The Chicago Pit Bulls moved out of the American Eagle League starting with the 2012 season, and former AEL East rivals, Nevada Speeders, were moved to the AEL West at the same time, and have not yet made a playoff since then.
As a result, the two teams have not played against each other in over six seasons, but had frequently tussled for first place in their former division back then.
The two clubs will get a chance to spark up the old rivalry when they face off in their interleague match-up beginning tonight. Chicago will host Nevada for two games, before taking to the road and visiting the Speeders for two, wrapping up the four-game home-and-home series just before the All-Star break.
This year, the odds look decidedly in Nevada’s favor, as they are on top of their current division, the AEL West, at 32-20, the best record in the Bull League as of this writing. The Pit Bulls are on the opposite end of the winning spectrum, and are on track to have their worst year ever. They could even set a Lake League record for losses, if their current win-percentage stays where it is.
However, don’t count the Pit Bulls out just yet. Left fielder Mike Strang is having a career year in terms of run production and power, rookie third baseman David Herbst has been wielding a hot bat, hitting .313 with an OPS of .857, and utility player Jon Guillot has really stepped up, driving in a team-leading 23 runs despite the club’s struggles with run production.
The Speeders are looking solid, but are facing a growing pile of injuries, and a bullpen that looks weak in the middle reliever area.
The next four games between the clubs will mean nothing at all to Chicago, who are if not mathematically then at least effectively out of the playoff race this year. But for Nevada, a lot rests on getting every win they can as the Seattle Salts nip at their heels from 2½ games behind in the division.
The Salts may not be on easy street, as they will run into Lake League juggernauts, the Minneapolis Ravens, for their interleague games. But the Speeders will not want to drop any games at all to Chicago if they can help it.
When the two clubs were in the same division, from 1995 to 2012, they often took turns as the division pennant winner, with Chicago taking the pennant in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2011, and Nevada winning in 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
The Pit Bulls will start RHP Bret Gilbert (3-9, 4.91) against the Speeders’ RHP Troy Catley (4-2, 4.50) tonight at 8:05 pm EDT, in Chicago.