Previewing The 2012 Eastern League Championship Series

STARTING LINEUPS

Projected Akron Lineup:

Jordan Henry, RF (.211/0/0)
Tyler Holt, CF (.294/0/3)
Chun-Hsiu Chen, DH (.118/0/2)
Jesus Aguilar, 1B (.188/0/0)
Matt Lawson, 2B (.250/1/2)
Adam Abraham, LF (.250/1/3)
Ryan Rohlinger, 3B (/235/1/3)
Davis Stoneburner, SS (.429/0/0)
Roberto Perez, C (.333/0/1)

Projected Trenton Lineup:

(Game 5 ELDS lineup)

Adonis Garcia, CF (.188/0/0)
Ramon Flores, LF (.188/1/2)
David Adams, 3B (.200/0/1)
Zoilo Almonte, RF (.154/0/2)
Addison Maruszak, SS (.357/2/3)
J.R. Murphy, C (.250/1/2)
Tyler Austin, 1B (.333/0/1)
Rob Segedin, DH (.200/0/3)
Walter Ibarra, 2B (.083/0/0)

Analysis: Akron is somewhat of a tricky team to break down. Their playoff numbers are a little deceiving, but then again, so are everyone else’s…their team batting average of just .235 still leads all Eastern League postseason teams. Chen is regarded as their best hitter, and he had a .308 average in the regular season over a span of 108 games. But he has little pop, hitting just five home runs. In fact, the Aeros had only two players with double-digit home runs all season; Nick Weglarz and Adam Abraham. Weglarz only appeared in one game in the Bowie series and isn’t expected to start in this one, while Abraham primarily played first and third during the regular season, but was in the outfield during Game 5.

The Thunder offense also underperformed during the postseason, but they have more power threats in their lineup. Zoilo Almonte, Kevin Mahoney and Addison Maruszak each had double-digit home runs this year, and Maruszak carried that into the postseason, tying for the playoff lead with two in four games. There will be some lineup shuffling during the series, likely between Mahoney, Rob Segedin and Tyler Austin. Although, with Walter Ibarra hitting just .083 this postseason, Mahoney could be considered to replace him at second base.

BENCHES

Projected Akron Bench:

C, Michel Hernandez (DNP)
INF, Ronny Rodriguez (1 game, did not bat)
OF, Delvi Cid (4 games, 1 at-bat, .000)
OF, Nick Weglarz (1 game, 2 at-bats .000)

Projected Trenton Bench:

C, Jeff Farnham (DNP)
OF, Shane Brown (DNP)
INF, Kevin Mahoney (.111/0/0)

Analysis: The Aeros bench likely features a few more weapons than that of Trenton, but if Mahoney were to start the series on the bench, that’s not a bad option to have. However, Delvi Cid brings speed off the bench (71 stolen bases in 2010) that Trenton simply does not have. And Weglarz, whose career has stalled out at Akron ever since getting there in 2009, hits consistently for power.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUPS

GAME 1: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 7:05pm @ Akron
Trenton RHP Brett Marshall (0-1, 5.14) vs. Akron RHP Paolo Espino (0-1, 8.31)

GAME 2: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7:05pm @ Akron
Trenton LHP Shaeffer Hall (0-0, 0.00) vs. Akron RHP Danny Salazar (0-0, 3.38)

GAME 3: Friday, Sept. 14 @ 7:05pm @ Trenton
Akron RHP Carlos Carrasco (1 inning rehab) (0-0, 0.00) / LHP TJ House (0-0, 7.20) vs. Trenton RHP Mikey O’Brien (0-0, 1.80)

GAME 4: Saturday, Sept. 15 @ 7:05pm @ Trenton (IF NECESSARY)
Akron RHP Toru Murata (0-0, 1.50) vs. Trenton LHP Nik Turley (1-0, 5.40)

GAME 5: Sunday, Sept. 16 @ 4:05pm @ Trenton (IF NECESSARY)
Akron RHP Brett Brach (1-0, 2.70) vs. TBD Trenton

Analysis: Game 1 features each team’s best starter, naturally. Paolo Espino was 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA this season, while Brett Marshall was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year runner-up and is likely looking for another chance at a postseason start following getting the loss in the first game against Reading. Shaeffer Hall was aces in relief of David Aardsma in Game 2, but Game 3 could be bit of a crapshoot. The Aeros have a rehabbing big leaguer of their own in Carlos Carrasco, and he’s slated to pitch one inning on Friday before giving way to T.J. House. House will be opposed by Mikey O’Brien, who turned in quite the effort on Saturday against the Phillies. Turley struggled with command at times in Game 4, and it’s likely that given the travel day, Marshall would pitch a potential Game 5 on Sunday.

