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Burning questions - Brisbane
Three burning questions for the Bandits
10/29/2018 9:54 PM ET
 

The Australian Baseball League season is edging closer and Brisbane will launch their assault on a fourth-straight title on November 15 against Adelaide.

Here are three burning questions for the Bandits ahead of the ABL season getting underway:

 

1. Will they be able to perform at their peak … again?

Brisbane are scary good, we know that.

On paper, with a few roster slots still to be filled, it is easy to argue the 2018/19 version are better than last season.

The Bandits' success has been built on its core Australian talent getting better and better, with imports playing the roles around them.

Andrew Campbell, Logan Wade, David Sutherland, Mitch Nilsson and Wade Dutton to name a few have continued to top their own personal bests in key statistical categories across the past few seasons.

Brisbane players, during their recent dominance, have rarely had bad seasons.

Last season only two qualified Bandits' hitters averaged below .280.

Two teams - Melbourne and Adelaide - failed to reach that benchmark.

Brisbane also put together a league-best ERA despite playing half their games at a hitter friendly ballpark.

Can they keep it up, or will a few of their guns' numbers drop?

 

2. What has manager David Nilsson got planned with his pitchers?

The Bandits have bolstered their league-leading pitching staff with the addition of Twins' prospect Lewis Thorpe and Adelaide closer Loek van Mil.

At the same time they have retained the services of 2017/18 starters Ryan Bollinger, Tim Atherton and Travis Blackley.

But it might not be as simple as adding Thorpe to the rotation to cover the fourth slot Chen Hung-wen, Pat Young and Justin Erasmus shared last season.

Both Thorpe and Bollinger are coming off long Minor League seasons.

Thorpe worked 129 2/3 innings and Bollinger 111 2/3.

Bollinger has elected free agency so - if he is feeling fresh - will be keen to start as much as possible to earn a new contract.

But Thorpe will surely have limitations placed on him by the Twins and his availability for the Bandits remains unclear at this stage.

He could pitch for half a season or even out of the bullpen, leaving a spot in the rotation vacant.

Does Nilsson go with Erasmus to round out the rotation or does the addition of van Mil free Ryan Searle up to switch back to a starting role?

Or has the Team Australia boss got something else up his sleeve?

 

3. Can Donald Lutz and T.J. Bennett be stopped?

Sorry ABL pitchers, they're back!

Donald Lutz and T.J. Bennett return to Brisbane after finishing tied atop the ABL home run leaderboard with 16 each last season.

They helped the Bandits hit an ABL record 96 homers - 24 more than next-ranked Perth - and equalled former Melbourne import Kellin Deglan's single-season home run record in the process.

It wasn't just at hitter-friendly Holloway they did their damage, either.

Lutz split his 16 regular-season bombs equally between home and road.

The pair might not have as easy a time of it in 2018/19 with all teams putting a strong emphasis on strengthening their pitching.

But even if they go deep 10 times each, that's a fair bit of damage on the scoreboard.

 

What are your burning questions for the Bandits?

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.