HEISER: York Revolution's worst-to-first turnaround has team primed for league title run
- The York Revolution won the Atlantic League Freedom Division second-half title with a 40-30 record.
- The Revs finished last in the Freedom Division first half at 28-42.
- York takes on Southern Maryland in the Freedom Division Championship Series starting Wednesday.
Just 2½ months ago, the whole idea of the York Revolution winning an Atlantic League title would’ve seemed almost absurd.
The Revs were just finishing up an ugly first half to the Atlantic League season at 28-42. They were 11 games back of the first-half champion Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and finished in the Freedom Division cellar.
They looked like a team going nowhere fast.
Fast forward 11 weeks later, and the Revs suddenly look like real threats to bring home the third Atlantic League championship in franchise history.
A team that looked lost in the first half rolled to the second-half Freedom crown with a 40-30 record.
Who could’ve predicted that worst-to-first turnaround?
Well, maybe Revs’ manager Mark Mason, who’s undoubtedly seen more than a few unlikely turnarounds during his eight seasons in York — three as a pitching coach and five as a manager.
He’s the longest-tenured manager in Revs’ history and picked up his 350th win over the weekend.
Atlantic League can be unpredictable: Mason knows that Atlantic League baseball can be wildly unpredictable.
A first-half champion can, and often is, stripped of its best talent when affiliated organizations find themselves in need of some help.
Meanwhile, teams that struggle in the first half can catch fire in the second half with the help of some well-timed additions of cast-off players from affiliated organizations.
Nash has been big help: That certainly happened in York this season. Telvin Nash, for example, returned to York in late July. He played for the Revs in 2015 and 2016, putting up some impressive power numbers, before having his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox in June of 2016.
His stint with the White Sox organization, however, did not go smoothly. Nash was suspended in late August of 2016 for 50 games for testing positive for an amphetamine, according to multiple reports.
In July of 2017, Nash was released by the White Sox organization after hitting just a combined .205 for two different affiliated teams.
Within a few days, the 6-foot, 1-inch, 230-pound Nash was back with the Revs.
It’s been a very happy reunion. In just 48 games with York, Nash has slugged 16 homers and driven in 39 runs, while hitting .282. He played a pivotal role in York’s second-half turnaround.
Crabs struggled in second half: With Nash’s help, York will enter the best-of-five Freedom Division Championship Series on a major roll. The series vs. the Crabs starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at PeoplesBank Park.
Southern Maryland, by contrast, has seriously floundered in the second half, limping to a 28-42 mark, finishing dead last in the Freedom Division, 12 games behind York.
If recent form means anything, the Revs would appear to be the heavy favorite.
York's hitting, pitching solid: York boasts a potent and balanced offense, paced by Nash, Alonzo Harris (.315 average, 23 homers, 73 RBIs, 31 stolen bases), Isaias Tejeda (.300 average, 17 homers, 78 RBIs) and Jared Mitchell (.295 average, 14 homers, 62 RBIs, 24 stolen bases).
They also feature a strong one-two starting pitching combination in Frank Gailey (14-9, 4.12 ERA) and Jay Gause (10-4, 3.67).
Finally, the team’s bullpen looks solid, with four pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched and an ERA at 3.00 or lower.
Primed for success: It’s a team that appears ready to make some serious noise in the playoffs.
Of course, in the wildly unpredictable Atlantic League, there are no guarantees.
After all, just 11 weeks ago, who would’ve predicted that the Revs would be in this position?
Other than Mason, his players and a few die-hard Revs fans, the answer is likely almost no one.
Still, here we are in late September, and the Revs appear primed to make a championship run.
The absurd could soon become reality.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.