Brooklyn Cyclones (49-25) vs. Staten Island (47-28)
(Best-of-3 series begins Sunday, Sep. 9)
Ladies and gents, hop aboard the train because the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones face off on Sunday night with their version of the subway series. It's the second straight year the clubs will clash in the first round of the New York-Penn League Playoffs, with Staten Island sweeping Brooklyn in two games last year.
Staten Island has been the gold standard in the New York-Penn League, winning four championships since 1999, including the last two. Every time the Baby Bombers have appeared in the postseason, the end result has been a league title. The Cyclones are making just their third playoff appearance since 2001, but the last time they played extra baseball under current manager Edgar Alfonzo, they won the whole thing.
This matchup is about as even as you can get. The teams battled all season long, splitting the season series 7-7, and only 1 1/2 games separated them in the standings. Brooklyn ranks first in pitching and Staten Island is right behind them at second. The Baby Bombers are second in hitting with Brooklyn placing fourth. Let's take a closer look at the two clubs:
The Yankees and the Cyclones played against each other 14 times and, wouldn't you know, the two clubs split the series with seven wins each. The games were close, as eight of the 14 contests were decided by three runs or fewer and Brooklyn edged the Baby Bombers in runs scored, 50-48.
The teams met as recently as Sept. 4, when they played the finale of a five-game series, which Staten Island won, three games to two. Pitching was the story while hitting took a back seat. In three of the five contests, the losing team team failed to score a single run.
Brooklyn: IF J.R. Voyles was the most successful Cyclone hitter against Staten Island. In 14 games, Voyles hit .300 and led the team in hits (15) and RBIs (7). ... SS Matt Bouchard was also effective, batting .333 and stealing two bases, although he struck out six times in 12 games. ... C/1B Jason Jacobs had six RBIs and one home run while hitting .270 in his 37 at-bats. ... Dylan Owen absolutely owned the Yankees in his three appearances (two starts). The righty was 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings. ... Dillon Gee allowed just two runs in his lone start against Staten Island. ... Southpaw Michael Antonini did not allow a run in his 5 1/3 innings of work in two games. He allowed just four hits and one walk.
Staten Island: 2B Damon Sublett led all current Yankee hitters with a .344 batting average and eight RBIs in nine games against the Cyclones. ... OF Justin Snyder had a ridiculous .526 on-base percentage with 15 walks and 13 hits in just 13 games. ... Jose Gil managed to drive in seven runs, second most on the team, despite hitting an abysmal .128. ... Chris Farley was good in his lone start, allowing one run over four innings while striking out seven. ... Zach McAllister struggled against the Cyclones, going 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA. He allowed 23 hits and 12 earned runs in 18 1/3 innings. ... Ryan Pope tossed a solid game in his one start, giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings. ... Jonathan Ortiz blew one of his two saves on the season against Brooklyn, but also managed to convert his other two save opportunities.
Game 1: Brooklyn at Staten Island
Nick Carr (5-2, 3.80 ERA) vs. Zach McAllister (4-5, 4.52 ERA)
Game 2: Staten Island at Brooklyn
Adam Olbrychowski (3-5, 4.47 ERA) vs. Dylan Owen (9-1, 1.49 ERA)
Game 3: Staten Island at Brooklyn (if necessary)
Ryan Pope (3-0, 2.49 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.47 ERA)
ON THE MOUND
Brooklyn's pitching was absolutely dominant. The Cyclones staff led the league in just about every single pitching category including -- an astounding 2.91 ERA, an impressive 10 shutouts in just 73 games and the fewest hits (511) allowed. ... Dylan Owen was not only the staff ace but probably the best pitcher in the league. Owen went 9-1 with a 1.49 ERA, both of which -- the wins and the ERA -- ranked first in the league. Over 72 1/3 innings, the righty issued just 12 walks and fanned 69 batters. ... After Owen it's just slightly less spectacular. Dillon Gee finished with the fifth best ERA (2.47) on the circuit. Gee only walked nine hitters in 62 innings. ... Nick Waechter went 5-4 with a 3.88 ERA, and was one of two pitchers in the league to toss a shutout. ... Nick Carr compiled a 5-2 record and a 3.80 ERA. His 74 strikeouts tied for third in the New York-Penn League.
