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Handsome Captains Division Semi-finals Game Preview and Picks

By JJ Eusay, 10/21/20, 6:00PM CDT


Handsome Captains Division Semi-Finals (Best of 3 series)

Weather Forecast- Temps in low to mid 50’s with Wind out of SE @ 13 mph

(4) Haas’ Bulls vs (1) Buhrow’s Baby Jays     

8 AM- Spirit Park Allen  Field 3 (Wind 13 mph out to RCF/RF)

Season Series- Jays 2-0 (7-5, 12-6)

The Jays took the season series by winning both games, one played on the exact field they will share this weekend.  In earning the top seed, the Jays have enjoyed a long break to rest and heal up which the Bulls battled through a series with the River Bandits that took all three games to decide the winner.  A walk off homer by Dalton Fallaw helped his team advance and get another shot at Buhrow’s squad.  The Jays saw their season take a major turn and change the entire complexion of the division when they acquired Andrew Williams to replace John Howard.  After starting the season with two losses, they went 19-5 the rest of the way to take the division by two games over the Pirates.  The Bulls took more of a roller-coaster route with winning and losing streaks mixed in along the way.  Nonetheless, here they both are going head to head for a spot in the Division Finals.

     When you go into the numbers to look at these teams, you see many statistical categories where they are ranked very closely together.  The Bulls were 2nd in the league in walks which could come into play here.  As someone who played on Field 3 last week, I can testify that pitching in the wind in that direction is a challenge.  The Jays lineup is anchored by Williams (.778, 19 HR, 68 RBI) and the Buhrow brothers Dylan and captain David along with Sam Cassell help set the table.  The bottom of the line-up is very solid with sneaky good hitters like Art Rothenburg, Michael Barth and Andy Williams.  They won’t blow you away offensively, but they are steady and will keep the pressure on you defensively for sure.  The Bulls, on the other hand, have some bats that can frustrate a team on the right field in the right conditions.  Last week they tortured the River Bandits on the right side of the field and you can bet they try to duplicate that with the conditions similar.  Fallaw will look to continue his hot hitting in the post season (2 HR, 3 triples, 4 doubles, 7 RBI) and lead his team to a big upset.


Keys to Victory:

Jays- They have to get off to an early start and shake off the rust of the long break.  Areas where a long layoff can hurt a team is pitching and hitting at the bottom of the lineup.  These are both critical for them to advance.  The Diamondbacks last season with Williams as captain was in a similar situation as the top seed and dropped two straight after a long layoff.  I am sure he will use his experience to help Buhrow navigate this series.  The bats around Andrew will have to be consistent and force them to pitch to him. 

Bulls- I think to win this game they have to score early and often and force the Jays to go base to base and string hits together.  They have one of the best pitchers in the league in John Burke and they will rely on him to get the ball hit where they want.  Getting Hap Burden back this week will be a big factor.  They MUST make the routine outs and avoid the big inning and get some double plays at the bottom of the order.  Offensively, they need to use their strength of hitting to the right side and exploit the holes in the defense. 

Before I make my pick, I will boast and say that I picked all winners correctly last week. 

My Pick:  I think this will be one of the tightest contests of the day.  I just don’t like the long layoff and the field conditions working against the Jays.  The Bulls will exploit that right side and Burke will work his magic.  This one will be an upset with the #1 seed going down.  BULLS IN 3


(3) Samsel’s Yard Goats vs. (2) Weinfeld’s Pirates

8 AM- Spirit Park Allen Field 4 (Wind blowing in from LF/LCF @ 13 mph)

Season Series- Pirates 2-0 (26-13, 10-7)

The Goats get their captain Tyler Samsel back this week after serving a one week suspension and he will be needed.  They finished the regular season hot going 4-1, but hit some adversity when they had to play round 1 without their leader.  Huge credit to the team and Matt Myers for stepping up and playing together to earn a win, just playing two games and dominating the Lugnuts.  However, this will be a different challenge battling a stout Pirates team.  The Buccos finished the last ten games of the season with an 8-2 record behind some air tight defense and great hitting.  They are led by FOUR players that are hitting above .600.  Brian Ortega (.741), Brandon Strull (.686), Tim Jamieson (.683) and Michael Thiele (.609) have been major catalysts for the offense the led the league in batting average, OBP, OPS and was second in slugging.  This could cause major problems for the Goats, especially if they allow the bottom to flip that order often.  Defensively, the ranked second in the league in runs allowed.  This is a recipe for a championship.  Last week the Goats scored 46 runs in 2 games without their captain so there isn’t reason to believe they can’t make this a game.  One big note here is that the Goats are missing ROY candidate Zak Edgerton, Nick Croce and Keith Dlott but are picking up subs Larry Farin, Brian Allsbrook and Valentin Diaz.  How will these parts fit in with the team chemistry?  That will be a big factor in the outcome of this series.

Keys to Victory

Goats- Giving the Pirates extra out will be nearly impossible to overcome.  They must use their speed to stress the defense to make some mistakes and manufacture some runs.  They must make Thiele throw strikes and make him pay in the zone.  With the wind conditions this will be a defensive game so all runs will be valuable.  Baserunning needs to be smart and opportunistic.  There are arms you can run on so they have to take advantage of that. 

Pirates-  Simple. Do what you have done all season.  The wind conditions shouldn’t affect them a ton since they have many line drive hitters.  The bottom of the lineup needs to put 2 or 3 hits together to get the lineup flipped.  Don’t chase runners and just make them go base to base.  Make it a short quick game and that works into their favor. 

My Pick:  I think the Pirates are just too well built to lose this series.  Too many bats and rock solid defense.  One of the best teams Weinfeld and Strull have put together and they should win this one easily.  Pirates in 2