Everything you need to know–and more–about the 2016 IronPigs playoff series with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
**Updated 9/7, 1:30PM
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders–AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees–91-52 and regular season champion of the International League North, come to Allentown to start a best-of-5 series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 85-58, the playoff Wild Card team. The first two games will be in Allentown, with the final three in the three days immediately following, up in Moosic, PA. This is a match-up of the top two teams in the entire International League!
The RailRiders won the season series–and the coveted IronRail Trophy–10-8 in 2016.
Over the past 10 games, the RailRiders are 8-2 and have won 7 in a row–this despite losing a number of players to call-ups and trades. The IronPigs are 7-3 over the past 10.
Game One: Wednesday, September 7, 7:05PM, Coca Cola Park, Allentown (Rally Towel giveaway)
Game Two: Thursday, September 8, 7:05PM, Coca Cola Park, Allentown (Happy Hour 5-7PM)
Game Three: Friday, September 9, 6:35PM, PNC Field, Moosic
Game Four (if necessary): Saturday, September 10, 6:35PM, PNC Field, Moosic
Game Five (if necessary): Sunday, September 11, 1:05PM, PNC Field, Moosic
Game One: The IronPigs send RHP Ben Lively (11-5, 3.06 in AAA; 7-0, 1.87 in AA) to the mound to face LHP Jordan Montgomery (5-1, 0.97 in AAA; 9-4, 2.55 in AA) of the RailRiders.
Notes: Montgomery lost to the IronPigs on 8/2 at Coca Cola Park. The 2-1 IronPigs win was versus Ben Lively, who went 8 innings of 3-hit ball yielding 1 unearned run. Stassi and Hunter each had 2 hits. That game had Judge, Sanchez, and Austin in the lineup–all currently with the Yankees. The IronPigs are 36-19 versus opposing LHP starters, which is interesting because the RailRiders have four out of five lined up to face the ‘Pigs!
Game Two: Veteran LHP Anthony Vasquez (4-1, 2.64 in AAA; 8-3, 3.40 in AA) goes to the mound for the IronPigs and the RailRiders send veteran LHP Phil Coke (5-3, 2.96 in AAA; 0-0, 6.00 in MLB)
Notes: Coke pitched at Coca Cola Park on 8/23. He came on to reliever starter Brady Lail, pitched one inning and yielded 4 earned runs. Williams, Asche and Knapp all doubled off Coke. That game was also won by Ben Lively who pitched 6 innings of 1-hit, no-run ball in the IronPigs 8-0 thrashing. Vasquez has faced Scranton three times in his last 10 outings and gone a combined 1-0, with IronPigs going 2-1 in those games. He had a 3.60 ERA, yielded 6 runs on 17 hits over 15 innings of work.
Game Three: As the series moves up the Turnpike, the IronPigs are expected to send RHP Phil Klein (5-1, 1.52 with IronPigs; combined 0-1, 5.93 with Texas and Philadelphia MLB) to face RailRiders starter RHP Brady Lail (7-6, 5.07 at AAA; 1-2, 3.69 at AA).
Notes: Lail started games in Allentown 8/1 and 8/23, losing both with ERA’s of 8.44 and 3.18 respectively. Lail is the only RHP the RailRiders will start in this series. Klein has been the ‘Pigs best starter of late. Klein only faced Scranton once, the 8/9 Milner/Hinojosa debacle, but he went 5.0 and struck out 10 giving up one run on four hits. He was pulled after 85 pitches.
