The Double-A Bowie Baysox play at Trenton tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Game 1 of the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series. Bowie is in the finals for the second time in the club’s 27-year history, looking for its second title.
The Baysox came from down 1-2 in games to beat Reading in Games 4 and 5 in 2015 to win its only Eastern League championship. That team included Trey Mancini, Chance Sisco and David Hess. Mychal Givens also pitched for Bowie that year, but only in the regular season.
If the Baysox are to win another Eastern League championship, they will likely need some success against major league pitchers that Trenton will be using on MLB rehab assignments in the first two games.
No Bowie or Orioles fan has to like it, but it’s all within the rules. Major league teams can send rehabbers to play in minor league playoff games. They don’t even count against the 25-man roster. And the New York Yankees are trying to get some of those pitchers ready for their own playoffs next month.
So for the series opener tonight, Bowie sends right-hander Michael Baumann (6-2, 2.31 ERA) to the mound against lefty Jordan Montgomery. He finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 and started last year 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA for the Yankees. But Montgomery underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2018 and now is on the road back.
Last Wednesday, Mongomery pitched against Reading in the Eastern League semifinals and allowed two runs and three hits over five innings. Not only is Montgomery starting that game, but Trenton is expected to also use MLB rehabbing pitchers Dellin Betances and Stephen Tarpley in Game 1. Betances threw a scoreless inning on 19 pitches last Friday against Reading. Tarpley was the Orioles’ third-round pick in 2013 and was traded for Pirates outfielder Travis Snider in January of 2015.
The Game 2 pitching matchup at Trenton on Wednesday night finds right-hander Cody Sedlock (1-2, 3.71 ERA) going for Bowie against Yankees right-hander Luis Severino. He’s been out all year with rotater cuff inflammation and a lat strain. For the 2018 Yankees, Severino went 19-8 with an ERA of 3.39 and WHIP of 1.145. He’s a two-time All Star and he finished ninth in the AL Cy Young vote last year.
Severino threw 50 pitches last Friday versus Reading allowing one run and five hits in three innings. After he leaves Game 2, Trenton is expected to turn the game over to 21-year-old right-hander Miguel Yajure, who this year went 9-6 with a 2.14 ERA, mostly with Tampa Bay in high Single-A ball but he joined Trenton late in the year.
If the Baysox survive facing those MLB pitchers in Trenton, they’ll come home and host Game 3 Thursday at 7:05 p.m. with lefty Zac Lowther (13-7, 2.55 ERA) facing Trenton righty Clarke Schmidt, who is New York’s No. 5 prospect per MLBPipeline.com. In three late season starts for Trenton he went 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and walked just one with 19 strikeouts in 19 innings. Then he gave up two hits and one unearned run over six innings in a playoff start last week.
So for Bowie hitters, the challenge, has been thrown down.
Maybe Bowie would not be facing all these MLB rehabbers if New York’s Triple-A Scranton team had won its first-round International League playoff series, but they did not.
Will this be a factor though? MLB rehab pitchers must use MLB balls in minor league rehab games. That ball has been flying this year in Triple-A and the majors, but is not used below Triple-A. So tonight, Baumann will be pitching with the minor league ball and Montgomery the MLB ball.
By the way, there are rumblings that Giancarlo Stanton and/or CC Sabathia could also join Trenton. Apparently Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were not available.
If the series advances to Game 4, the scheduled starter for Bowie is lefty Alex Wells (8-6, 2.95 ERA). A fifth and decided game would be Saturday night at 6:35 p.m. in Bowie with that pitcher TBA.
Bowie reached the Eastern League Championship Series by beating Harrisburg 3-1 in games, taking Game 4 on Saturday by 12-5 when Cedric Mullins went 5-for-6 and hit for the cycle. It was the first cycle for Bowie since Manny Machado on Aug. 4, 2012.
A look at Bowie hitters in the Harrisburg playoff series:
* Preston Palmeiro went 7-for-17 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs.
* Anderson Feliz went 5-for-17 in the series and hit two homers in Game 3.
* Ryan McKenna went 7-for-11 with a double and four runs scored.
* Mason McCoy went 4-for-17 with a double.
* Carlos Pérez went 2-for-15 but had a homer and five RBIs.
* Yusniel Diaz went 5-for-19 with a homer and was 4-for-10 the last two games.
Bowie is in the finals for the second time in team history while Trenton is in the finals for the third time in four years, but they lost the first two championship series. Bowie won its only championship in 2015 and Trenton last won the title in 2013.
Right now there are only Game 3 tickets on sale at Baysox.com. When there is definitely a Game 4, if there is going to be one, those tickets will go on sale for the game at Prince George’s Stadium.