For the first time in their professional careers, Jordan and Justus Sheffield’s teams faced off against each other when the Arkansas Travelers hosted the Tulsa Drillers for a four-game series last weekend.
In front of an ample amount of family members, the two Tullahoma natives delivered when their respective numbers were called. Arkansas got the series win, notching three victories, with Tulsa scoring a victory on Friday night.
Justus is currently a starting pitcher for the Travelers, tossing game three of the series on Saturday. Jordan, a reliever for the Drillers, made appearances out of the bullpen on Friday and Sunday night.
During game two of the series on Friday, Jordan notched his fourth save for Tulsa, striking out all three batters that he faced, allowing the Drillers to notch the 2-1 victory.
On Saturday, Justus picked up where his brother left off, tossing seven innings of no-hit baseball, throwing the longest outing of his professional career, but received a no decision. In eight innings on Saturday, Justus allowed just one run on two hits and a pair of walks, while striking out eight batters.
“I felt good in the bullpen,” Justus told reporters after the game. “But there were some jitters with family being in town. They were a little rowdy last night, but with what was going on, they were quiet tonight.”
After not allowing hit through seven innings, Justus surrendered a leadoff double to Keibert Ruiz in the top of the eighth inning. Before the inning concluded, Brandon Montgomery ripped a two-out single, evening the score at 1. Justus ended his night and the eighth inning by striking out Logan Landon.
Arkansas went on to notch the victory, scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, securing the 2-1 win. After coming in for relief in the top of the ninth inning, Joey Gerber received the win for the Travelers, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
“I did know [about the no-hitter],” Justus told reporters following Saturday’s contest. “Later in the game, the no-hitter crossed my mind, but I didn’t think much of it. I wanted that complete game. ... It was definitely a fun game.”
Jordan made an appearance out of the bullpen for Tulsa, as the teams were tied at 1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Unfortunately for Jordan, he took the loss, surrendering four walks, as Arkansas scored the 2-1 victory.
Since joining Tulsa earlier this season, Jordan has a 2-1 record with the Drillers, with four saves in 15.1 innings pitched. He has only allowed two earned runs and four hits, for a miniscule ERA of 1.17, allowing 10 walks in his 13 games pitched, with 26 strikeouts.
Jordan is a 2013 Tullahoma High School graduate who then attended Vanderbilt University. In 2016, the right-handed pitcher was a first-round draft selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Since being drafted, Jordan had spent time in the Arizona League before being called up to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers’ Class A-Advanced affiliate, in 2017. In 2018, Jordan was plagued by on the field troubles and a forearm injury, which sidelined him for the majority of last year.
Before hitting the disabled list, Jordan had an ERA of 7.33 in just seven starts. However, once he returned from injury, he was moved to the bullpen, where he didn’t allow a run seven of his final nine outings of the year.
That success carried over into this season for Jordan. In 15 appearances, he allowed just five runs in 17.1 innings pitched, for an ERA of 2.60, striking out 26 batters, while only allowing six hits and five walks.
That success was rewarded and on May 15, Jordan was promoted to double-A, joining the Drillers.
Justus had spent the majority of his season in Triple-A for the Seattle Mariners, pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers. However, up there, the left-hander struggled for consistency and put together a 2-6 record with a 6.87 ERA in 13 games, with 12 of those being starts.
So far in Arkansas, Justus has found himself again, allowing three runs across 20 innings, striking out 24 batters and only allowing four walks. Those walks are what plagued Justus in Tacoma, as he allowed 41 base on balls across 55 innings pitched.
“I felt good in Spring Training,” he said. “Then I had a couple of rough starts at Tacoma and it just snowballed. Now I’m back to being me. It’s about executing — throwing pitches, hitting my spots. After that, whatever happens, happens … Walks are going to happen. I have to stay away from leadoff walks, two-out walks. I just have to take it one pitch at a time.”
Justus, a 2014 Tullahoma High School graduate, was a first-round selection of the Cleveland Indians straight out of high school. In 2016, he was traded to the New York Yankees organization, where he spent the last three years, making his major league debut at Yankee Stadium last September against the Boston Red Sox.
During this past offseason, Justus was part of a trade that sent him to Seattle, while the Yankees received starting pitcher James Paxton from the Mariners. The majority of this year, Justus has been with the Rainiers, making one appearance for the Mariners.
Coming out of the bullpen, Justus pitched three innings against the Texas Rangers in Seattle on April 26. In that outing, Justus was a little erratic for the Mariners, surrendering a pair of runs, including a home run and four walks.
Hess improving in Norfolk
Justus hasn’t been the only one who has been finding himself since being demoted. In late June, the Baltimore Orioles optioned David Hess, a 2011 THS graduate, to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
After allowing five runs in his first outing for Norfolk, Hess has since settled down, shutting out opponents in his next nine innings pitched. On Saturday, the right-hander tossed three innings against Charlotte, allowing just a hit and a walk, while striking out five batters.
Prior to being sent to Norfolk, Hess had been a starter for the Orioles, struggling severely. After nearly tossing a no-hitter at Toronto in April this year, Hess seemingly lost rhythm after that start. In 13 starts this year in Baltimore, Hess has a 1-9 record, with a 7.36 ERA in 66 innings pitched.
In four games with the Tides, Hess has a 1-1 record and picked up a save. In 11 innings, he’s allowed five runs on 10 hits and three walks, while striking out 14 batters.
Hess was selected by the Orioles in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He officially made his debut with the Orioles in May of 2018 and has been with the organization since that time.