Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pennant Battles


New York MaPS vs. Scottsdale Spartans
For 5 straight seasons these two clubs have been the top two seeds in the American League. And this will be the 4th time in those 5 seasons that the two have squared off in the ALCS. New York has dominated all three previous series, winning 12 of 15 games. During the regular season matchups, New York won 6 of 10 games, all before the all-star break.

Players Who Must Produce:

Norberto Almanza - Pitcher, Scottsdale Spartans
Almanza, a member of season 4 World Series winner Oklahoma City, won 15 games this season. Three of the 15 came against New York. And in those three games, he gave up 4 ER in 20 IP, while striking out 14. In the NLDS he threw seven innings of one-hit ball. If Almanza can contain New York's bats and win two starts for Scottsdale then the Spartans will overcome past failures.

Nick Ransom - Picher, New York Mets R Pond Scum
With Tomas Armas out with a sore shoulder, last season's AL Cy Young must pick up the load. Unfortunately, he has not pitched well against Scottsdale this season. In 3 appearances (2 starts), Ransom went 0-2 with 11 ERs in 10 1/3 IP. The good news for the MaPS is that Ransom has traditionally pitched well in the post season. He was a key starting pitcher on all 4 MaPS World Series runs.


Trenton Capitols vs. New Orleans Flashers

10 straight playoff appearances. 4th time in the NLCS. 2 National League Pennants. 2 World Series losses. These describe both franchises playing in the NLCS. This is playoff matchup #7 for the duo - Trenton has won 4 of the previous 6 series. Trenton also took 7 of ten regular season games, including a 3-game sweep in New Orleans.

Biggest Factor to Winning:
Trenton's Starting Pitching
The Capitols have, arguably, the best pitching staff in Fingers. Their 5 starters combined for 82 wins, a 3.59 ERA, and averaged 201 2/3 IP. In the 4 games in the NLDS, Lonny Gonzalez, Stewart Roberts, Steven Morgan, and Mark Nakamura allowed only 10 ERs in 27 2/3 IP (Damian Martin, the 5th starter did not pitch). During the 7 wins over New Orleans this season the starters had a 2.40 ERa, in the 3 losses their ERA was 6.52.
The New Orleans Bullpen
The Flashers bullpen has been a disappointment all season. They blew 27 saves during the regular season, led the ML with 123 inherited runners scored, and every reliever had an ERA over 4.04. The Trenton lineup didn't help those numbers. In 35 2/3 innings, Trenton pounded out 41 hits, 9 of which left the yard, and they scored 22 runs against the New Orleans bullpen. But the Flashers have been able to turn it around in the postseason; 3-0, 3.57 ERA, 4 saves.

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