Hartford and Jackson meet in the LCs for the 4th straight year. The Katanas won the first 2 meetings; the Holes swept last year en route to their first World Series title.
Jackson won last year largely with stingy pitching. This year's staff, with the exception of Johnny Collier, didn't live up to last year's standards. Del Mendoza was especially disappointing: 18-5, 2.89 and an All-Star last year, he fell to 10-11, 5.38 this season. Add to that the falloff of Wilson Costello to mere mortal status, and the Holes don't seem to have the same invincible status as they did last year.
Hartford stepped up both offensively and pitchingly, leading the league in both runs scored and ERA. Little Rock tested that pitching staff in the DCS, roughing up Brocail , Valdes and Benitez in the first three games. Rodriguez and Torres righted the ship in Games 4 and 5, casting some doubt on the Katanas' LCS rotation.
Hartford took the season series 8-2. Regardless of who's on the mound, they'll be too much for the Holes this year. Katanas in 6.
Oakland gets to the LCS for the 2nd straight year, while Syracuse returns after a 2-year absence.
These teams were very close statistically - the Surenos lead the league in runs scored, while the Warriors came in #2. Oakland was #5 in ERA, Syracuse was 7th. Both teams made mid-season moves to get pitching help (and both paid off): Oakland landed Gary Ramsay, who went 13-6, 2.77 after the trade; Syracuse got Ruben James, who went 9-2, 2.42 for them.
Oakland took the season series 6-4, so they were pretty close there. Look for a close series...Surenos in 7.