It's finally here...the first postseason in Munson World history! What a season it has been - with ownership changes, a large collection of talented rookies, heated division races, and teams overcoming injuries. Here is a look at the American League Play-in Series.
*Stat totals current as of game 160 of 162 of the regular season*
Wichita v. Cleveland
Season series: Cleveland 6-4
Team BA: Wichita - .268 Cleveland - .263
Team ERA: Wichita - 4.52 Cleveland - 4.92
Even though Cleveland narrowly edged the Shockers during the season, all four of their losses came on the road. Maybe the Cuyahoga's 5.11 ERA on the road is the reason. Cleveland has solid contributers in Blake Faulk(.328, 42HR-120RBI) and Pablo Hernandez(.311, 27HR-83RBI-35SB) but outside of that, the lineup doesn't have a hitter over .270. The Shockers could capitalize on that with their superior team ERA at home (4.09). With such a dramatic drop in ERA, allegedly due to their stadium, Derrick Lyon(17-8, 4.14ERA 1.28WHIP) and Andy Barkley(39 saves, 1.62ERA 0.84 WHIP) could be tough to beat. Going on the road is also easier for the Shockers with Gerald Bryant(61 HR) and Ernie Harrison(46 HR).
Prediction: Both teams don't hit exceptionally well. The difference lies in the pitching and that's where Wichita will excel. The last three games played between the two teams were decided by only 4 runs. Tomas Morales' 5.05 ERA and 10 blown saves are not going to help Cleveland's cause. Wichita in 3 games
New Orleans v. Las Vegas
Season series: Las Vegas 7-3
Team BA: New Orleans .277 Las Vegas .276
Team ERA: New Orleans 4.57 Las Vegas 4.85
What a tough season for those Ragin' Cajuns. Injuries have undeservedly diminished this team into the four seed and out of current talks of an LCS appearance let alone a World Series. This team thrives on small ball and pitching, hitting the fewest home runs out of any team in the playoffs (163). Danny Davies(16-6, 3.17ERA 1.19WHIP) is stellar but so is Hughie Wood(41 Saves, 1.99ERA 0.77WHIP). Opposing them is a team that has a better record and has beaten them seven times. Las Vegas' Jimmie Ramirez(16-7, 3.19ERA 1.10WHIP) anchors the rotation while Troy Hansen(.288 40HR-116RBI-27SB) has a great all-around presence. While Las Vegas may not have the storyline of adversity, they certainly can play the wildcard. A team drifting under the radar with 93 wins is something to be scared of.
Prediction: Both teams look fairly even with intriguing matchups all around. The Ragin' Cajuns have the pitching advantage but if the Viagras can take one in the Big Easy, they could walk away with the series. Literally. Nearly 700 BBs is the best in the majors. Las Vegas in 4.