Round 1 Matchups
(5) Lachman’s Royals vs. (4) Prim’s Muckdogs
Season Series: 1-1 (13-7 Dogs; 12-10 Royals)
Field 4- 8 AM (Wind blowing in from CF/RCF 13 MPH)
These two teams will meet up on the very same field they did in their first meeting, a 13-7 win by the Muckdogs, looking quite a bit different. In what could be summed up as a roller coaster season with many loops, the Royals 2020 campaign has ultimately landed them right where they wanted to be, in the playoffs. Captain Larry Lachman has had to navigate a season ending injury to his top pick in the draft Matt Ruckel early in the season and each week was a sub fest. A tip of the cap for him getting his team here after dealing with all of that. And now, he is forced to field a team missing half of his players. Nonetheless, they have a team waiting for them that is rested and having won 4 of their last 5 games to earn a spot in the playoffs. The Prim’s have had their share of issues to deal with during the season, but have done an amazing job in their first season as husband/wife combo captain. (We all really know who calls the shots here Donald) The Muckdogs are a team built for a playoff run with their defense. They allowed the least runs in the division and did it by being rock solid in the middle outfield with Donald Prim and rookie phenom Aaron Holmes manning LCF and RCF respectively. The infield is strong as well with Greg Ritter as 3rd and Brad Earls at SS while vet Larry Taub locks down 2nd. Offensively, they aren’t a flashy squad, as they rank in the lower half in most statistical categories. However, they find ways to get runs home and then use their defense to shut you down. Prim (.683, 25 HR, 76 RBI) anchors that lineup and they have great table setters in Holmes, Ritter, Earls and Taub. They also have a very solid bottom with veteran playoff experience in Scott Sulzer, Robbie Franklin and Robert Reighter. On the flip side, the Royals finished 3rd in the league in team batting avg. and middle of the pack in homers. These numbers really don’t mean a ton since they are missing half of their squad so we have to look into the subs to get a read on this one. This week they secured the services of Tim Kaminski (Braves), Tim Jamieson (Pirates), Arevalo Gonzalez (sub list), Jason Murray (Astros), Donnie Holtmann (Pirates), and Jonathan Braun (Astros). Kaminski is a professional hitter and can hit it anywhere in any conditions and is a great pickup for this game. Jamieson adds to the power and is great protection for Max Henry. Arevalo will be a solid fill in at shortstop and help the defense. Holtmann and Braun are solid role players that hit well and field their positions well. All in all, Larry did a great job here and this should be a great matchup.
Keys to Victory:
Muckdogs: Just do what they do. Put up early runs and put the defensive clamps on. There will be lots of new guys playing together on the other side so the quicker you can get up on them, the more they will start pressing. Pitch to your strength and make their hitters hit into that stiff wind and elevate the ball. They MUST throw strikes consistently which will be huge with Carver out this week. This means Sulzer has to be on his game. Don’t chase the big inning and just string hits together. This is a defensive field and that is your strength so just use it.
Royals: They will have to catch lightning in a bottle here to win this matchup. With a strong win blowing in from CF/RCF, there will be opportunities to hit the ball out to LF. They MUST take advantage of this to score runs in bunches because they won’t be given many extra outs. In my opinion, the weakness you have to exploit is their pitching. Sulzer can get erratic and very frustrated. Make him throw strikes and when he does, make him pay. If you can get him out of the game and a change has to be made then Duron will take over. That works to their advantage and can change the whole complexion of the series. Patience is the key here.
My Pick: I just think the Dogs have been through too much together this season for a throw together team to come in and upset. Defense wins championships. Dogs in 2
(6) Eusay’s Tigers vs. (3) Nutts/McDonald’s Cubs
Season Series: 1-1 (16-7 Cubs; 18-13 Tigers)
Field 3- 8 AM (Wind blowing across from LF to RF 13 MPH)
Yes I am writing this preview, but I will try to be subjective and refer to the numbers to tell the story. Of course I will pick my team to win. No reverse jinx here!
Both of these teams finished the year strong with the Cubs winning 4 of their last 5 and Tigers winning 3 of their last 4. The Tigers battled the injury bug all season, with half of their players missing weeks due to some type of injury. When the full squad is together, they have yet to lose a game. Rookie star Taylor Abrego and myself missed the first meeting with the Cubs and Abrego missed the second tilt. The Tigers are a true Jekyll and Hyde team in the truest sense. There are some games where we come out and score tons of runs in an inning and put people away early like we did to the Muckdogs in game 1 and Astros. On the other hand, there are games when the bats go completely quiet and the defense resembles something from the Bad News Bears. With that said, I will put the offense we roll out there against any in the league and like my chances. The Tigers are near the top in most of the offensive categories. However, the Cubs are almost identical in some areas. Both teams tied for 2nd in homers with 57 and team batting average is only .04 different. The Cubs scored the most runs in the league this season with 360 in comparison to only 301 by the Tigers. Another big different is the Cubs allowed 317 runs while the Tigers allowed 335. This is a VERY evenly matched series and should be fun. Offensively the Tigers have four players with double digit homers this season and I am not one of them. Abrego (.692, 12 HR, 51 RBI), Ariel Rodriguez (.639, 12 HR, 40 RBI), Joe Machado (.610, 12 HR, 50 RBI) and Kelly Alexander (.570, 11 HR, 43 RBI) are a murderer’s row in the middle of that lineup sandwiched between myself (.725) and Carlos Moran (.536). Runs will be scored for sure and stress will be put on the opposing defense. The question here is will the defense hold up. The Cubs are built around rookie star Tanner Gandy (.655, 10 HR) and his blazing speed patrolling the outfield and hitting in that leadoff spot giving slugger Lee McDonald (.735, 23 HR, 69 RBI) plenty of RBI opportunities. Losing Lance Gandy early in the season hurt them defensively, but they have adjusted well with Joe Calvano subbing in for them. Aaron Nutt (.596) mans shortstop very well and is a very solid and crafty hitter protecting Lee in the lineup. Eric Clausen (.506) should have a great day hitting with that cross wind and the Allsbrooks are always tough outs. Going to come down to who makes the defensive plays in this one.
Keys to Victory
Cubs- Not going to tell you how to beat us. Sorry.
Tigers: MUST make their bottom beat you. Make the routine plays and make them play base to base and string hits together. Offensively, the ball MUST be kept down and out of the air and RF and RCF needs to be exploited. You cannot allow walks to the bottom of their order so they can do damage. Wind conditions should favor you here so take advantage. Bottom of the order is key and must avoid the double plays.
My Pick: This will be a tight contest and there will be lots of back and forth. If I were not playing and just watching, this would probably be the series I sit and watch. Which team makes the big defensive play and which team gets the key hit in a big situation will determine this. Tigers in 3.
Tag(s): Schedule Captain's Corner Spring Season 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