Staten Island's pitching was right behind Brooklyn all season. Yankees hurlers ranked second in ERA (3.42), shutouts (5) and strikeouts (599) -- certainly nothing to frown upon. Ryan Pope may have been the club's best and most consistent starter. The righty went 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 10 starts while striking out 46 batters in 43 1/3 innings. ... Zach McAllister was very effective when he was on. At times he struggled with his command, but McAllister tied for third in the league in strikeouts with 73. His final line was 4-5 with a 4.52 ERA. ... Closer Jonathan Ortiz was 13-for-15 in save opportunities with the Yankees. The righty had 39 punchouts in 25 innings.
AT THE PLATE
Brooklyn's offense was consistent this year, supplying a steady dose of runs for their pitchers. The Cyclones batting average ranked fourth in the league. 1B/OF Lucas Duda led the team with a .299 batting average, and tied for third in the league in doubles with 20. ... C/1B Jason Jacobs anchored the lineup with his power. Jacobs led all Cyclones hitters with 46 RBIs and hit a respectable .273. His 12 home runs ranked first on the circuit, making Jacobs one of the league's premier sluggers. ... 2B Micah Schilling has a knack for getting on base. Schilling hit .283, but had an on-base percentage of .427, which put him third in the league. He also finished tied for fourth in runs scored with 49.
Staten Island's offense won't blow opponents away, but they get on base and manufacture runs. The Baby Bombers had three players ranked in the top 10 in both on-base percentage and batting average. As a team, they finished second in the league in batting average (.268) and walks (283) while leading the circuit with the fewest strikeouts (497). IF Justin Snyder may be the toughest out in the New York-Penn League. Snyder led the league in hits (87), runs scored (68) and on-base percentage (.459). His .335 batting average was tied for fourth on the circuit and his 40 RBIs were second on the club. ... 2B Damon Sublett has that rare combination of power and average. His .326 batting average ranked sixth in the league while his 53 RBIs led all New York-Penn League hitters. Sublett's eight home runs was best on the Yankees. ... 3B Braedyn Pruitt had the best average (.347) on the team, which ranked second in the league.
Brooklyn and Staten Island have been two of the most successful teams in recent years in the New York-Penn League. The Yankees seem to follow in the footsteps of their Major League parent club. Since entering the league in 1999, the Yankees have won four championships, including the last two. In fact, every time Staten Island has been in the playoffs, the result has been a league title. The Cyclones won a championship in their first year in the league in 2001, but since then have only been to the postseason once, falling to the Yankees last year in two straight games. However, Brooklyn's manager this year is Edgar Alfonzo, the same skipper that guided the Cyclones to glory in 2001.
SERIES COULD TURN ON
Brooklyn's defense has been superb all season long, committing just 64 errors compared to Staten Island's 84. The Yankees have to cut down on those mistakes because a team like the Cyclones will take advantage. Brooklyn can't afford to let their defense lapse either, as it's one of the reasons their pitching has been dominant. ... Which Staten Island starter will take the mound each day? The Yankees have used several starters this season as only three pitchers have started in double-digit games. The Baby Bombers need those good, long outings from their starters or else this series could go in Brooklyn's direction.
This is an extremely tough series to call. Both teams can pitch and hit. They had the two best records in the league with only 1 1/2 games separating the clubs in the standings. They even split the season series. Staten Island really turned it on in the second half, but Brooklyn was a consistently great team all year long. The Baby Bombers are two-time defending champions, but manager Edgar Alfonzo guided the Cyclones to a championship in 2001. Brooklyn's pitching is a smidgen deeper and better. Cyclones in three.