One thing this weekend made clear is that Brewster is poised to overtake Chatham for a playoff spot. The Whitecaps haven't been rolling - more like treading water - with a rather mundane 4-5-1 record over their last 10 games, but that has been enough to close the gap on the reeling Anglers who have gone 2-8 in the same span. Chatham has 34 pts., while Brewster is right behind with 32 pts. Brewster has two games in hand. Chatham leads the season series 3-1, and the two teams will conclude the series with games at Veterans Field on Wednesday and Saturday. This isn't to say that Falmouth (29 pts.), Harwich (28 pts.), or Hyannis (27 pts.) couldn't get hot in the last week and a half of the season and sneak into the playoffs, but Brewster has the best chance to bypass Chatham as of today. Teams are so closely bunched heading into the home stretch that Yarmouth-Dennis is the only sure thing for a playoff berth. Orleans, Bourne and Wareham will likely wrap up spots. Cotuit (35 pts.) could get hot and pass one of those teams ahead of them, or they could be passed by Chatham, Brewster, or any of the teams presently trailing them. It will be an interesting race to August 5. When Brewster added Nathan Baker (Mississippi), Caleb Cotham (Vanderbilt) and Kendal Volz (Baylor) recently, I mentioned that they had greatly improved their pitching staff. That prediction is looking good so far. In 9 innings, Baker has an ERA of 3.00. Cotham (9 IP) and Volz (2 IP) have yet to give up a run. Sean Hoelscher (1.64 ERA), Mark Canha (.257 avg. with 3 HR and 11 RBI) and Tim Ferguson (.238 avg., one HR, 11 RBI) have been removed from Brewster's roster.
In game 2 of yesterday's doubleheader against Hyannis, the Whitecaps were forced to turn to C/DH Jim Klocke (SE Missouri St.) to pitch in relief. Things didn't go well as Klocke allowed 3 hits and 2 walks in his two innings of work, and he took the loss in the 3-2 Mets win. Since Brewster did not play on Thursday or Friday, I'm not sure why their pitching was stretched to the point where Klocke had to be put in that situation. Now the Whitecaps are in a stretch where they play 6 games in 5 days, have Thursday off when the All Stars are recognized at Fenway, then finish the season with another stretch of 7 games in 6 days. That would be a test for any team's pitching depth.
My son's take on the Chatham situation?? The Anglers got off to a hot start when they had most of their players while other teams were waiting on late arrivals. Once some of those players arrived, the other teams simply got better than Chatham. Their final rosters are better than Chatham's final roster. It's a hard point to argue. 9-1 seems like a long time ago. Chatham is 8-18 since that start. DH Rick Oropesa (USC) and RHP Logan Verrett (Baylor) were really the only late arrivals that Chatham had. As opposed to last year when they were forced to use the maximum number of roster moves allowed, this year Chatham has had to make very few moves. Outfielder Steven Brooks (Wake Forest), who suffered a leg injury while trying to make a catch in Falmouth last Wednesday, has left the team and reportedly will have surgery. Brooks, batting .273, had been one of Chatham's more consistent hitters. Biggest sign of trouble in Chatham? Where to begin? Their .213 team batting average has dropped them to eighth in the league and the team ERA which not too long ago was challenging for the top spot is now last at 3.76.
In a scheduling quirk, Y-D has finished their season series against division rivals Orleans and Chatham. The Red Sox went 5-1 against the Firebirds and 4-2 against the Anglers. Y-D has lost once in their last 12 games.
In the West, Wareham (39 pts.) holds a slim one point lead over Bourne. The Braves have played 3 fewer games. After beating Wareham yesterday, Bourne has won all 5 games between the teams this year. On the flip side of that, Wareham has won all 5 games against Hyannis. The Gatemen play each of those teams one more time. After much was made of Brandon Workman's (Texas) inning of work in the All Star game, Bourne got to Workman early and often yesterday. He allowed 7 hits and 5 walks while giving up 6 earned runs in just 4 innings. In taking the loss, Workman's ERA jumped to 4.60.
Cotuit is a hard team to figure. They can win one, lose one. They are capable of winning 5 in a row, or losing 5 in a row. A long losing streak seems much less likely when you have Jake Buchanan (North Carolina St.) and Chad Bell (Walters State CC) in your starting rotation. Buchanan leads the league with a 0.50 ERA while Bell comes in sixth at 1.34. With those two at the top of the rotation, the Kettleers will be a tough draw in the playoffs - if they get in.
Falmouth is hard to figure too. The Commodores have a very talented lineup. Once again, it looks like a Falmouth player will lead the league in batting. Todd Cunningham (Jacksonville State; batting .393) has a wide lead on Y-D's Austin Wates (Virginia Tech; .352). Auburn's Hunter Morris has 5 homeruns but he has only driven in 9 runs so far. Pitching remains the team's stumbling block. Although the staff ERA has gone down by half a run per game from where they were a couple weeks ago, they are still next-to-last at 3.65.
Y-D's Mario Hollands (UC-Santa Barbara) is 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA. I chuckled when I saw a scout's comment that says "he is not particularly effective." Hmmm..... tell that to the Cape League hitters who are batting .204 against him.
Whoever posted the comment to CodBall recently and said Twitter is pretty lame... you're right. Does anyone really need to know that you're going to the grocery store, playing a video game, etc.? Having said that, I have an account and it is a pretty good way of tracking Cape League games close to real time. After the season is over, I have a feeling I won't use it again until next June.
A list of "name" players who are struggling would have to include Wareham's Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech) who is batting .220, Alex Dickerson who is batting .205 with just one homerun after hitting 14 homers for Indiana in the spring, and Texas' Connor Rowe who is hitting just .122. For Y-D, Micah Gibbs (LSU) is batting .189. In Hyannis there was a lot of pre-season chatter about Winthrop's Eddie Rohan who is now hitting .193. In Cotuit, returning All Star Kevin Patterson (Auburn) is batting just .167 while highly-regarded teammate Tony Plagman (Georgia Tech) is sitting at .207. For Chatham, Matt Harvey's (North Carolina) problems have been detailed here before, but his lack of control has been the leading cause of his 0-2 record and 6.61 ERA. Harvey has walked 11 and hit 2 batters in 16.1 IP. Virginia's Jarrett Parker is only batting .197, mostly out of the leadoff spot, for Brewster. Ben Klafczynski (Kent State) came to Bourne with a lot of hype but is only hitting .185.
For Y-D, it isn't a bad combination to be leading the league in batting (.258) and ERA (2.59).
Bourne's Kyle Roller (East Carolina) leads the league in four categories: homeruns (6), doubles (10), extra basehits (17) and slugging percentage (.593). Not a bad year!
For someone who believes there is no such thing as too much baseball, it is hard to say this since the new playoff format provides an extra couple games; but I'll go on record now and say that I don't like the format. The part I don't like is that we can have two teams from the same division playing for the championship. Yes, an arguement can be made that those two teams may be the best teams and they should be playing for the championship. Fine. Good point. If that's the case, why have divisions? Just have a ten team league and give the top two teams a first-round bye. Have #3 play #6 and #4 play #5, with the winners moving on to play #1 and #2 in the semifinals. The way it is now, it could be like having the Dodgers and Phillies or Red Sox and Yankees playing each other in the World Series.