Pitching Match-Ups Set For River Cats' Series

The Sacramento River Cats and the Salt Lake Bees have announced their starting rotations for their upcoming Pacific Coast League Pacific Divisional Playoff Series. The best-of-five series begins on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. We have the details inside...

After a rare one-year hiatus from the playoffs, the Sacramento River Cats are back in the post-season and looking to bring home their third PCL title since joining the league in 2000. Sacramento finished the season 24 games over the .500 mark despite a record number of transactions that saw more than 175 player moves at various points this season.

The South Division title-winning River Cats will take on the Salt Lake Bees, who won the North Division with a record of 74-69. Sacramento and Salt Lake split their season series at 8-8 in 2007. The two teams last met in mid-July when the River Cats' swept the Bees in a four-game set. Sacramento's pitching was dominant in that July home series, as the River Cats allowed only four runs in four games. Two of the Sacramento starters in that series, Dan Meyer and Colby Lewis, are no longer with the team, having been promoted to Oakland. However, current Sacramento starters Kazuhito Tadano and Brad Knox had strong outings in that series.

On Tuesday, Sacramento and Salt Lake announced their playoff starting rotations. We take a look at the match-ups one-by-one:

Game One: Shane Komine vs. Bartolo Colon

Sacramento gets a tough assignment right off of the bat in Game One, as rehabbing Angels' ace Bartolo Colon will take the hill for Salt Lake. The former AL Cy Young award winner has a 2-0 record and a 2.40 ERA in two rehab starts thus far for Salt Lake. He lasted five innings in his last outing for the Bees, allowing three runs. He should be allowed to throw 80-100 pitches.

Komine, who is completing his second season in Triple-A, is coming off of his best start of the year. The right-hander allowed only one hit in seven innings versus Colorado Springs on August 29. He struck out nine and didn't walk a batter. It was an up-and-down season for Komine, who finished the year with a 4.87 ERA in the minor leagues. He also threw 7.2 innings in the major leagues, allowing four runs. Komine has struggled on the road this season, posting a 7.34 ERA away from Raley Field (where he has a 2.99 ERA). He was very good in August, going 2-1 in five starts with a 3.00 ERA and striking out 24 against nine walks. In his last outing versus Salt Lake, Komine allowed four runs in 4.2 innings.

Game Two: Mike Madsen vs. Kasey Olenberger

In Game Two, the River Cats will send right-hander Mike Madsen to the hill. Madsen began the season in High-A Stockton, but was promoted to Double-A Midland after only four starts. He was outstanding for the Rockhounds, going 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 11 starts. Madsen was also named as the A's representative in the Futures Game, although he did not appear in the game. His Double-A performance earned him a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, where he has struggled at times. In 10 starts for the River Cats, Madsen went 5-1, but he posted a 5.09 ERA. He struggled at times with his control, walking 30 in 58.1 Triple-A innings. He was solid in his last start on August 30th, however, allowing one run in 5.2 innings. He struck out five and walked one in that outing. Madsen did not face Salt Lake this season.

Olenberger went 10-7 with a 5.25 ERA for Salt Lake this season. He made 28 starts and one relief appearance. The relief appearance came against the River Cats on July 21st, when he allowed one hit in a scoreless inning. He has a 5.32 ERA in 16 starts at home this season. Olenberger has struggled since the All-Star break, posting an 8.53 ERA in 58 innings. This is Olenberger's second season with Triple-A Salt Lake.

Game Three: Brad Knox vs. Henry Bonilla

In Game Three, the River Cats will send Brad Knox to the hill. After starting the year in Double-A Midland, Knox wound-up throwing 139 innings for the River Cats this season. The durable right-hander went 9-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) for Sacramento. A strikeout pitcher earlier in his career, Knox has developed into a groundball pitcher who works quickly and deeply into games. He has averaged better than six innings a start this season. Over his last two starts, Knox has allowed six runs in 13.1 innings. In his last outing versus Salt Lake on July 23rd, Knox allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one. This is Knox's first season in Triple-A.

Knox will square-off versus Henry Bonilla, who was 12-8 with a 5.78 ERA for Salt Lake this season. He was rocked in his last outing for the Bees, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in five innings on September 1st versus Las Vegas. Bonilla allowed three runs in six innings versus the River Cats on July 23rd when he was bested by Knox and Sacramento. Bonilla was in the Minnesota Twins' organization last season, where he went 3-7 with a 4.26 ERA for Triple-A Rochester.

