Tuesday, September 04, 2007

9/4 Links

Brevard County @ St. Lucie - Game 1

Here is a preview of the St. Lucie playoff series:


St. Lucie vs. Brevard County
St. Lucie Mets (68-71) vs. Brevard County Manatees (74-62)
(Best-of-3 series begins Tuesday, Sept. 4)

The Mets won it all in 2006, marking the second time in the past four seasons that they had done so. Last year's club was piloted by rookie manager (and Hall of Fame catcher) Gary Carter, who did not return for 2007. Now, it's time for skipper Frank Cacciatore to lead St. Lucie to back-to-back championships. They'll meet a formidable Brevard County squad that won the East Division's first-half championship en route to putting together the best overall record in the division.

This one belonged to the Manatees, who thoroughly outclassed the Mets in both batting average (.314 vs. .258) and ERA (3.44 vs. 5.32). Brevard County won 11 of the 17 games played between the two clubs.

Head-to-Head Stats
Brevard County: OF Cole Gillespie is the man that the Mets fear the most, as the 23-year-old hit a ridiculous .472 over 15 games spanning 53 at-bats. Gillespie went yard twice, scored 14 runs and drove in nine. 2B Mike Bell batted .310 over 15 games, with a team-leading three home runs and 15 RBIs...Speedy OF Lorenzo Cain (24 stolen bases overall) hit .350 over 60 at-bats but was successful in just one of four steal opportunities...3B Mat Gamel, one of the club's greatest offensive threats, compiled a measly .621 OPS against the Mets...LHP Rafael Lluberes made a team-high four starts against St. Lucie and went 2-1 with a solid 3.15 ERA over 20 innings...RHP Ben Stanczyk went 2-0 and did not allow a run over five appearances spanning 9 2/3 innings...RHP Joshua Wahpepah yielded just one run over 15 1/3 innings pitched.

St. Lucie: 1B Nick Evans has more home runs (15) than any other player currently on the Mets' roster, but none of them came against Brevard County. Still, the 21-year-old hit .353 and got on base at a .452 clip over 10 games...3B Daniel Murphy played 17 games and collected 61 at-bats against the Manatees, but hit just .246 and mustered only two extra-base hits...OF Victor Mendez, who first appeared with the Mets on Aug. 18, went 5-for-12 with a home run and six RBIs over three contests...RHP Eric Brown went 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA over four starts totaling 22 1/3 innings pitched...RHP Jose De La Torre did not fare nearly as well, as the native of Puerto Rico compiled a 9.24 ERA over four appearances (two starts), and allowed 23 hits over just 12 2/3 innings pitched...On Aug. 22, RHP Tobi Stoner struck out 10 over eight shutout innings.


Game 1: Brevard County at St. Lucie
LHP David Welch (6-7, 3.40) vs. LHP Jonathan Niese (11-7, 4.29)
Game 2: St. Lucie at Brevard County
RHP Eric Brown (10-8, 4.13) vs. RHP Mike McClendon (5-6, 4.23)
Game 3: St. Lucie at Brevard County (if necessary)
RHP Deolis Guerra (2-6, 4.01) vs. LHP Brae Wright (0-2, 2.84)

Brevard County:
Only two of Josh Wahpepah's 41 appearances were starts, but the right-hander has more victories (9) than any other player on the team...LHP Brae Wright has been a solid addition to the pitching staff since making his debut with the Manatees on July 30. Although 0-2 over seven appearances (six starts), the 23-year-old has compiled a 2.84 ERA and help opponents to a .194 average against him...RHP Ryan Patrick has a 1.75 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over 33 relief appearances.

St. Lucie:
LHP Jonathan Niese has more starts (27), innings pitched (110) and wins (11) than any other hurler currently on the roster...The Mets have employed a closer-by-committee strategy this season, as six players on the roster have at least one save. Jose De La Torre leads with eight...Groundball specialist Nick Abel has recorded seven saves over eight opportunities and has a stellar 2.37 ERA over 42 appearances.

Brevard County
The Manatees' lineup is stocked with speedsters. OF Darren Ford stole 36 bases in just 72 ballgames, while OF Lorenzo Cain swiped 24 bases, OF Cole Gillespie 16 and 3B Mat Gamel 14...Speed is just part of what Gamel brings to the table, as the Florida native hit .300, scored 78 runs, and drove in 60...2B Mike Bell blasted 13 homers and drove in 71 runs.

St. Lucie
IF Emmanuel Garcia has stolen 33 bases over 46 chances...OF Victor Mendez compiled a mighty 1.113 OPS over 13 games with the Mets...3B Daniel Murphy led St. Lucie in runs (67), hits (143), doubles (34), and RBIs (78).

Brevard County has been a member of the Florida State League since 1994, and in that time has been unable to secure a stand-alone championship. The Manatees lost in the finals in their inaugural season and in 2001 were declared "co-champions" (along with the Tampa Yankees) after that year's terrorist attacks prematurely ended the season. The Mets, meanwhile, won it all in 1988, 1996, 1998, 2003 and, of course, 2006.

The Mets' ability to keep the Manatees off of the basepaths. Brevard County hit .314 against St. Lucie in the season series, which led to an average of 5.4 runs per game. If St. Lucie can minimize the influence of Ford, Gamel and (especially) Gillespie, then their chance of victory will greatly increase.

The Mets have history on their side, but the Manatees are a stronger team from top to bottom. Look for them to sweep their way into the finals. Brevard County in two.

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