The Great Lakes Loons, currently tied for second place in the Midwest League, have been teetering on the edge of success for the better part of the early season. From one game to the next, the squad, led by ever-so-knowledgeable manager John Shoemaker, flirts with the idea of breaking through mediocrity into the realm of Minor League Baseball's hierarchy.
Once again, it seems, the doors of opportunity have swung in the opposite direction, as the Loons have found themselves in the midst of another four-game slump. The difference, this time, seems to be the loss of one of their most prolific pitchers, Eric Eadington.
Over the span of May 11-14, the Loons fell in four consecutive games, without the services of Eadington, who was, undoubtedly, their bullpen "ace." A day prior, on May 10, it was announced by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization that Eadington was to be promoted, effective immediately, to their High-A Rancho Cucamonga affiliate. With the Loons this season, Eadington pitched a total of 17.2 innings, in 11 appearances, garnering 1 win, 5 saves and a 3.06 ERA. The native of Orange, Calif., returned home for an immediate, save-earning performance with the R.C. Quakes on May 11.
When I first spoke with Eadington in April, he was upbeat, yet cautious, as he knew the team was "talented, but young." He stated that his goal was to make sure his personal performance was up to the task, which, by doing his part, would make the team stronger.
Upon recent conversation, he continued to be optimistic as to the chances Great Lakes would have for the rest of the season.
Since his departure, however, the Loons have struggled to find a solution to the issue of which bullpen arm would step up and assume the role once held by the now-promoted Eadington. That question still remains unanswered, as the squad has succumbed to three consecutive, narrow defeats.
In the first, Juan Noriega gave up 3 runs on 3 hits, allowing the West Michigan Whitecaps to rally for a May 11 victory. That tough loss was followed by 6-4, 5-4 and 6-3 losses against the Lake County Captains, in which the Great Lakes Loons' bullpen found itself unable to hold the opposing offense.
With modest support from the bullpen, the Loons' 2012 hopes appear to be meager, at best. With shaky offensive consistency, the relief corps needs to build a firm contingency, should the squad have an opportunity to contend in the Midwest League.
-SOURCES-Personal, post-game Interviews, Eric Eadington (Loons pitcher), April 09, 2012
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor," covering the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.