Game Four: Kazuhito Tadano vs. Jonathan Rouwenhorst (if necessary)

Should the series extend into a fourth game, Sacramento will turn to veteran right-hander Kazuhito Tadano. After an injury plagued 2006 season, Tadano was healthy for the entire 2007 season. He began the year as a starter for Double-A Midland, where he was 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41.1 innings for the Rockhounds. He was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in May and he spent time in both the River Cats' bullpen and in the starting rotation. As a starter, Tadano was 4-4 with a 5.72 ERA in 12 starts. Overall, Tadano had a 5.20 ERA in 22 appearances for the River Cats this season. He earned the win for the River Cats against Salt Lake on July 21st in what was technically a relief appearance. Tadano came on in the second inning after Huston Street threw one inning for Sacramento in a rehab assignment. Tadano did not allow a run in 5.2 innings that day to earn the win. He struck out eight in the outing. Tadano has been acting mostly as a reliever of late. His last eight appearances were out of the bullpen, although he went 4.1 innings in his last appearance, which came on September 1st.

Tadano will face Jonathan Rouwenhorst, who went 10-10 with a 4.96 ERA in 33 games (26 starts) for Salt Lake this season. Rouwenhorst is 1-7 with a 5.65 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break. He threw 158 innings this season, allowing 197 hits. The left-hander was primarily a reliever for Salt Lake in 2006.

Game Five: Bobby Cramer vs. TBA (if necessary)

If the series extends to a fifth and final game, the River Cats plan to use Bobby Cramer as the starter in that game. Salt Lake has declined to name a prospective starter at this point. If he does appear in the game, Cramer will be making his Triple-A debut. The left-hander has had quite a season. He began the year out of baseball and working as a teacher and baseball coach for a Southern California high school. He was signed by the A's as a minor league free agent in May and since that time has been one of the A's most consistent minor league hurlers. In nine games (eight starts) for High-A Stockton, Cramer went 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 45 innings. He was promoted to Double-A Midland in July and he proceeded to go 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 12 games (seven starts). He struck out 50 and walked only 10 in 52.1 innings for the Rockhounds. He last pitched on August 31, when he allowed three runs in six innings for Midland in a no-decision.

Other River Cats To Watch:

Nick Blasi: Blasi finished the regular season absolutely on fire. Over his last five games, Blasi went 15 for 24 with eight runs scored, two doubles, one homer and eight RBIs. He finished the year with a .316 BA in 89 games for Triple-A Sacramento.

Kevin Melillo: After struggling for much of the second half with a sore right wrist, Melillo has finally gotten his swing back on track and just in time for the playoffs. He is hitting .324 with eight RBI over his last 10 games and he is 5 for his last 9 with two doubles and four RBI. He finished the season with 10 homers and 55 RBI in 98 games for the River Cats.

Jorge Piedra: Signed to a minor league free agent deal in June, Piedra has put together a very strong season for the River Cats. In 71 games, Piedra has hit .336 with a 958 OPS. The former Colorado Rockies outfielder has hit .368 with two homers and five RBI in his last 10 games.

Daric Barton: After missing most of last season with injury, Barton was healthy and played a team-high 136 games this year. The River Cats' first baseman finished the season with 70 RBI and a .293 BA. He struggled in August, batting only .236, but the River Cats will be counting on Barton to produce during the post-season.

Jeff Gray: After joining the River Cats at the end of April, Gray became an important member of their bullpen. Recently, he has been acting as the team's closer and he finished the year with a team-high 12 saves. In 55 innings, he struck out 45 batters and allowed only two homers. Gray has a 1.54 ERA over his last 10 outings with six saves.

Brad Ziegler: Ziegler also began the season in Double-A Midland, but he became an important cog in the River Cats' bullpen after a May promotion. He finished the year with a 2.96 ERA in 35 relief appearances for the River Cats. Ziegler's ability to throw multiple innings and to induce groundballs from righties could make him a key player for the River Cats in the playoffs. Right-handers hit only .176 against him this season.

Ron Flores: Flores brings a lot of major league experience with him into the playoffs. He pitched for the A's during the pennant race last season and has been throwing well for Sacramento this year. In 40 Triple-A appearances, Flores has a 2.72 ERA in 36.1 innings. The lefty has held left-handed hitters to a .240 BAA.

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