Game Four (if nec): Veteran RHP David Buchanan (10-9, 3.98) is scheduled to face LHP Richard Bleier (2-3, 3.72 at AAA; 0-0, 3.38 MLB)
Notes: Bleier has faced the IronPigs in 3 of his last 10 outings. Going back to 5/5 at Coca Cola Park, he got the win in a 10-1 thrashing by the RailRiders scattering 6 hits over 7 innings and giving up one run. Tommy Joseph and Sweeney each had two hits. On 8/11 in Moosic, he was the starting pitcher in a 5-inning rain-shortened IronPigs victory, where he was taken out after 2.2 innings and replaced by Phil Coke, who took the loss. Nick Williams had two hits in the game, and Valentin had a double. Most recently, he started the IronRail-clinching game at Coca Cola Park leaving after three innings and yielding to pig-killer Dietrich Enns. Williams hit a triple off him in the early stages of that game. Buchanan faced the RailRiders in back-to-back starts 8/4 at Coca Cola Park and 8/10 at PNC Field. On 8/4 he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits but went a complete 9 innings in a 4-2 Pigs loss. On 8/10 he got shelled for 6 runs on 9 hits in 4.1 innings of work with the NoiseNation in the house. He didn’t have a good breaking pitch that day and the stacked ‘Riders made him pay for it: Judge, Gamel and Austin all had good games, as well as the still-present Frazier and Solano.
Game Five (if nec): Young RHP Nick Pivetta (1-2, 2.55 at AAA; 11-6, 3.41 at AA) would start the final game of the series. The RailRiders will send LHP Daniel Camarena (0-1, 6.00 at AAA (0 starts); 9-6, 3.68 at AA (22 starts)) who just came up from Trenton.
Camarena’s last start was against Reading at Arm And Hammer, where he got shelled. Pivetta has not face the RailRiders in his 5 AAA starts to date.
Rosters and Transactions
The Yankees have certainly done the RailRiders no favors of late. Here is a list of core RailRider players who are no longer on the team since August 1:
- RHP Nick Goody (Yankees)
- CF Ben Gamel (IL MVP, Traded)
- C Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
- RHP Chad Green (DL)
- LHP Chasen Shreve (Yankees)
- RHP Luis Severino (Yankees)
- 3B Rob Refsnyder (Yankees)
- RHP Nick Goody (Yankees)
- RHP Ben Heller (Yankees)
- RHP Luis Cessa (Yankees)
- OF Aaron Judge (Yankees)
- RHP Kirby Yates (Yankees)
- OF Eric Young, Jr (Yankees)
- RHP Jonathan Holder (Yankees)
- RHP Nick Rumbelow (DL)
- RHP Bryan Mitchell (Yankees)
- LHP James Pazos (Yankees)
This makes the loss of Darin Ruf seem a little easier to take, no? Many of the Yankees prospects are either in the Majors right now, or at the lower levels. CF Mason Williams is the #14 prospect; OF Clint Frazier is a top prospect the Yankees received from the Indians. He’s coming off an injury and hasn’t had that much time in AAA, although he’s a very talented player. Other players to watch for Scranton: 3B Donovan Solano, 2B Jose Rosario, OF Cesar Puello, 1B Cito Culver, OF Jake Cave and C Kyle “Higgy” Higashioka. Game one starter Montgomery is very good. LHP Dietrich Enns has killed us a couple times this season.
IronPigs Printable Roster: 2016-lhv-roster-9-6
Notes: The IronPigs received OF Osmel Aguila back from Reading as Roman Quinn was activated for the Fightins. He’ll be a bench piece and possible pinch runner in this series; I don’t expect him to have a big role, although he played well on Monday. I’ll keep you updated on possible changes to the RailRiders roster. Tuesday, Milner was returned to Reading in favor of Infante and INF Angelo Mora, as Reading added a couple guys from Clearwater now that the A+ season is over for them. Infante will wear #22; Mora #8. The IronPigs have had 133 transactions this season.
The RailRiders received two new pitchers Tuesday from Trenton.
If You’re Going
First, wear red. The IronPigs have urged us to try to get a “red out” going–which is much preferable to the “white out” in baseball, as former IronPig Delwyn Young pointed out long ago. The official playoff T-Shirts and Hats are red as well.
Second, you’ll need tickets. Many, many good seats will remain for all of these games at Coca Cola Park, right up until game time. Playoff baseball is tough to sell in the semi-pros, with kids back in school, fall sports, and no time to book groups. Also, many of the corporate seats and seats including in advertising contracts and the like will be available for purchase unless those companies step up and purchase their playoff packages.
