Well folks, the NATS organization ended their minor league season on Monday with a clean sweep of their opponents. Now we turn to the playoff where the AA Senators and 2010 Carolina League Champions (A) Potomac Nationals will represent the NATS in the minor league playoffs. We will take a look at each team’s opening series, discuss first game starters, and provide a series prediction.
Before that, a quick thought on Strasburg. Lilly and Mattingly of the Dodgers both made comments stating that they were not impressed or amazed by Strasburg. People who say that are either in denial, lying, or terrified of him. Probably all three. He pitched 2 H baseball and no one really came close to hurting him. He has the potential to be one of the best pitchers ever, but he is nowhere near that yet. However, to discredit him is foolish and sounds envious that you don’t have him on your team.
Senators vs. Flying Squirrels (Eastern League Playoffs)
The key thing about this series would have been that the SENS were supposed to host the first two games. However, due to the rain and flooding now home team advantage goes to Richmond with Games 1&2 being played there. I am confused by this decision. It entirely eliminates the point of winning during the regular season, home field advantage is not being honored and that is a shame. It complicates the series for Harrisburg as they now are forced to take at least one game in Richmond if they want a chance at winning the series. The Squirrels are a solid team that has notched a lot of wins this year and finished behind Harrisburg by 4 games this season. The reason for home field being so important is that the Squirrels are 31-40 on the road while they boast a 45-26 record at home. It will be important for the SENS to pick up two wins at home if they want to extend their postseason past this round. However the SENS are only 9-13 against Richmond this season and will need to find a way to solve this puzzle if they hope to win ball games early.
Players to Watch: For Harrisburg they will need to get key hits and production from Tim Pahuta, Erik Komatsu, and Tyler Moore. These three have been mainstays at the club hitting .260, .234, .270 respectively with Moore having hit 31 bombs during the season. These guys will have to take on the leadership roles necessary to excel in the postseason. They have to provide run support as a team for their pitching staff, which is always altered after September call-ups, making run support even more crucial. Important to note that players that appeared on the SENS all year will not be there (Lombardozzi, Peacock, Tatusko, Harper).
Prediction: For the SENS to win this series they MUST take game 1 or 2 in Richmond as well as BOTH home games. The restructuring of the series has created a big obstacle to the SENS, somewhat unfairly, but then again the best teams find a way to make a play, when the play seemingly is not there. We do not want to have to go back to Richmond for game 5 when they boast a Goliath-like record at home. If SENS win game 1 or 2, I say then win 3-1, but if they fail to accomplish this we could see them bow out from the playoffs early in 5 games.
Pitching game 1: Erik Arnesen (SENS) 8-4, 2.43 ERA in 126.0 IP with 122 K and an OPP BA of .241
Daryl Maday (RICH) 4-10, 4.47 ERA in 116.2 IP with 92 K and an OPP BA of .276.
This series begins in Frederick tonight with the PNats looking to defend their 2010 Carolina League Title. This will be a hard fought series with the PNats going 10-10 against the Keys over the season. Like I said with the SENS it is absolutely crucial for the PNats to take game 1 or 2 if they want to get through the round. It could go either way since both teams have being playing good ball lately. As you see they matched up pretty evenly against each other this season, however PNats took 2 of 3 from the Keys in Frederick two weeks ago.
Players to watch: Destin Hood (.276), Eury Perez (.283), Brian Peacock (.237), and Sandy Leon (.251) need to continue their offensive production in order to help the PNats pitching staff win some ball games. These four players combine for 22 HR, 68 2B, and 187 RBI.
Prediction: Same as above. A win in game 1 or 2 is crucial. This one will likely go 5 games, and the team whose SP plays best in that game will advance. Let’s hope it’s the PNats.
Pitching game 1: Paul Demny (PNats) 10-10, 4.32 ERA in 143.2 IP with 108 K and an OPP BA of .261
Jacob Pettit (Keys) 7-0, 1.62 ERA in 55.2 IP with 41K and an OPP BA of .213
SENS win 3-1 PNats series goes 5.
- Marco, NATS Farm System Correspondent