(GAME DATE – Sep. 30, 2019) — The 2012 expansion Arizona Cowboys, who failed to finish better that 4th place or hold a win percentage better than .440 in their first 7 seasons, have achieved a wild card entry into the 2019 playoffs after a 92-70 (.568) 2nd place finish this year.
They will square off against the Seattle Salts, who are making their 10th playoff appearance since 1995, and have not won the Bull Cup during the modern era.
The Cowboys achievement is all the more impressive considering their very soft starting rotation, consisting of a bevy of 4+ ERA starters. The team’s average starter ERA was 4.95, a trio of points above the ML average ERA. They mainly won games through their power-filled core of the 2-3-4 in the batting order: Joe Kueppers (.257, 48 HR, 136 RBI), Tak-keung Yang (.266, 60 HR, 146 RBI), and Cody Martin (.273, 35 HR, 91 RBI).
Leadoff man Alexis Rosa was very much a prize piece as well, leading the team’s hitting with a .302 average, and collecting 68 stolen bases. Only the St. Pete’s Admirals Katai Kitagawahad more steals, at 78.
Division rivals, and pennant winners, the Seattle Salts, ended the season 93-69, just a game ahead of the Cowboys. Led by lefty ace Adam Price, who went 13-8 with a 4.03 ERA on the season, they had the benefit of big seasons from Seattle stalwarts like 41-year-old veteran Jesse Nelson, 2B Jorge Garzes, RF Bill Covy and DH Hoshi Mizuguchi. These four horsemen of the Seattle apocalypse all had 28 or more home runs, and 82 or more RBIs, with averages at .270 or above.
Another impressive bat could return for the Bull Cup Championships, should the Salts make it that far. LF Ryan Vallis has been on the mend since a torn thumb ligament sidelined him on September 14. He was batting .265 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs in 88 games.
Arizona’s Ivan Morillo (15-10, 4.95 ERA) will get the start against Salts veteran Tony Maldonado (1-5, 8.29), who was called up on August 30 from AAA-level Portland, where he was 10-7 with a 4.35 ERA.