Monday, August 17, 2015

Astros MiLB Playoff Picture

As the Astros minor league regular season winds down, let's check in with the various teams and their chances for post-season play.

FRESNO GRIZZLIES - Current record: 73-48 1st place

The first place Grizzlies have a comfortable lead in the PCL Pacific Northern Division. With 22 games left in their season, they have a 14.5 game lead over their closest rivals, the second place Sacramento River Cats, a Giants affiliate. The River Cats have won seven in a row, but the Grizzlies have mostly kept pace by winning six in a row and the Cats elimination number has dwindled to nine.

The Week Ahead: Of Fresno's remaining 22 games, they play zero versus division rivals. This week, they will play two more versus New Orleans at home (Fresno is up 2-0 in the series) and four against Round Rock (also at home) before an off day on Sunday. It will be the first time this season that the Grizzlies have faced Round Rock.

CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS - Overall record: 76-44 1st place; Second half: 28-22 2nd place

The Hooks are already assured of a playoff berth because, unlike the PCL, the team that wins the first half of the season (the Hooks) automatically makes the playoffs. The Hooks are in first place overall in the Texas League South for the season, but they trail Midland (an Oakland affiliate) by six game in the second half. The magic number for Midland to eliminate the Hooks as second half champions is 15.

The Week Ahead: The Hooks have an off day today as they recover from an overnight 14-hour bus ride back from Northwest Arkansas. They will repeat the just completed 3-game series against Arkansas (Angels affiliate) and Northwest Arkansas (Royals affiliate), playing them at home this time, starting Tuesday. The Hooks prevailed over both teams 2-1 on the road trip and lead the season series against both teams as well.

LANCASTER JETHAWKS - Overall record: 60-59 3rd place; Second half: 23-26 4th place (2nd place in the Wild Card Standings)

As always seems to be the case with the California League South, there are several teams vying for the playoffs, and with the addition of a wild card to the mix, there are more ways to get there. The only team in the South Division that is currently assured a playoff berth is Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers affiliate) who advanced to the playoffs by virtue of winning the first half. High Desert currently leads the wild card standings with Lancaster 4.5 games back; and the second half standings with Rancho Cucamonga 1.5 games behind, Inland Empire 4.0 games back and Lancaster 4.5 games back. (Lake Elsinore trails significantly in both the wild card and second half.) The "easiest" path to the playoffs is currently as a wild card.

The Week Ahead: The JetHawks are currently in the middle of a 20-game stretch with no off days. After traveling home from San Jose last night, they will host Inland Empire for three starting today, followed by four in Lake Elsinore. The 'Hawks are 9-9 vs. Inland Empire (58-60) for the season series and 8-6 against Lake Elsinore (43-76). Inland is currently on a three-game losing streak and Lake Elsinore has dropped six in a row.

QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS - Overall record: 75-42 1st place; Second half: 30-19 3rd place

Much like the Hooks, the River Bandits are assured of a playoff berth by virtue of winning the Western Division for the first half. But unlike the Texas League, there are actually eight teams that advance to the playoffs in the Midwest League. And the River Bandits already know who they will be facing in the Semi-Finals as they take on Cedar Rapids (the second place finisher in the Western Division in the first half) in a best of three. Quad Cities is currently six games behind Kane County and one game behind Peoria in the second half and will face Kane County six more times and Peoria three more times in the remaining 21 games.

The Week Ahead: All of the Banditos remaining games are against division rivals. After an off day on Monday, they will host Wisconsin (40-78) for three and then head to Kane County (72-45) for three. Quad Cities leads the season series against those two teams 11-1 and 7-5 respectively.

TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS - Record: 30-25 1st place

The ValleyCats lead the Lowell Spinners (Boston affiliate) by only a half game in the Stedler Division. In the New York-Penn League, the three Division leaders and one wild card team (the team having the best record that is not a division winner) all advance to the playoffs so Tri-City has a second way into the playoffs in the event that their tenuous lead over Lowell falters. The ValleyCats have no further head-to-head games against Lowell in the regular season.

The Week Ahead: The 'Cats have Monday and Tuesday off for the All-Star break before heading to Vermont (25-30) for two games. They will then host Hudson Valley (27-28) for two games on Friday and Saturday and play one vs. Hudson Valley on the road on Sunday. Tri-City leads the season series against each of these teams, 4-2 and 2-1 respectively.

GREENEVILLE ASTROS - Record: 26-26 3rd place

The Appy Astros are currently in third place in the Western Division, two games behind co-leaders Elizabethton and Kingsport. The first and second place teams in each division advance to the playoffs. Of the 15 games remaining on their schedule, the Astros will face Elizabethton three times and Kingsport once. Their elimination number is 14.

The Week Ahead: Greeneville lost the first game of a three-game series against Johnson City (23-27) on Sunday; the Astros are 3-4 on the season against the Cardinals affiliate. After a day off on Wednesday, the Astros will head to play East Division Danville (26-27) for three games; the Appy Astros were 2-1 against the Braves affiliate in their only meeting this season. Greeneville will then host Elizabethton for three starting Sunday. Only four games separate the first place teams from the last place team so these standings could change a lot by the time Greeneville meets first place Elizabethton seven days hence.

GULF COAST LEAGUE ASTROS - Record: 17-30 4th place

With the GCL Astros 12 games behind the leader and an elimination number of 4 with only 13 games remaining, it will take nothing short of a miracle for the Baby 'Stros to pull out a playoff appearance.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE ASTROS BLUE TEAM - Record: 40-26 1st place

The Blue Team is leading the Indians in the Boca Chica Northwest Division by three games, and the Phillies and Rays by four games, with only six games left to play, two each vs. the Phillies and Rays and none against the Indians. The Indians also play four of their six against the Phillies and Rays. With a couple of wins, the Blue Team can almost guarantee a playoff appearance, but in the DSL, anything can happen! The playoff procedures are not available on MiLB.com.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE ASTROS ORANGE TEAM - Record: 26-40 5th place

The Orange Team has been eliminated from playoff contention.

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