 12 of them played for the Sounds this past season! The A’s amazing season has been piloted by manager Bob Melvin (’85), who has managed the club since ’11. He batted .271 with nine homers and appeared in 53 games for the Sounds in ’85 when they were a Tigers affiliate and was called up to Detroit in late May that year for his major league debut. His bench coach, as many Sounds fans know, is Ryan Christenson (’17), who managed the Sounds last year before joining Melvin’s staff this year. Keep in mind that teams use a very different strategy in making roster decisions for the single Wild Card Game than for the best-of-five Division series, so it’ll change if the A’s defeat the Yankees and advance. The A’s have joined the trend of teams electing to use a reliever, or “opener,” to start a game, and tonight they’ll give that job to Liam Hendriks (’16, ’18), who rehabbed with the Sounds two years ago and then made 23 appearances with the Sounds this past season after being designated for assignment. He had a 2.84 ERA for the Sounds, earned his way back to Oakland in September and had much better results down the stretch. The A’s have two former Sounds who played in Nashville as Brewers prospects and now are key veterans in Oakland: outfielder/DH Khris Davis (’12-’13), who had another monster year with an 48 homers (1st in MLB) and 123 RBIs (2nd in AL), and catcher Jonathan Lucroy (’10, ’12), a crucial presence for a mostly young pitching staff. The young core of the A’s and their bright future is built around several recent Sounds, including first baseman Matt Olson (’16-’17), who played in all 162 games this year, third baseman and soon-to-be perennial Gold Glove winner Matt Chapman (’16-’17), utility man Chad Pinder (’16-’17) and outfielder and human highlight reel Ramon Laureano (’18). The Sounds’ team MVP from this year, Nick Martini (’18), has become a fixture in the Oakland outfield and the top of the order, and second baseman and Sounds fan favorite Franklin Barreto (’16-’18) is on the A’s roster for the Wild Card Game over Dustin Fowler (’18) as a speed option off the bench. The only regular starting pitcher the A’s have on their roster for this “bullpen game” is Edwin Jackson (’18), and the rest of the pitching staff includes several guys who pitched for the Sounds this year: Emilio Pagan (’18), Lou Trivino (’17-’18) and J.B. Wendelken (’18). Catcher Josh Phegley (’16-’18), who earned his way back to the A’s roster this year after a stint with the Sounds, will back up Lucroy tonight, and Mark Canha (’17-’18) is in the outfield and another of the many A’s who played for the Sounds this year. There are also four A’s players who played for the Sounds at some point in the past few years on a major league rehab assignment: infielder Jed Lowrie (1 game in ’16), shortstop Marcus Semien (3 games in ’17), reliever Ryan Buchter (4 games in ’18) and outfielder Matt Joyce (9 games in ’18).

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Enjoy the playoffs!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

Welcome back to October baseball! It felt like the MLB postseason got started yesterday with two divisions needing a 163rd game to claim a champion, but tonight it officially starts with the National League Wild Card Game. This year, like every year, the playoffs are swarming with former Sounds. Between the 10 clubs in the post-season and what their active roster looked like at the end of the regular season, there could be over 50 former Sounds involved in the playoffs, and several more who have local ties in other ways. Below is a look at the former Sounds involved tonight, and I’ll have more on the American League Wild Card game tomorrow and the Division Series combatants on Thursday.

Chicago Cubs
Record: 95-68
How they made it: Won the top NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Cubs have now reached the post-season four years in a row, the first time they’ve done that in the history of the franchise, which began in 1903.

The Cubs ended the regular season with two former Sounds on their player roster. One is Franklin resident Ben Zobrist (’15), the three-time all-star who appeared in three road games for the Sounds in ‘15 on a rehab assignment with the A’s. Longtime Sounds fans may also remember Zobrist’s wife, Christian recording artist Julianna Zobrist, from being a featured artist at a Faith Night concert at Greer Stadium several years ago. The other former Sound is Brandon Kintzler (’10-’12), though the Cubs elected to leave him off the Wild Card Game roster because he pitched Monday in Game #163 against the Brewers. If the Cubs advance, Kintzler would be on the Division Series roster. He was acquired from Washington at the July 31 trade deadline and pitched for Washington against the Cubs in the playoffs last year. The Cubs do still have a local connection in their bullpen for Tuesday’s game against Colorado, as they’re including Clarksville native Alec Mills, who pitched against the Sounds this year with Iowa and made seven appearances in the big leagues for Chicago. Mills played collegiately at UT-Martin. Cubs third base coach Brian Butterfield (’82) played four years of professional baseball and appeared in 11 games with the Sounds in ’82 on a team that won the Southern League title and boasted players like Brian Dayett, Rex Hudler, Otis Nixon and Buck Showalter. Butterfield has plenty of postseason coaching experience, having been with Boston the previous five seasons. The Cubs have another local connection on their coaching staff with assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, a former MTSU coach who makes his off-season home in Columbia, TN. Haines and his family had spent plenty of time as a visitor at First Tennessee Park the last few years, first managing in the Pacific Coast League with New Orleans for the Marlins, and then joining the Cubs and serving two years as their minor league hitting coordinator before assuming his current role.

