San Diego Padres
The TinCaps made it into the playoffs because…of a strong second half where the youth of the team matured, putting promise into production. Jason Hagerty was a man amongst boys, hitting .351 in the second half with a .479 on-base percentage. His force in the middle of the order was a stabilizing force for the younger members of the squad.
On the pitching side, the arrival of Matt Lollis from Eugene has been huge. The big right-hander has posted a 1.66 ERA across nine starts and has been a near certain win any time his spot it up in the rotation. Lollis is in line for a game one start and could set the tone. Miles Mikolas has also converted his final 10 save opportunities after settling in as the closer during the first week of August. His presence at the back end has eased the load for the rest of the staff.
The TinCaps will win the series if…they can play better defense. During the season series, Fort Wayne committed 26 errors in 12 contests, giving away 13 free runs. Great Lakes was second in the circuit in team batting average with a .272 mark. Giving away free at-bats is series suicide. The Loons have plus team speed and will push the pace. Jonathan Galvez must cut down on his mistakes, as he led the club with seven miscues in the season's matchup.
The one Fort Wayne offensive player who is the key to this series is…Nate Freiman. The behemoth first baseman has been consistent all season but struggled against Great Lakes pitching with a .206 average. With Hagerty hitting in front of him and reaching base at an alarming clip, it is up to Freiman to drive the runs in. He comes into the series on a tear. The man who is fifth in the Midwest League in extra-base hits with 56 must have a monster series.
Prediction: This, like last year, could be the series that determines the eventual champion. Last year is a memory and must be forgotten by the current club. They can't hope to live up to the legacy of one of the best seasons every assembled. Jerry Sullivan will play a vital role, a veteran of the pitching staff with the stuff to mow down the competition. He will have a tough assignment in a game three final decision. Daniel Meeley hit .600 off Great Lakes pitching. If he can continue his hot hitting, the TinCaps have a chance to upset the Loons.
TinCaps in three
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Loons made it into the playoffs because…of the consistent hitting from J.T. Wise, and Brian Cavazos-Galvez. Both players finished the season with an average well above .300. Over the last ten games of the season Wise has been exceptionally hot, hitting .444 with three homers and 11 runs batted in. Wish and Cavazos-Galvez are essential to the Loons ability to score runs.
The Loons will win the series if…Allen Webster can continue his dominance and the rest of the staff can step up their game. Webster has been impressive over his past ten games, posting a 2.88 ERA and winning four games. Starter Ryan Chistenson must also get back on track. The young southpaw has allowed 14 runs over his past three starts, while making it past the 5th inning only once.
The one Great Lakes offensive player who is the key to this series is…Cavanoz-Galvez's ability as a multi-tool threat will be the main factor in the Loons' success. The outfielder batted .318 with 16 home runs, 77 runs batted in, and 43 stolen bases during the course of this season.
The fleet feet of Cavanoz-Galvez and Rafael Ynoa will give the TinCaps too much trouble on the base paths. The two speedsters combined for 80 stolen bases in 2010. The time for revenge is now and last year's loss will help give the Loons the motivation necessary to finally send the TinCaps home early.
Loons in three
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