Southern League Playoff Preview: Generals face Montgomery in 2018 North Division Series #GenerationDBacks

Pam Dietz Jon Duplantier
Jon Duplantier (Photo credit: Pam Dietz)

JACKSON, Tenn The Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will meet the Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A, Tampa Bay Rays) in the Southern League’s North Division Series starting on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. The Generals will host Game 1 on Wednesday and Game 2 on Thursday at The Ballpark at Jackson, with each scheduled for at 6:05 pm CT first pitch. Games 3, 4, and 5 will all be played at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. The series will be a best-of-five format. TICKETS>>

SEASON SERIES RECAP

Meetings between Jackson and Montgomery: 20

Season series record (in games): Montgomery 11, Jackson 9; Generals 5-5 at home, 4-6 on the road

Aggregate run totals: Montgomery 92, Jackson 87

 

BEST GENERALS AGAINST MONTGOMERY

Kevin Medrano: .308 batting average (16-for-52)

Marty Herum: .405 batting average (15-for-37)

Jay Gonzalez: .310 batting average (9-for-29)

Ben DeLuzio: .348 batting average (8-for-23)

Kevin Ginkel: 7.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, .222 BAA

Jon Duplantier: 9.2 IP, 2.79 ERA, .282 BAA

Bo Takahashi: 9.2 IP, 3.72 ERA, .176 BAA

 

BEST BISCUITS AGAINST JACKSON

Thomas Milone: .313 batting average (15-for-48)

Nick Solak: .320 batting average (24-for-75)

Curtis Taylor: 10.0 IP, 0.90 ERA, .152 BAA

Travis Ott: 10.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, .162 BAA

Benton Moss: 16.0 IP, 1.69 ERA, .246 BAA

Yoel Espinal: 7.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, .120 BAA

Brock Burke: 7.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, .200 BAA

 

STORYLINES

*Can the Generals score enough? – – Jackson averaged less than three runs per game in August, their lowest monthly total in 2018. They have to get production from bats other than Marty Herum’s (.361 BA in August) and Kevin Medrano’s (.310 BA in August), and they must be able to stay afloat against left-handed pitching. Jackson’s batting average against southpaws (.248) is 19 points worse than their mark against righties, and it’s generally harder to steal bases against left-handers as well, making Travis Ott and Brock Burke two of the foremost threats to the Generals’ playoff lives.

 

*Prospect pitching will be a critical balancing point. – – Though the rotations aren’t set, you’d have to imagine that Jackson will turn to No. 3 Arizona prospect Taylor Widener and No. 1 prospect Jon Duplantier in at least two of their first three North Division Series games. Recently, Widener and Duplantier have not been as effective as usual: In their past 18 1/3 innings pitched combined, they have struck out 28 batters (13.7 K/9) while also allowing 11 earned runs (5.40 ERA).  In a winner-take-all series, a short start by either one could put a heavy tax on a Generals bullpen that has been fantastic over the last month. Closers Yoan Lopez (0.63 ERA in August) and Kevin Ginkel (0.00 ERA in August) have been lights-out good, but Lopez, Arizona’s No. 18 prospect, was called up today to help out a Diamondbacks bullpen that allowed two late leads to slip away over the weekend in Los Angeles. The departure of Lopez leaves an important three-out hole in the late-inning plans for Jackson, one that manager Shelley Duncan and pitching coach Doug Drabek will have to creatively fill.

 

*Don’t procrastinate – win early, at home. – – This might be the strangest statistic in the Southern League this year: of the four playoff teams (Jackson, Montgomery, Biloxi, and Pensacola), the Montgomery Biscuits are the only squad with a sub-.500 home record (34-36). They’ve gone 18-17 at home in the Second Half, but the Biscuits’ offense somehow hits a head-scratching 41 points lower at Riverwalk Stadium (.236 BA) than at all the other parks in the league combined (.277 BA). Their ERA is also 19 points higher at home, meaning the Generals’ best chance to win the series is to force Montgomery into 2-0 hole before the series pivots to Alabama’s capital city on Friday. The Biscuits have won three consecutive games in their home ballpark only once this season, though it did happen within the last two weeks (against Tennessee, 8/24-8/26). “Hold serve at home” is one of the oldest maxims in coaching, but in this particular case, it’s exceedingly against the odds that the Generals lose three games in a row at Montgomery if they take the first two.

 

We should clarify a point of confusion here: the five-game series that Jackson dropped to Montgomery in late July/early August was not played as the statistics would have you believe. On paper, it appears that Jackson lost the series by losing the final three games at Riverwalk Stadium. In reality, the fifth game was suspended in a 0-0 second inning tie due to weather on August 1, and it was completed two weeks later at…yes, you guessed it, The Ballpark at Jackson. Playing the final eight innings of the series on the road, the Biscuits beat the Generals 4-0 to take the set. If the Generals can put the Biscuits away in West Tennessee at least once, they make the path to a Southern League Championship Series berth significantly easier to achieve. (Listen: if you wanted rocket science, you skipped over the Discovery Channel a few clicks back.)

 

What do you think about the Generals’ playoff chances? Tweet at the team (@JacksonGenerals) with the hashtag #SLPlayoffs and let us know!

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