I don’t usually pimp this hard, but here are links for tickets:
Note: That RailRider link is for discounted LHV tickets behind our dugout. Use code “PIGSFAN” if prompted! Otherwise, just use their ticketmaster site to purchase anywhere else in the stadium. If the link doesn’t work, call the RailRiders on the phone and ask for the offer with the code, “PIGSFAN.”
Parking at Coca Cola Park is $5. Access is easy via Airport Road, 15th Street/Sumner Ave and the new Parkway Bridge, I-78/4th Street etc. There’s plenty to see around Coca Cola Park, so get in early and walk around, get something to eat, and get ready for some playoff baseball.
Gates in Allentown Wednesday: 5:45PM Main; 5:30PM Club — Thursday: Main 5PM (Happy Hour), Club 5:30PM
Home games will be televised locally on Service Electric TV-2. Outside the Lehigh Valley, watch the games on MiLB.TV, and tune in there when the series shifts to Moosic, PA on Thursday. In Scranton, the games may or may not be on FOX 56 WOLF or WQMY (9?).
On the radio, listen to Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer along with host Phil Constantino on ESPN Radio 1230/1320/1160. The games are also streamed Live on the Tune-In Radio App as well as from IronPigsBaseball.com and the ESPN Radio Lehigh Valley website.
In Scranton I believe the games are on the radio NEPA Sports Radio 1400/1440/FM 106.7.
The IL West champion Columbus Clippers limp into the playoffs 4-6 in their last 10 after winning two in a row. Once the hottest team in the IL, they had been slipping quite a bit since clinching. They finish the season 82-62, good enough for third overall behind Scranton and Lehigh Valley. They might be vulnerable to an upset by Gwinnett, representing the lowly IL South and coming in with a 65-78 record. They’re 13 games under .500 and could still win the whole thing!
In the AA Eastern League, the IronPigs junior squad faces the RailRiders youth exactly opposite our schedule: They’ll start in Trenton on Wednesday and Thursday, then move to Reading for Friday and the weekend as necessary. Look for a full update and look at that match-up sometime before Friday’s home game.
Keys To The Game
For the IronPigs: The pitching should be solid. They key for the ‘Pigs will be to continue hitting the ball well. They’ve gone through some spots–especially in previous games versus the RailRiders–where they just weren’t hitting. The other question would be the bullpen. If starters aren’t allowed to go deep into games due to pitch/inning limits, then the ‘pen will need to hold things down for the Pigs’ excellent starters.
For the RailRiders: They’ll need to match the Pigs pitchers with appropriate hitting. They’ll need to continue to believe in their winning ways despite the massive roster losses over the past month. If they lose early, they’ll have to avoid looking forward to the off-season. And with four lefty starters in their rotation, they’ll have to pitch well to tame an IronPigs lineup which usually crushes leftys.
Dan: RailRiders in 3
Decal: IronPigs in 4
DiPro: IronPigs in 4
Cheryl: IronPigs in 4
Kram: IronPigs in 3
“Kram’s Korner” Final Thoughts
I know I look the ‘homer’ going IronPigs in three. And Dan’s obviously going for the “reverse jinx.”
I wasn’t going to. In fact, if the series gets to 5, I think the RailRiders take it. The thing is, our pitching looks so much better early on and we’ve seen theirs before and we’ve hit them before. I know the ‘Riders come in “hot” having won a bunch of games, but many of those were versus Buffalo and Syracuse squads who are ready to hit the golf courses this fall. I really think we mow them over. Perhaps a close one in game one–maybe 1-0 or 2-1, then we light up Phil Coke and win 8-2 in game 2. The Friday game in Moosic will look a little closer but the Pigs will take it 4-2 behind a Phil Klein complete game. The RailRiders have just lost too, too many good players to be able to hang with a team mostly intact–and second best in the league–like the IronPigs.
Then of course, we lose to Columbus, because we always do.
“Hammer of the gods, will drive our ships to new land.
To fight the hordes, and sing and cry.
Valhalla I am coming.”
See you at the park,
PS: “IronPigs Today” column may be published sporadically through the playoffs as we attempt to cover both Lehigh Valley and Reading.