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Big East in the Big Leagues: Chasing .300 and Other Adventures

In this week's episode, Joe Panik makes progress in his quest to reach .300, Pat Neshek does the Texas two-step and Amir Garrett sets a season-high for awesomeness.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Panik (St. John's)

Heeeeeeee's back. Anyone who thought Panik was going to struggle to find his stroke coming off of injury was sorely mistaken. In the last week, he has lifted his batting average nearly 40 points, going 10-for-28 on the week with a double, two triples and a RBI. His slash line for the season now reads .288/.341/.513 and with a few more weeks flirting with .400, he'll be back to the low .300 level we have grown accustomed to. Multiple-hit games are the key to lifting the ol' batting average and as you might expect, Panik had a few. In fact, he has had at least two hits in each of the last three games, matching his total through the first 18 tilts of the campaign.

While his bat is just right, Panik has been a bit less "back to normal" in terms of fielding. No need to, uh, well this is awkward. Are we really doing this? OK, here we go. There is no need to P-A-N-I-K since the Giants' second basemen is around his career norms, but he is currently on pace to set a career low in revised zone rating (.783) and is on the negative side of runs saved (-1).

Pat Neshek (Butler)

The budding rivalry between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros is one of the more interesting in baseball. Is it Red Sox/Yankees or Giants/Dodgers? Absolutely not. But the Lone Star Dust-Up (as it will now be called by the nation of me) will likely decide the AL West. Neshek got his first taste of all Texas cooking in 2016 last Thursday. Unfortunately, he must be a bigger fan of Memphis BBQ because he allowed a solo home run to Adrian Beltre during his inning of work.

Its also possible Boston cuisine is more Neshek's style. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in two outings against the Red Sox over the weekend. He has a 1.26 ERA and 16 kazoos across 14 1/3 career innings against the Sox.

Matt Szczur (Villanova)

The life of a bench player, even on a team as excellent as the Cubs, isn't always filled with glamour. Szczur, who had a nice start to the season didn't make a ton of noise during the third week of the campaign. He supplied a RBI single in Chciago's 16-0 decimation of the Reds last Thursday, but he had just two total hits in nine at bats and started in just one game, going 1-for-5 on Sunday against the Reds. His slash line still looks good (.304/385/.478) but all three numbers have been falling of late. In fact, his .478 slugging percentage following Sunday's contest marked the first time it has fallen below .500 in 2016.

Jason Grilli (Seton Hall)

In eight appearances this season, Grilli has allowed five earned runs on nine hits while walking seven. Last Wednesday, he really had trouble. Chosen to pitch the 10th frame during an extra-inning affair against the Dodgers, Grilli allowed a single to Chase Utley, walked Corey Seager, allowed a double to Justin Turner, intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez, struck out Yasiel Puig swinging and was then pulled. Alexi Ogando allowed a single to Yasmani Grandal to allow another run to score, which was also pegged on Grilli's stat line.

After that, Grilli pitched two scoreless innings over the weekend against the Mets, using just six pitches in one of those outings. Grilli believers should take solace in the fact that the 39-year-old is not the only normally effective reliever struggling (paging Craig Kimbrel) plus he had an ERA over five into mid May last year before settling into the high twos for the majority of June and July.

Amir Garrett (St. John's)

All Garrett does is toss gems. He spun a 6 2/3 inning beauty against Jacksonville on Monday, allowing just two hits and striking out a season-high nine batters. That effort earned him his first win of the season. He now has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 total innings. With Cincinnati currently 13th in the NL in team ERA (5.59), Garrett may be closer to his MLB debut than we all know.

Darin Ruf (Creighton)

Two starts and a week of pinch-hitting allowed Ruf enough time to pull even with the Mendoza line, as he is now at an even .200 in terms of batting average. His single on Sunday extended his season-high hitting streak to three games (STOP THE PRESSES!)

Pat Venditte (Creighton)

Venditte is stuck in a rut. He has allowed a run in three-straight games. Making matters worse, he's only pitched in four total this season. His ERA has ballooned to 9.00, although he earned his first hold of the campaign and third of his career in a 3-2 loss to Baltimore last Thursday.

Danny Burawa (St. John's)

He was sailing along, on strikeout bay, when he ran up against the Columbus Clippers. In his last outing, Burawa allowed three runs on two hits and three walks and didn't get a single out as his ERA jolted up to 5.14 from 1.29. He now has 11 walks in seven innings this season after totaling 32 free passes in the minors in 2015.

Ty Blach (Creighton)

When we last checked in on Blach, he was allowing hits and runs in bunches. Not much has changed. In his only start this past week, he let up two runs on five hits in five innings, although he did earn a win. He is now 2-2 with a 5.95 ERA.