RubberDucks Playoff Preview: Game 1
RubberDucks Playoff Preview
Wednesday night, the Akron RubberDucks will welcome in the Richmond Flying Squirrels to Canal Park to open up a best of five playoff series that will determine who will be crowned the EL Western division champions and who will advance to the Eastern League Championship series. Through injuries, promotions, rehab assignments and more, the RubberDucks have battled their way into the postseason.
Second baseman Joe Wendle said that much of this should be credited to manager David Wallace.
“He’s just had guys coming in and out the whole season. His lineup card probably hasn’t been the same for a week at a time. It speaks highly of him that he’s able to do that with this team with the things that we’ve had to deal with this season.”
Entering their second postseason in the past three years, Akron has lost 9 of its last 10 games. During this stretch, RubberDucks’ pitching has allowed five or more runs in all but two of those games. Throughout the season, Wally has always said that the team would only get as far as their pitching allowed them to. If the RubberDucks want to have a shot at an Eastern League Championship, they will have to depend on them.
In all fairness to the Akron’s club, the team has undergone massive changes in the past couple of weeks. Starter Joseph Colon went down with a shoulder injury that will most likely keep him out for the rest of the year, trusty reliever Enosil Tejeda was called up to Columbus and a platoon of fresh faces in the bullpen came in. As Wendle said, the changes this ball club has gone through have been tough, and Wally should absolutely be praised for the great job he’s done.
To no one’s surprise, Wally is going with arguably his best arm in the rotation to start the RubberDucks’ postseason run off right. With that being said, usually one would be confident in von Schamann to give Akron a great outing out of the gate. However as of late, he has allowed 13 earned runs over his last three games. This came after four consecutive wins and only four earned runs over that time period.
His opponent on the hill has done the exact opposite. The 21-year-old southpaw is pitching the best that he has this year for Richmond, giving up just seven runs over his last six games. He’ll likely be confident on the mound and go right at Akron hitters, and Wally’s guys have to prepared to face him.
Key to The Game:
A big reason why the RubberDucks have struggled lately has been pitching, but another has been their third batter in the lineup, Anthony Gallas. As soon as he came to Akron from Carolina, the right-handed power bat fit in just right with the team. He was hitting over .350 and at one point, had a batting average over .400.
Things were rolling for the Strongsville native, but over his last 10 games he has plummeted his average to less than .300 for the first time in Akron this year. During this stretch, he’s struck out 13 times and hit just one homer. He’s batting .132 and has only hit five times in 38 at-bats. This hurts a team that hasn’t found it at the plate in quite some time.
In order for this RubberDucks team to thrive in the playoffs, Gallas must find his swing that he had in mid-July. If he does, this team will be in great shape for a postseason championship run.
Spencer Davies is a student at the University of Akron studying Sports Management with a minor concentrating in Mass Communication. He has interned for the Cleveland Indians minor league affiliate Akron RubberDucks, IMG College, and has shadowed Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico. He currently is an on-air sports personality at WZIP-FM and works for the Akron Beacon Journal. Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpinDavies.