Early last week, we looked at the playoff chances for the seven Nationals affiliates. The underlying tone was who and when for promotions that would qualify players for the Arizona Fall League, an exercise that has taken on greater meaning with a front office that promotes deliberately and carefully. Just how (much more) would the Potomac roster be gutted altered to meet this goal was the primary question; who would be backfilled from Hagerstown would be the secondary question.
On Monday afternoon, Michael Burgess got the call providing part of the primary answer. On Monday night, a scan of the Potomac box score provided a little more… Derek Norris and Tyler Moore were staying put. Last night, the secondary answer came when minor-league free agent Jamar Walton was assigned to Potomac and played right field in the second game of a doubleheader. Like a middle child, Potomac would have to achieve without advantage or favor.
Now that the other shoe has dropped, here’s a quick revisit of where the affiliates stand as we enter the home stretch…
Trailing Louisville for the wild card by 4frac12; games going into last night’s game, the Chiefs needed to sweep to have much of a chance of making a run. They lost. Most of the drama will be who gets the callup in September.
The infusion of Mike Burgess and Steve Lombardozzi can only help one of the system’s more lackluster offenses, but the trend of falling behind early continues to put more pressure on the bullpen, as witnessed last night. Still only out by two games, but no games remain against the team they’re trying to catch (Bowie) and there’s still seven games against Eastern Division powerhouses Trenton and New Hampshire.
While not the narc-at-biker-rally beatings of years past, Potomac still has trouble winning in Kinston and has seen its lead dwindle to one in the past two days, thanks to three straight losses by one or two runs. They return home this weekend to play playoff-bound Winston-Salem, then Wilmington next week for three games. After that first-vs.-second showdown, the P-Nats take the road for eight games: three against first-half-winner Frederick and five against division-leading Salem. Meanwhile, after its series with Potomac, Wilmington goes to last-place Lynchburg for three then plays out the string with seven straight at home against Myrtle Beach and Frederick. It will basically come down to who’s the hotter team over the last 11 days of the season.
Three straight wins have pulled the Suns out of the cellar, but with an elimination number of just 10 with ~19 games left, the team needs to go 13-6 just to finish .500 overall for the year.
The Lake Monsters lead the division by one game, but have been playing below .500 ball for nearly six weeks. There’s still a series left against the second-place Connecticut Tigers, but no games left against third-place Tri-City, who could potentially pass both teams in the standings. Still time left, but pitching, which was a strength early on, has become a weakness.
GCL & DSL NATIONALS
Both teams have been eliminated. The DSL Nationals can still finish above .500 but the GCL Nationals are playing out the string and whatever pride they may perceive in not finishing last in their division.