The 2017 Bull League Postseason is set to kick off tonight with the Lake League starting its two Elimination Round quarterfinal series.
The LL’s top seeded team, the Ohio Oxen (60-40), will take on the 4th seeded wild card Rimouski Fighting Moose (54-46) in Toledo, Ohio, while the LL East’s pennant winning Montreal Metros (59-41) take on their division rivals, wild card Boston Brawlers (56-44).
Boston was also a wild card playoff entry last season, and beat the Montreal Metros in the LL Elimination Round, taking the series to the 5th and final game. The Brawlers are hoping for a similar performance this season. They lead the Metros 8-6 in regular season play, including a series sweep in August.
Montreal is entering the playoffs without their top starter, Judson Martel, who set a new ERA record this season of 1.36. Martel was placed on the DL on August 8 with a torn elbow ligament and is not expected to return until next year, possibly as late as the beginning of the regular season.
Boston is only missing one regular from their lineup, catcher Guido Groeneveld, who has been out since the first week of the season back in May with torn ankle ligaments. In August it was announced that his planned return was setback another 7 weeks. He was replaced in the lineup mainly by Nick Charles, who hit .209 through 80 games, but performed well against the Metros, with a slash line of .283/.309/.415.
The season story between Ohio and Rimouski was similar, with the Oxen taking 8 of 14 games between the two teams, and being relatively injury-free, missing only starter Skeeter Heater, who was 4-5 on the season, with a forgettable 5.32 ERA, and 2B Rod Cubit, who offered some decent hitting and speed, but who plays from a bench role anyway when Justin Good is healthy.
Good isn’t currently healthy, having suffered a herniated disc for the second time this season, but he is expected to return after the first game of the series with Rimouski. With both 2B-men out Alec Tricity (.253/.339/.333 in 27 games) will get the start.
The Fighting Moose have a litany of injuries plaguing their lineup, starting with former Ohio Oxen center fielder Hugo Gonzales, who is day-to-day but played in the final series of the season against New York, 2B Rogelio Berreras (strained triceps), RF Trevor McLeish (shoulder tendinitis), and Masamune Yamada (dislocated shoulder). However, the team has all their pitchers available, including Nick Seer, who was 10-6 with a 2.53 ERA, one of the league’s better curveball pitchers, and Andrew Ward, who was 11-7 with a 3.31 ERA
They are joined by Mo-ruo Chen, whose curveball is a match for Seer’s, and who went 8-6 with a 2.68 ERA over 111 IP, and John Halfyard, who was 5-2 and 3.57.
Ohio will offer Heath Smokem (5-12, 4.42), A.C. Deucey (14-2, 2.25) and Sandy Koufax Award contender Frasor Clause (15-2, 2.81), along with Rusty Rowe (9-6, 4.00).