Monday, August 24, 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: 78-49 1st place

The first place Grizzlies went 5-1 for the week to further solidify their lead in the PCL Pacific Northern Division. With 16 games left in their season, they have a 14 game lead over their closest rivals, the second place Sacramento River Cats, a Giants affiliate. The River Cats have only managed to pick up a half game in the standings and their elimination number is now down to three.

If/when the Grizzlies clinch the Pacific Northern Division, they will host Games 1 and 2 of the Pacific Conference best-of-five playoffs on September 9th and 10th against either the the Las Vegas 51s (Mets) or the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres). The 51s are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Chihuahuas.

The Week Ahead: None of Fresno's remaining 16 games are against division rivals. This week, they will play eight games in the Midwest, four in Iowa (with a double-header scheduled for Tuesday) and four in Omaha. It will be the first time this season that Fresno has faced Iowa (Cubs) and Omaha (Royals). Iowa is 70-57 for the season and Omaha is 71-58.

CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS - Overall record: 76-44 1st place; Second half: 31-25 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 eight games in the second half. The magic number for Midland to eliminate the Hooks as second half champions is seven with 14 games left to play. The Frisco team is holding on by a fingernail with an elimination number of three and the Missions have already been eliminated.

The first two games of the best-of-five South Division playoffs will take place in Corpus Christi on September 9th and 10th and Midland will be their opponent if/when they win the second half crown.

The Week Ahead: The Hooks have an off day today as they travel to Midland for four games starting Tuesday for a presumed preview of the Division playoffs. Corpus is 16-12 against the RockHounds this season, but the 'Hounds are currently on a 5-game win streak. The Hooks will return on Saturday to host San Antonio for three; the Hooks own that season series 14-8.

LANCASTER JETHAWKS - Overall record: 66-60 3rd place; Second half: 29-27 T2nd place (2nd place in the Wild Card Standings)

Lancaster always makes things interesting. A much needed 6-1 record over the last week took the team from fourth place in the second half to a tie for second place in the second half, four games back. Lancaster and Rancho Cucamonga each have an elimination number of 11 as High Desert attempts to take the second half title. Lancaster does still have a shot at the second half title, but alternatively should be able to capture the wild card as Inland Empire has quickly faded into the sunset, having gone 1-10 in their last 11 games. Lake Elsinore has now been eliminated.

The best-of-three Mini-Series between the Second Half Division Champion and the Wild Card winner will take place September 9th through 11th. Lancaster and High Desert will, in all likelihood, be the two teams facing off in the Mini-Series, but in which capacity is still to be determined.

The Week Ahead: The JetHawks are still grinding through 20 games in 20 days, but they get to sleep in their own beds this week with no commuters. They will host Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers) for four games and Lake Elsinore (Padres) for three games; the JetHawks lead those season series 10-7 and 11-7 respectively.

QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS - Overall record: 79-44 1st place; Second half: 34-21 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. Game 1 will take place on September 9th in Cedar Rapids with Games 2 and 3 in Quad Cities the following two nights.

After going 4-2 for the last week, Quad Cities did gain two games on Kane County in the second half standings. They are currently four games behind Kane County and one game behind Peoria in the second half and will face each of those teams three more times in the remaining 15 games.

The Week Ahead: The Banditos are home for six games, three versus Clinton starting tonight and three against Peoria starting Thursday before heading to Burlington on Sunday. Quad Cities is 9-5 against Clinton for the season, 10-4 against Peoria, and 9-8 against Burlington.

TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS - Record: 33-27 1st place

The ValleyCats extended their lead over the second place Lowell Spinners (Boston affiliate) in the Stedler Division to three and a half games as Lowell has been mired in a 6-game losing streak while the 'Cats went 3-2 in their short week following the All-Star break. The Connecticut Tigers are statistically a fraction behind Lowell but also trail Tri-City by three and a half games with Vermont bringing up the rear, six and a half games back. 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 lead falters. There are 15 games remaining in their season.

The Week Ahead: The 'Cats host Connecticut for three games starting Monday, then head to Vermont for three starting on Thursday. They will return on Sunday to host Brooklyn. Tri-City is 2-4 against Connecticut, 6-2 against Vermont and 1-2 against Brooklyn this season.

GREENEVILLE ASTROS - Record: 29-29 3rd place

The Appy Astros were 3-3 for the week and are currently in third place in the Western Division, three games behind Kingsport and two games behind Elizabethton. The first and second place teams in each division advance to the playoffs. The Astros lost their first game of three against Elizabethton on Sunday and with only one more head-to-head meeting versus Kingsport in the remaining nine games, the Astros chances to claim a playoff spot are dwindling if they don't make a move soon. Their elimination number is now at eight.

The Week Ahead: Greeneville lost the first game of a three-game series at home against Elizabethton on Sunday; they have the season advantage against that team four games to three. The Astros will host Kingsport for a day game on Wednesday before hitting the road to Burlington on Thursday for a three-game series. The season series with Kingsport is tied 5-5 and the Appy Astros trail Burlington 1-2 for the season. Sunday finds the 'Stros back in Greeneville and hosting Princeton against whom they went 1-2 in their prior meeting.

GULF COAST LEAGUE ASTROS - Record: 19-35 4th place

The GCL team has been officially eliminated from contention and has only six games remaining in their season.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE ASTROS BLUE TEAM - Record: 43-29 1st place

The Blue Team won the Boca Chica Northwest Division and they will start their postseason play today in a best-of-three series against the DSL Blue Jays. The Blue Jays won the Boca Chica Baseball City Division with a 45-27 record.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE ASTROS ORANGE TEAM - Record: 28-44 5th place

The Orange Team has been eliminated from playoff contention and their season is over.

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