Triple-A National Championship Game Preview

The Triple-A Season is down to its final game.  Tuesday in Scranton, PA, the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) of the Pacific Coast League will face the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) of the International League in a one-game, winner-takes-all National Championship.  This is a re-match of the 2009 finals when Durham beat Memphis 5-4.  This will be the third appearance for Durham and the second for Memphis.

The Durham Bulls tied with the Scranton/WB RailRiders in wins this season with 86.  The Bulls won the International League’s South Division by 15 games over the Gwinnett Braves.  They held the best record in the International League with wins at home and wins on the road.  They faced the Indianapolis Indians in the first round of the playoffs and won the series 3-1.  They’d face the Scranton/WB RailRiders in the Governors’ Cup Finals and would take that best-of-five 3-1 as well, scoring six runs in each of the three victories.  Durham is 1-1 in the National Championship Game with their win coming against Memphis.

Ryan Yarbrough led Durham in wins with 13.  He also led innings pitched (157.1) and led the team in strikeouts (159).  Jake Bauers was the leading home run hitter for Durham with 13.  The team overall wasn’t known for power but they found plenty of other ways to get runs in.  Patrick Leonard drove in 70 runs which led the team and was also a career-high for him as well.  The Bulls were second in the International League with 131 stolen bases and were led by Mallex Smith who swiped 21.

The Memphis Redbirds were the best team in all of Triple-A as far as wins in 2017.  They won 91 games which was 11 better than any other team in the Pacific Coast League.  They won the PCL’s American South Division by a whopping 22 games over the Nashville Sounds.  As was the case with Durham, Memphis did hold the best record at home and on the road for their league.  The playoffs were a different story for Memphis as they seemed to struggle just a bit.  It took them all five games to get past the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.  They’d also need all five games to beat the El Paso Chihuahua’s for the PCL title.  They are 0-1 in the National Championship game.

Although he isn’t on Memphis’ roster, Luke Weaver still led the team in wins with 10.  He was the only pitcher on the roster to register double digits in wins.  Mike Mayers led the Redbirds in innings with 109.2, and John Gant recorded the most strikeouts with 99.  Patrick Wisdom hit 31 home runs this season which was a career high.  Tyler O’Neill led the team in runs batted in with 95.  Memphis finished towards the bottom of the PCL in stolen bases with 84.  Wilfredo Torvar led the team in that category with 19.

This is going to be a very good baseball game.  There are so many good prospects on both sides and should provide plenty of entertainment.  From the looks of things it appears that Memphis is sending Dakota Hudson to the mound to start the game.  Hudson is currently listed as the St. Louis Cardinals eighth prospect and went 1-1 with an ERA of 4.42 in seven starts at the Triple-A level.  He spent a majority of the season playing in Double-A Springfield.

Ryan Yarbrough is going to start the game for Durham on Tuesday.  He has won his last two playoff starts including a seven-inning gem back on September 12th.  He was 13-6 overall this season for the Bulls and hasn’t lost a game since the middle of August.

CNY Photographer Gabe Rodriguez will be on hand Tuesday night in Scranton, so be sure to check back for game photos and recap.