The two best teams in the International League square off against one another this upcoming Wednesday as the Stripers play host to the Columbus Clippers at Coolray Field. The Clippers finished 2019 with a 81-59 record, while the Stripers came up just shy of the best record in the league - with a 80-59 record. Here’s how the two teams line up against one another in a playoff preview.
Alex Jackson - .229/.313/.533 28 HR, 9 2B, 65 RBI. .983% Fld%, 50% CS%.
Dioner Navarro - .211/.339/.274 1 HR, 3 2B, 11 RBI. ,993% Fld%, 27% CS%.
Big advantage to the Stripers in this matchup as the Clippers top Catcher, Eric Haase, has been called up to the majors for the Cleveland Indians so the Clippers turn to journeymen Dioner Navarro and Ryan Lavarnway to call the staff in the playoffs.
Jonathan Morales - .240/.305/.309, 2 HR, 81 wRC+, .312 wOBA
Bobby Bradley - .267/.348/.574, 33 HR, 128 wRC+, .383 wOBA
Without a true first baseman on the roster Stripers will likely call on Jonathan Morales to handle first. While Morales is having a solid season, Bobby Bradley is having an extremely strong season for Columbus as he sports a 128 wRC+ and 33 homers. Massive advantage for Columbus.
Jack Lopez - .274/.319/.412, 11 HR, 85 wRC+, .318 wOBA
Mark Mathias - .270/.357/.437, 11 HR, 104 wRC+, .347 wOBA
The Clippers take the second base competition s well as Mark Mathias has outperformed Jack Lopez in almost every statistical category.
Pedro Florimon - .265/.358/.410, 12 HR, 99 wRC+, .340 wOBA
Eric Stamets - .244/.312/.373, 6 HR, .244/.312/.373, 75 wRC+, .302 wOBA
Pedro Florimon has put in a league average offensive year and that was more than enough to win the first base battle between these two teams as it’s been a revolving door at short for the Clippers and for the time being Eric Stamets is their starting shortstop.
Andres Blanco - .262/.364/.443, 19 HR, 109 wRC+, .355 wOBA
Andrew Velazquez - .244/.261/.378, 0 HR
Andres Blanco takes the win at the third as the journeyman has had a strong season for Gwinnett - playing a solid defensive third while putting in a 109 wRC+ on the offensive side of things. Andrew has bounced between the minors and majors a ton, and was recently acquired by the Indians in a trade with the Rays for an unstated amount of international spending capacity.
Drew Waters - .284/.345/.392, 2 HR, 91 wRC+, .326 wOBA
Daniel Johnson - .307/.373/.491 8 HR, 120 wRC+, .370 wOBA
As much as I want to give the nod to Drew, Daniel Johnson has far out produced Drew so far this season in Triple-A. Daniel, an intriguing prospect of his own, is coming into his own as a prospect now that he’s in the Indians organization. He’s actually seen his power numbers go down since being promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, but he’s still had a good season. That being said if Drew clicks at the plate...this could change very quickly.
Cristian Pache - .250/.310/.380, 1 HR, 76 wRC+, .304 wOBA
Ka’ai Tom - .298/.370/.564, 7 HR, 123 wRC+, .376 wOBA
Clear win for the Clippers as Ka’ai Tom and Bradley Zimmer have been absolutely fantastic for Columbus all season long. Tom has put together a .933 OPS Triple-A line.
Adam Duvall - .264/.358/.602, 32 HR, 136 wRC+, .395 wOBA
Connor Marabell - .217/.277/.317, 1 HR, 51 wRC+, .266 wOBA
I don’t think I have to say much here. Adam Duvall has had a fantastic year while Connor Marabell has struggled a ton. Clear win for Atlanta in this matchup.
Pitching clearly favors Gwinnett, though team stats are a bit skewed because Kolby Allard is no longer with Gwinnett, in this matchup of the top two teams in the league. Gwinnett bolsters the top ranked pitching staff in terms of ERA (4.30), and WHIP (1.35) thanks in large part to Bryse Wilson whose 3.42 ERA leads the international league. Up there with him is Kyle Wright who, at 4.17, has the sixth lowest ERA among all qualified pitchers in the International League. Patrick Weigel has also been very good for Gwinnett, going 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA, and 1.17 WHIP while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Gwinnett also bolsters a pitching staff including Ben Rowen (3.48 ERA), Ian Anderson, Touki Toussaint, Tucker Davidson, A.J. Minter - all top prospects for the Braves. Meanwhile, the Indians have three of their top 30 prospects with Columbus - Logan Allen (#3 - 5 starts, 7.66 ERA, 1.93 WHIP), Scott Moss (#17, 4 starts, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP), and James Karinchak (#17, 17 games, 4.67 ERA, 1.56 WHIP).
Overall, Gwinnett wins the position battle 5-4 over Columbus in what should be a fantastic playoff series. The two best teams really are matching up in the semifinals and whoever wins should be considered the clear favorites to win it all. If the Gwinnett youngsters (Waters, Pache) shine - this could be a very quick series for Gwinnett, but if the pitching falters it could get ugly quick. That being said, I will take Gwinnett as the Semifinal winners, and the overall winners of the International League.