Cubs Minor League Daily: First Half Playoff Races Heating Up

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Cubs Minor League Daily: First Half Playoff Races Heating Up

Chicago Cubs

I know it seems odd to be talking playoffs in May, but most minor league leagues run a split calendar in which they declare first half and second half winners. That means guaranteed tickets to the 2017 playoffs are going to be awarded in most leagues in about a month. It is definitely time to start scoreboard watching.

One exception to the first half procedure, though, is the AAA Pacific Coast League, which instead determines its playoffs at the end of the full season. Now at 19-22, the Iowa Cubs have moved to within shouting distance of .500. They are also back to within 6 games of the division lead with a lot of baseball to be played. Soon the Chicago team will be healthy again, and that means they’ll return the borrowed Iowans (some of them, anyway). Factor in the additional pitchers that have been coming out of extended spring training, and Iowa may be a few days away from their strongest roster of the year. They might make a run at this division yet.

The Smokies’ hard fought division lead, won on the road in Jackson, was quickly frittered away with losses at home. Despite a very good 24-18 record, good enough to be second best in the league, the Smokies are once again trailing Jackson, but only by half a game. This first half title race may go down to the wire.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have been playing pretty good baseball the past few weeks, but they haven’t had much success against Buies Creek. Unfortunately, they’ve seen a lot of Buies Creek lately. And that is why the Pelicans are now in third place, still behind Buies Creek, and facing a deficit that has widened to four and a half games. The Pelicans were in a similar situation last year, persistently trailing Salem, until they finally caught fire at the end of the season and snuck into the playoffs. This year’s team certainly has the talent to do the same.

At 26-15, the South Bend Cubs have a a better record than any team in the Western division of the Midwest League. Annoyingly, they play in the Eastern Division, and in that division they are only in third. Worse, the Midwest League takes two teams, not one, from each division in each half. Right now, the Cubs are on the outside looking in. Fortunately, they are only two and a half back in the division and just one and a half behind for a playoff slot, and they have a lot of baseball yet to play. There is plenty of time to claim one of those first half playoff tickets.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Tacoma 7, Iowa 5
The ninth began with Iowa leading 4-3.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies

The Smokies were rained out.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Salem 9, Myrtle Beach 2
Two awful innings sunk the Pelicans.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 11, Lansing 7 in a rain shortened five and a half innings.
The Cubs did all their scoring in the third inning.

Other Notes

  • I would not mind seeing the split schedule system tried at the Major League level. It works in the minors because there is often a lot of roster turnover partway through the year, and it is very often that the best team in May is not the best team in August. In the Majors, it could add a nice injection of excitement mid-season while also allowing teams that were hit by an unlucky run of injuries to still have a fighting shot at a playoff slot. I doubt such an idea would go anywhere, and I might not like it once I saw it in action, but I would not mind seeing it tried.
  • Star Wars night in South Bend featured some quite nice jerseys with a strong Han Solo vibe. A silent auction ran during the game, but it looks like they are available in an online auction as well. There are no names on the jerseys, so here’s a link to the roster in case you want to go bidding on a particular player’s uniform. A lot of the uniforms online don’t actually match any player numbers, so you might be out of luck on that front regardless.

Author: Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.