The Bandits went 43-27 in the second half, and the Kernels went 36-34. Neither team comes in very hot, both finishing their last 10 games of the season 5-5. The River Bandits went 9-4 against the Kernels in the regular season, but the two teams have not played each other since July 20th. That was the last game of a 3 game series which the Bandits won 2 out of 3. The Kernels took the first game by a score of 3-2. The Bandits took the last two by scores of 5-1 and 14-5. A number of players from both teams have been called up since then, but there are several still with both teams.
River Bandits’ key hitters: Nick Tanielu has been the Bandits’ #3 hitter most of the season. In that 3 game series in July he went 4 for 12 with 5RBI. He’s been a solid, consistent presence in the lineup all year. He had been on the DL late in the season, but returned to play the final 3 games of the regular season. Hopefully he is healthy and ready for the playoffs. They will need him to produce. Bobby Boyd was 3 for 10 in that July series. He normally bats leadoff or #2 in the lineup. He’s a key table-setter for the Bandits. Jason Martin has also batted at the top of the lineup a lot here in the second half. He has a .346 OBP and 65 runs scored. Bryan Muniz has batted cleanup in the second half and has done really well putting up a .846 OPS with 48 RBI in 74 games. Muniz could be the difference in this series.
Kernels’ key hitters: The Kernels do not have a lot of power but they have several players with high OBP. T.J. White has been solid all year for the Kernels, with a .359 OBP. He has played in 106 games for the Kernels usually in the #3 slot. He was not in the lineup for that series in July. Edgar Corcino also bats in the middle of the lineup. He went 6 for 10 with 3 walks in that July series and has a .340 OBP. Second baseman Rafael Valera has an impressive .378 OBP. Center fielder Austin Deimer is hitting .280 but 13 of his 37 hits are for extra bases.
Game 1 pitching matchup: Joshua James (7-4, 2.63 ERA) for the Bandits versus Felix Jorge (6-7, 2.79 ERA) for the Kernels. Jorge has made 2 starts versus the Bandits’ this year, and pitched well both times. Each time he only allowed 1 earned run, going at least 6 innings. He got a no decision in both games, but the Kernels won both in the later innings. James has faced the Kernels three times. Back on April 30, James threw 4 shutout innings in relief to close out the game and earn a win. He only allowed 1 hit, and had 5K’s. He made 2 starts against the Kernels since then, going 5 innings both times, and allowing 2 and 3 runs in those starts. James got a no decision both times but the Bandits went on to win both.
Game 2 probable starters: Brock Dykxhoorn (8-5, 3.88 ERA) for the Bandits versus Sam Gibbons (7-4, 2.89 ERA) for the Kernels
Game 3 probable starters (if necessary): Dean Deetz (5-1, 0.76 ERA) for the Bandits versus Keaton Steele (7-4, 3.41 ERA) for the Kernels
Prediction: Game 1 is at Cedar Rapids and games 2 and 3 will be at Quad Cities. All the Kernels have to do is win their home game to put the Bandits’ back against the wall. I like the Bandits’ chances since they did so well during the season against the Kernels. As you can see the pitching is pretty even. The Bandits just have a bit more pop in their lineup than the Kernels. The Bandits are favorites to win this series.