(GAME DATE — Oct. 2, 2020) — The Bull Baseball League playoffs begin today with the LL and ML Elimination Round. For one lucky team, destiny is not far away.
Soon one of the playoff teams will win the Bull Cup and be honored as the best of the best. In due time, they can have their parade, hoist up that championship banner and drink the champagne. It will be the crowning glory of the 2020 season.
Here are the clubs that will be in action today:
- Chicago Pit Bulls versus Boston Brawlers
- Toronto Nomads versus Minneapolis Ravens
- California Tidals versus St. Petersburg Admirals
- Nevada Speeders versus Arizona Cowboys
CHICAGO vs. BOSTON
Chicago led all Bull League teams in runs scored, with 1,070 — but were dead last in the LL in runs against. This will be a battle for the Pit Bulls to outscore Boston, and if the Brawlers can manage to keep the Pit Bulls off the base paths they will persevere.
A key will be neutralizing the big Chicago bats, like Jon Guillot, John Rambo and Mike Strang. Boston has managed to hold those four to just 4 HRs and 15 hits over 6 games, and have pitched a succession of shutout innings against the black and whites.
Boston’s 4-2 season record over Chicago seems to favor them, but there is just no guarantee that Chicago will follow Boston’s plan. They were heating up immensely in September, and went 19-8 (.704) in the last month of the season, topping the LL.
TORONTO vs. MINNEAPOLIS
The Minneapolis Ravens are heavily favored, and just picked up an experienced GM in time for the postseason. The Ravens were second in run production, second in home runs, and had the top OPS of all LL teams. Their team ERA was the 4th lowest in the LL, and they struck out the second most batters in the league. They can hit and pitch, which makes them dangerous, and puts them as a favorite to repeat a Bull Cup appearance.
But Toronto is not completely written off. They have a fantastic top 4 in the rotation, with Knuckles Malone earning a second 20-win season in a row, and Alex Medina putting in solid appearances at the end of the season. The Nomads were just behind the Ravens in shutouts, with 11 (to the Ravens 12), and gave up the fewest home runs. Their 54.4% groundball percentage topped the LL and they complement that with one of the best defensive infields in the league.
Toronto may not have been an offensive powerhouse this year, but they earned runs the old fashioned way, with the smallball game. It seemed to work for them. The Nomads were second in sacrifice hits, third in steals, and fourth in doubles, despite ranking nearly last in most every other offensive stat.
The scale tips in the Ravens favor, but Toronto could battle them off for a series win if their pitching pulls through.
CALIFORNIA vs. ST. PETERSBURG
The defending Bull Cup champs, St. Petersburg, have every intention of repeating a championship and they don’t plan on letting California interfere with this goal. The Tidals squeaked by into the 2nd wild card, but could pull off a surprise upset. They went 3-3 during the season against the St. Pete’s Admirals, and had two batters get 3 HR’s each in those six games.
But St. Pete’s has the better pitching and defense on their side, and are just as deadly on the road as they are at home, having won just as many in both the home/road split, going 48-33 both ways.
If all goes well, the Admirals’ second best pitcher, Young-lau Weng, should get two starts if needed, which weighs heavily in their favor. Weng went 18-9 during the season overall, and Harry Ferguson was 1-0 with a 2.02 ERA in games against the Tidals.
NEVADA vs. ARIZONA
The Nevada Speeders will take another postseason run, after being swept out of the Elimination Round last season by the Admirals. They could have a tough time against Arizona, however. The two clubs were nearly even during their season series, with a slight 12-11 advantage for the Nevada Speeders. But Arizona was the top-scoring team in the ML, with 988 runs, and Nevada ranked 3rd with 919.
Should it come to a battle of pitching, the Speeders edge the Cowboys, particularly Jim Koch, and close Nate Kremer. But Sandy Koufax Award contender Al Mota was injured at the tail end of September, and will miss the postseason.
Of all the series, this should be the closest and most interesting to watch, as Nevada will try to deny Arizona another shot at the MLCS.