BULLPEN

Projected Akron Bullpen:

R, Bryce Stowell (1-0, 5.40)
R, Hector Rondon (0-0, 0.00)
R, Jose Flores (DNP)
R, Preston Guilmet (0-0, 0.00, 2 SV)
R, Rob Bryson (0-0, 0.00)
R, Shawn Armstrong (0-1, 0.00)
R, Trey Haley (1-0, 0.00)

Projected Trenton Bullpen
:

R, David Aardsma (0-0, 9.00)
R, Craig Heyer (DNP)
L, Lee Hyde (1-0, 0.00)
R, Tom Kahnle (0-0, 0.00)
R, Mark Montgomery (0-0, 0.00, 1 SV)
R, Zach Nuding (DNP)
R, Branden Pinder (1-0, 0.00)
R, Ryan Pope (0-0, 0.00, 2 SV)
L, Josh Romanski (DNP)
R, Graham Stoneburner (0-0, 0.00)

Analysis: Both bullpens were really good in their respective series. The Thunder certainly have more options, with ten men available to them. But if Mark Montgomery and Ryan Pope can be a formidable and perhaps more importantly re-usable eighth and ninth inning tandem, that could prove lethal to the Aeros late in games. The Aeros, however, have Preston Guilmet at their disposal. Guilmet collected 24 saves this year, and was named as the closer on the Eastern League Postseason All-Star Team.

Thunder Thoughts: So, this is where I make the prediction that goes wrong, correct? I mean, back in 2010 I picked the Thunder to lose in the first round and they won. Then, I picked them to win in the finals and they didn’t. Fast forward to this year, and I had them losing in four games to Reading. Not so much.

So, to be clear, the opposite of what I say will happen is going to happen. Know this going in, OK? But first, let’s look at how the teams played against each other head-to-head in the regular season…

At Akron (April 12-15) 4 games (Trenton lost 3 of 4)
At Trenton (May 21-24) 4 games (Each team won two)
At Akron (August 23-26) 4 Games (Trenton won 3 of 4)

In a total of 12 games, each team won six. In eight games played in Akron (April 12-15 and August 23-26), each team won four as Akron won three of four in the first series, while the Thunder flipped the script in the second series, winning three of four. In the only series in Trenton, the Thunder and the Aeros each won two games.

Akron hit .249 with 7 home runs 36 RBI and 38 runs scored (3.2 runs per game)

Trenton hit .229 with 8 home runs, 31 RBI and 34 runs scored (2.8 runs per game)

Akron pitchers sported a 2.72 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched

Trenton posted a 3.03 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 104 innings

So, prediction time…I’m taking the Thunder in 5. I think the Aeros have the deeper team in term of position players, but the Thunder’s lineup is better, and I think you could put their starting rotation up against anyone. However, Akron didn’t have the best record in the league for nothing, and they’re sure to put up quite a fight. I debated between four or five games in my prediction and ultimately went with five…but I do think the Thunder win their third Eastern League title.

8 Responses to “Previewing The 2012 Eastern League Championship Series”

  1. louie Says:

    Have you seen any weather reports for Akron,could there be any rain issues before coming home.

  2. Art Vandelay Says:

    Isn’t there an important Somerset game you should be covering instead?

  3. Peter Lacock Says:

    I have great respect for Tony Franklin and I think he’ll have the guys ready.
    I can see Marshall stepping up (I keep waiting for it) and setting the pace. Hall is underrated and I think O’Brien will follow suit.
    I’m taking Trenton in a sweep behind strong pitching.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    good call a sweep wow

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