For the second time in three seasons, Potomac will be taking part in the Carolina League playoffs. For the first time since 2007, the Frederick Keys are returning. It’s being dubbed as the Battle of the Beltways — though Frederick is nearly 30 miles away from 495 — by the Keys for Games 1 and 2, while Potomac will host Game 3, and Games 4 and/or 5, if necessary.
In the overall standings, the two teams are separated by just a game and a half, but it’s a nearly a ten-game swing in each half. In the first, Frederick won 41 games to Potomac’s 31, while in the second, Potomac won 39 to Frederick’s 31. Advantage, Potomac, right?
Yes and no.
It may sound trite, but clichés are what they are because they’re true just often enough: In a short series, anything can happen, and the last two times Frederick appeared in the playoffs, they limped in with second halves not unlike this one… and then went on to win the Mills Cup.
Frederick holds the season-series edge at 11-9, but broken down by halves it’s 8-2 in favor of Frederick in the first, 7-3 in favor of Potomac in the second. The visiting team has won 13 of the 20 matchups. Both teams have had big bats bumped up — Steve Lombardozzi and Mike Burgess for Potomac, Joe Mahoney and Xavier Avery for Frederick. But fortifications have come from opposite directions: demoted AA players have been the primary replacements for Potomac (e.g. Bill Rhinehart, Sean Rooney) while Frederick has promoted (Jonathan Schoop from Bluefield, Mychal Givens from Aberdeen).
On paper, this playoff series figures to be a slugfest, as the 38 combined runs scored in a late-season series suggests. Frederick, despite losing the likes Avery and Mahoney, still boasts the second-best offense in the Carolina League with 691 runs scored. Potomac, fueled by the hottest player in the Carolina League, if not the minor leagues (Tyler Moore), comes in at 3rd by that measure (665 runs) but is second in HRs and slugging percentage. Harry Grove field isn’t exactly Petco field when it comes to keeping the ball in the yard (third most homer-friendly in all affiliated minors, according the most recent three-year average conducted by the Baseball Think Factory).
But strange things happen in the playoffs, so about the only thing that could possibly surprise would be three or more games with 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 scores.
Without further ado, here’s the breakdown, starting with the schedule…
Game 1 at Frederick, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
Game 2 at Frederick, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.
Game 3 at Potomac, Sept. 10 at 7:03 p.m.
Game 4 at Potomac (if necessary), Sept. 11 at 6:35 p.m.
Game 5 at Potomac (if necessary), Sept. 12 at 1:05 p.m.
And here are the announced matchups, per MiLB.com…
Game 1 Danny Rosenbaum (3-2, 2.09) vs. Oliver Drake (6-6, 4.36)
Game 2 Trevor Holder (3-3, 4.09) vs. Ryan O’Shea (7-8, 3.84)
Game 3 Jimmy Barthmaier (4-1, 3.62) vs. Zach Clark (2-3, 5.25)
Game 4 Marcos Frias (7-5, 5.69) vs. Luis Noel (3-2, 6.18)
Game 5 TBD vs. TBD
And — don’t underestimate this, it matters big-time — the weather forecasts…
Game 1 – 78° and clear
Game 2 – 76° and clear
Game 3 – 76° and clear
Game 4 – 76° and clear
Game 5 – 81° scattered t-storms (40%)
Projected Starting Lineups
3B Dan Lyons (.221/.352/.306 , 1HR, 13RBI)
C Derek Norris (.235/.419/.419, 12HR, 49RBI)
RF Bill Rhinehart (.254/.328/.466, 14HR, 51RBI)
1B Tyler Moore (.269/.321/.552, 31HR, 111RBI)
DH Sean Rooney (.258/.320/.400, 3HR, 22RBI)
LF Jamar Walton (.302/.309/.453, 1HR, 11RBI)
SS Jose Lozada (.256/.307/.390, 6HR, 34RBI)
CF Nick Moresi (.236/.283/.342, 1HR, 24RBI)
2B Francisco Soriano (.198/.319/.302, 1HR, 10RBI)
CF Kyle Hudson (.260/.348/.304, 40SB, 83R)
LF Bobby Stevens (.256/.354/.350, 4HR, 39RBI)
CF Xavier Avery (.280/.349/.389, 28SB, 73R)
LF Kyle Hudson (.260/.348/.304, 40SB, 83R)
RF Ronnie Welty (.282/.349/.464, 18HR, 82RBI)
3B Billy Rowell (.275/.348/.408, 11HR, 61RBI)
2B L.J. Hoes (.278/.375/.368, 3HR, 44RBI)
1B Tyler Townsend (.284/.385/.552, 3HR, 14RBI)
SS Pedro Florimon Jr. (.288/.361/.423, 4HR, 33RBI)
C Brian Ward (.199/.322/.254, 2HR, 30RBI)
DH Jonathan Schoop (.238/.273/.381, 0HR, 3RBI)
Update: Potomac’s radio broadcaster, Will Flemming, is reporting via Twitter that Xavier Avery has been reassigned from Bowie to Frederick
Potomac in four games.