Each week I will do a brief preview of each series along with my prediction of who I think will come out on top. This is my prediction only and means zero other than for entertainment purposes.
Round 1 Matchups
(6) Niswonger's Lugnuts vs. (3) Samsel's Yard Goats
Season series: Goats 2-0 (22-6; 12-11)
Field 1- 8AM (Wind blowing out to LF/LCF 13 mph)
This shapes up to be a very good matchup with conditions favorable to an offensive shootout. Although both teams finished in the bottom four in the league in homers, each squad has the bats to take advantage of the conditions. The Goats dominated the first game 22-6 in Allen on field 3 early in the season, but the Nuts lost a nailbiter on Field 2 later in the year 12-11. The Goats were tops in the league in runs scored, first in doubles and 5th in team batting average. They are led by Daryl Drake's .706 avg, 12 HR and 63 RBI and have some very valuable role players that make that offense click. Ari Loiben (.611) and savvy vet Tony Martin (.630) help anchor the top of the order while star rookie Zakary Edgerton (.512) and Nick Croce (.522) make the bottom the table setters and help flip that lineup back to the top. The big story here is how they deal with the loss of captain Tyler Samsel who is serving a one week suspension. Jordan Allsup will surely infuse some more power in the lineup as he led the Astros this season with 25 dingers. However, how will this affect them defensively as Samsel locked down SS all season. This will play a HUGE role in how this one ends up. As for the Lugnuts, they entered the mini playoffs as the 5 seed and won 2 games, outscoring their opponents 22-11, to earn a spot in the dance. They limped into the postseason, going 2-7 in their final 9 games but are peaking at the right time. Nothing real flashy for these guys, but have some solid vet leadership in their captain Jason Niswonger (.614), Matt Shwarts (.543) and Jon Simonson (.500). The Goats have to find out a way to get Larry Farin out as he finished the season with a .621 average, surely a career high for the wiley vet. With bats like Niswonger, Shwarts, Simonson, Brad Parr, Michael Cohen and Leo Quinones, they can make some serious noise with a wind blowing out. I think how the Goats navigate this is a huge key.
Keys to Victory:
Goats- Force their big bats to keep the ball down and in the park and make them play base to base. Be aggressive on the bases and use their speed to force the shaky defense of the Nuts to crack.
Nuts- Make the routine plays and avoid the defensive blow up inning. Wait for the right pitches and take advantage of their power to build a big lead early and make them chase.
My Pick: Goats in 3
(5) Greeley's River Bandits vs. Haas' Bulls
Season Series: Bandits 2-0 (24-6; 8-7)
Field 2- 8 AM (Wind blowing out to RF/RCF 13 MPH)
The Bulls were hard to read all season as they saw two four-game win streaks as well as a five game streak. However, sandwiched around that were losing streaks of 3 games twice. They ended the season ranked in the top 10 in extra base hits as the Bandits were next to last. Both teams were rated near the bottom in homers, but favorable wind conditions should help this. The team that is able to take advantage will have a great chance to advance. The Bulls ranked 2nd in walks but are going against Sean Greeley who doesn't allow many. This game will feature two of the best pitchers in the league, but how they navigate the wind conditions will be key. For the Bulls, everything rides on Greg Hurst (.675) and Craig Dyer (.512) setting the table for Dalton Fallaw (.675, 13 HR, 77 RBI) and Josh Winsor (.590, 16 HR, 60 RBI). Their bottom is very solid with John Burke (.453), Steve Haas (.527), Hap Burden (.565) and Michael Borque (.545). For the Bandits, in my opinion, they go how Ryan Driggers (.617, 23 HR, 69 RBI) goes. If Burke can navigate around him and get him up in favorable situations, it will be a major factor. He is protected by Troy Steele (.562) who only has 3 homers on the season, so we will see how captain Haas handles this. Should be a great matchup.
Keys to Victory:
Bulls: Carry over the solid defense they played most of the season and let John Burke do his thing. Don't get baited by the wind to swing for the fences and drive the ball to the gaps. Get an early lead and frustrate the Bandits pitcher.
Bandits: Consistently have baserunners on in front of Driggers and let him eat. The bottom of the lineup MUST get the lineup flipped and get them an extra at bat or two for them to win. Their defense isn't as strong as the Bulls, so they will need to score more run to make up for it.
My Pick: Bulls in 2
Tag(s): Schedule Captain's Corner Spring 2020 Goofball Captains Handsome Captains Alford's Iron Pigs Brumley's Braves Buhrow's Baby Jays Banta's Grasshoppers Haas' Bulls Greenberg's Knights Greeley's River Bandits Kravitz's Rangers Nutt's/McDonald's Cubs Samsel's Yard Goats Niswonger's Lugnuts Lachman's Royals Eusay's Tigers Prim's Muckdogs Weinfeld's Pirates Roth's Indians Unell's Dash Hauf"s Astros