After long wait, playoffs finally arrive for Revolution
- York went 76-64 in the regular season, the third-best mark in club history.
- The Revs clinched a playoff berth back on June 30 as the first-half Freedom Division champions.
- York will face Sugar Land in the best-of-five Freedom Division Championship Series, beginning Tuesday.
Since the York Revolution clinched the first-half Freedom Division title, it's been looking toward the 2016 Atlantic League playoffs.
York had to play out the second half of the regular season with little incentive, other than the competitive drive to win games. To the team's credit, it continued its strong play for much of the second half, too. Now, however, the Revs can finally walk into a clubhouse and prepare for the postseason.
York (76-64) will open the 2016 playoffs with two road games against the second-half Freedom Division champs, the Sugar Land Skeeters. Action in the best-of-five Freedom Division Championship Series starts Tuesday night.
While the 76 wins were the third most for a season in franchise history, it could've been more, had the Revs not played, easily, their worst baseball during the final week of the season. The only thing that saved them from entering the postseason on a seven-game losing streak was Sunday's victory in the regular-season finale, which snapped a six-game slide. That skid kept York from the league's best regular-season record, with the Revs finishing one game behind the Somerset Patriots for the league's top mark. That is the closest a Revs team has ever come to finishing the regular season with the league's best record.
Still, it's been since June 30 that York last played a baseball game with playoff implications. That's the day the team secured a postseason berth by wrapping up the first-half Freedom Division title.
X-factors: The battle vs. the Skeeters may not be the best match-up for York. In 20 games this season, the Skeeters (74-66) went 12-8 against York, including an impressive 7-3 mark at Constellation Field, the site of the first two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If there's one potential x-factor in this series that could favor the Revs, however, it doesn't come in the form of one player. It actually could be attributed to a mindset. The York players never feel that they're out of any game. The Revs posted 44 come-from-behind victories this year, eight more than the previous club record set in both 2008 and 2014. Of those 44 comeback wins, 15 came when the team was trailing after six innings, including a couple seven-run ninth innings that also set a club record for most runs scored in the ninth inning.
Players to watch: For each team, players who could impact the series the most would likely be Isaias Tejeda for York and Jeremy Barfield for Sugar Land.
Tejeda had two stints with the Revs in 2016, separated by a brief period spent with the Atlanta Braves organization in Class High-A. Tejeda left the team in mid-June with a 17-game hitting streak and extended it to 28 games when he returned, the second longest in club history. For the year, Tejeda hit .356 in 65 games, far and away the best average on the team, while also driving in 38 runs, belting nine home runs and scoring 40 runs, all in the top 10 on the team, despite playing in less than half of York's games.
Barfield, meanwhile, is someone the Revs know all about. He leads the Skeeters in three main offensive categories — batting average (.306), home runs (27) and RBIs (85). Against York this year, Barfield hit two home runs and drove in 15 runs, including driving in a season-high four runs on May 1.
Probable starters: While the full slate of starting pitchers for the series hasn't been released yet, the Revs have released their probable starters for Games 1-3, while the Skeeters have announced their probable starters for Games 1 and 2.
Expected to start in Game 1 on Tuesday night for York will be James Simmons (11-9, 4.37 ERA) vs. Sean Gallagher (10-8, 3.79). Following them in Game 2 on Wednesday night will be Micah Owings (7-6, 4.30) for the Revs vs. Aaron Thompson (9-5, 3.98). York's Game 3 starter on Friday night, the first game of the series at PeoplesBank Park, will be Frank Gailey (6-5, 3.14).
Schedule: Sugar Land will host the first two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8:05 p.m., with the final potential three games held in York on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday's games are set for 6:30 p.m. starts, while Sunday's Game 5 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Games 4 and 5 on Saturday and Sunday are only if necessary.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org