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Colorado Rockies
Record:
 91-72
How they made it: Won the second NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: Last year the Rockies reached the playoffs for the first time since ’09, and now they’ve made it in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.

The Rockies don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Steve Foster (’91-’92), who pitched in 59 games for the Reds from ’91-’93 and appeared in 58 games as a Sound over two seasons. He posted a 2.14 ERA with 12 saves for the Sounds in ’91 and then had a 2.68 ERA in 17 outings (7 starts) in ’92, the final year of the Sounds’ affiliation with the Reds before they became a White Sox affiliate.

Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster (Courtesy MLB.com)

Enjoy the playoffs!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The Sounds are in the middle of their final road trip of the season as they play Game 2 of a four-game series Saturday night in Memphis. The Sounds lost 9-3 last night in the opener and are 10.0 games behind the Redbirds with 10 to play in the season. So any remaining Sounds loss or Redbirds win will clinch the division for Memphis. Tonight Frankie Montas takes on lefty Austin Warner.

First pitch from The Bluff City is set for 6:35 pm CT with pregame at 6:20 on 97.5-FM, the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps, and online HERE.

Below is audio from recent pregame interviews on this trip, including manager Fran Riordan, right-hander Daniel Mengden, second baseman Franklin Barreto, and Redbirds voice and former Sounds broadcaster Steve Selby.

August 24 – Steve Selby:

August 23 – Franklin Barreto:

August 22 – Daniel Mengden:

August 21 – Fran Riordan:

Thanks for listening! On the air and off.

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The Sounds are enjoying their final off day of the ’18 season today before they start their final road trip of the season on Tuesday. It’s a 10-game trip that starts with a three-game series in Round Rock, Texas. Last night the Sounds ended their homestand with a 5-4 win, thanks to Beau Taylor’s go-ahead RBI single in the eighth and four scoreless innings from the bullpen.

First pitch from Round Rock tomorrow night is set for 7:05 pm CT with pregame at 6:50 on 97.5-FM, the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps, and online HERE.

Below is audio from the homestand featuring pregame interviews with 20-year-old lefty Jesus Luzardo, A’s special assistant Mark Kotsay, outfielder Dustin Fowler and more.

August 19 – Jesus Luzardo:

August 18 – Mark Kotsay:

August 17 – Mr. Tim Grubbs:

August 16 – Jorge Mateo:

August 14 – Dustin Fowler:

August 13 – Interim manager Eric Martins:

August 12 – Rick Rodriguez:

August 11 – Eric Martins:

Thanks for listening! On the air and off.

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The Sounds continue their four-day series in Colorado Springs tonight and are looking to move their winning streak to 11 games. Last night they throttled the Sky Sox in the series opener with an 18-9 rout. They’ll first have to finish a suspended game from May 3, which they lead 14-6 going to the ninth inning. May 3 was a series finale the last time the Sounds came to The Springs, and the game was delayed by a couple of hours before getting underway, and it later reached a travel curfew and was suspended. Resumption of play for that contest is set for 6:00 CT. Then the originally-scheduled game, still a 9-inning game, will get underway later as planned.

First pitch from Colorado is set for 7:40 pm CT with pregame at 7:25 on 97.5-FM, the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps, and online HERE.

Below is audio from recent pregame interviews with manager Fran Riordan, Giants pitching instructor and former Sound Ryan Vogelsong, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and outfielder Brett Vertigan, now back at Double-A Midland.

August 9 – Sheldon Neuse:

August 6 – Fran Riordan:

August 5 & 7 – Ryan Vogelsong (Parts 1 and 2)

Ryan Vogelsong pitched for the Sounds in ’01 and ’03 when he was with the Pirates

August 2 – Brett Vertigan:

Thanks for listening! On the air and off.

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The Sounds conclude their seven-game homestand tonight as they play the final of a four-game series in Salt Lake City against the Bees. The Sounds are off Tuesday and back at First Tennessee Park on Wednesday to begin a seven-game homestand against Fresno and Sacramento. Last night the Sounds snapped a four-game skid with a much-needed win.  Tonight Daniel Mengden looks for his third consecutive seven-inning start and opposes Luis Pena.

First pitch from The Beehive State is set for 8:05 pm CT with pregame at 7:50 on 97.5-FM, the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps, and online HERE.

Below is audio from recent pregame interviews with manager Fran Riordan, A’s minor league hitting coordinator Jim Eppard, outfielders Ramon Laureano and BJ Boyd, and right-handers ChrisBassitt and Liam Hendriks.

July 30 – Fran Riordan:

July 27 – Jim Eppard:

July 26 – Ramon Laureano:

July 25 – BJ Boyd:

July 24 – Fran Riordan:

July 22 – Liam Hendriks:

July 19 – Chris Bassitt:

Thanks for listening! On the air and off.

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.