POWERHOUSE no more.
The Perth Heat have limped through the first half of the 2016 ABL season and sit dead last with six wins in 20 outings.
Perth’s pitchers have struggled and its offence has put up mediocre numbers as the Heat sit without a series win this season.
They would need to create history to recover and reach the postseason after missing last season for the first time.
What’s gone right
Not a lot. Luke Hughes has been a standout, batting .377 with three home runs, but he has lacked support. The Heat’s bullpen has also performed well but worked a lot of occasions where a game is already lost. Benn Grice has been stingy, as has Scott Mitchinson.
What’s gone wrong
The Heat have been in a position where they are chasing far too often. They have been outscored by 16 runs in the first inning across the opening 20 games and are minus-31 runs in innings 1-3 at the midpoint of the season. Their starters have allowed early runs and put pressure on the offence to play catch-up.
Tom Bailey was injected into Perth’s starting rotation part way through last season and continues to show he belongs. Bailey has been the best of a bad bunch and sports an ERA of 3.99 at the midway point of this season. The right-hander has thrown the second most pitches in the ABL behind Mark Hamburger and the fifth-most innings. The 24-year-old is perhaps unlucky to have only a 1-2 record in five starts.
The return of Joey Wong and Derek Peterson to Perth brought excitement to Heat fans. But Wong has struggled in the opening 20 games, hitting .192 and driving in just five runs. The 28-year-old is struggling on the road, hitting just .130 away from Barbagallo.
Hughes has stood out from the bunch but Ulrich Bojarski has showed why the Detroit Tigers wanted him. Bojarski is still up-and-down, batting .197, but has driven in a team-high 15 runs and hit two homers in 19 games.
What to watch for in the second half
The future – Conor Lourey, Nick Veale, Bailey, Jake Bowey, Sam Kennelly and Bojarski. The Heat’s kids will get their chance and can make a name for themselves and throw a spanner in the playoff hopes of some other sides. Who knows, Perth could get on a roll and in a tightly battled competition behind Melbourne have half a chance.
How would you rate the Heat’s first half of the season? Comment below.
Follow author David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose