For the second time in three years, the league’s top two seeds in the playoffs were upset in the first round. Bacon at Mile 11, the team’s top seed, lost to the Marin Menehunes while High Cheese lost to Land Shark.
In 2014, the only other time the top two seeds were dispatched early, it was Bacon at Mile 11 and the Lower Haighters who were upset.
This is the third consecutive season Bacon has finished with the league’s best record without winning a championship.
Lower Haighters vs Land Shark
Not only did No. 7 seed Land Shark upset High Cheese but they did it handily. Land Shark’s 9-3 victory was the largest margin in the opening round of the playoffs. They finished 2-0 against High Cheese on the season, going a combined 16-8 in the two series. The Lower Haighters defeated Buster Hugs 9-2-1 in Week 2 of the regular season and it was that victory that landed the team in the championship semifinals because it was the tie-breaker used to determine the winner after the two teams tied to open the playoffs. Land Shark defeated the Lower Haighters 6-5-1 in Week 16. It was their only meeting this season.
Pitching: Dan Strailey and Jeremy Hellickson each had a pair of quality starts for Land Shark to open the playoffs. Hellickson didn’t allow an earned run over 15.1 innings. Kevin Gausman also pitched eight innings of shutout ball for the team. The Lower Haighters didn’t pitch well to open the playoffs but they won with sheer volume. The team pitched 63.1 innings, earned five quality starts and a pair of net saves/holds. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton were the team’s most effective starters while Edwin Diaz pitched two scoreless innings in relief.
Hitting: Outfielder Khris Davis was the key player at the plate as Land Shark upset High Cheese in the first round of the playoffs. Davis led the team with a 1.571 OPS, drove in a team-high 13 RBI, and scored nine runs. No other Land Shark player had more than three RBI in the first round series. Paul Goldschmidt scored seven runs and finished with a team-high three net stolen bases for Land Shark. Ryan Braun was the lone hitter for the Lower Haighters to top 1.000 OPS. Braun finished the week at 1.023 and led the team with six RBI and four runs scored. First baseman Eric Hosmer finished with a .339 OPS in 27 plate appearances.
Marin Menehunes vs Warning Track Power
Making their first playoff appearance under General Manager Elizabeth Gravely, the Menehunes pulled one of the biggest upsets in league history. Their 7-3-2 victory bounced No. 1 seed Bacon at Mile 11 out of the championship bracket. The victory was keyed by a lockdown bullpen and the hot hitting of young shortstop Marcus Semien. Now they’ll face West Division rival Warning Track Power. The No. 3 seed easily dispatched the JetSetters 8-3-1 and are now the favorite to win the league championship. The Menehunes and Warning Track Power split their four regular meetings this season.
Pitching: Warning Track Power advanced to the Championship Semifinals thanks to the pitching of Kyle Hendricks and Zach Britton, the league’s top reliever. Britton had all four of the team’s net saves/holds in the first round of the playoffs and he did so without giving up a run. Hendricks had a pair of quality starts, posting a 1.93 ERA and 0.64 WHIP in 14 innings. The Menehunes won five of the six pitching categories against Bacon to open the playoffs as relievers Steve Cishek and Francisco Rodriguez combined to pitch 4.2 scoreless innings and record five net saves/holds. Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer earned the team’s only two quality starts.
Hitting: Kendrys Morales led Warning Track Power with seven RBI to open the playoffs while Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera each had a pair of stolen bases. It was far from a dominating performance, the team finished with a .714 OPS, but they won four categories and supported their dominating pitching staff. If there were men on base last week, Semien was going to drive them in for the Menehunes. He led the team with 14 RBI. Odubel Herrera led the team with a 1.312 OPS, seven runs scored, and a pair of stolen bases.
JetSetters vs Bacon at Mile 11
For the second time in the last three seasons, Bacon at Mile 11 has lost in the first round of the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Both losses came to West Division teams. Unlike 2014, when Bacon was narrowly edged by A-Rod’s Mirrors, this year’s first-round loss was a 7-3-2 undressing by the Marin Menehunes. The Menehunes won five of the six pitching categories to take the series. The JetSetters were also not competitive in the first round of the playoffs, losing 8-3-1 to Warning Track Power. Unlike Bacon, however, the JetSetters weren’t favored to win the championship. When these teams played in Week 3, Bacon easily defeated the JetSetters 9-2-1.
Pitching: Danny Duffy and Alex Reyes had the three quality starts for the JetSetters last week. Duffy had two quality starts with a 3.77 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Alex Colome and Luke Gregerson each had two net holds/saves. The pitching staff let Bacon down to open the playoffs. Eduardo Rodriguez (15.43 ERA), Tony Cingrani (27.00 ERA) and Ryan Madson (16.20 ERA) all delivered clunkers. Chris Archer and Jon Gray had the team’s only two quality starts while Jason Grilli and Tony Watson combined for four of the team’s five net saves/holds.
Hitting: Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu led the JetSetters last week with a 1.060 OPS, six RBI and six runs scored. Outside of LeMaheiu and Joey Votto, the JetSetters did not hit well, finishing the week with a .655 OPS. George Springer and Jake Lamb combined to strikeout 19 times in 59 plate appearances. Bacon didn’t have a bad week at the plate last week, they just ran into a hot team. They finished with an .803 OPS and scored 34 runs. Rookie second baseman Trea Turner led Bacon with a 1.405 OPS and eight runs scored while third baseman Nolan Arenado knocked in five.
High Cheese vs Buster Hugs
This is not where High Cheese expected to be at this point in the playoffs. The No. 2 seed was unceremoniously bounced to the consolation bracket following a 9-3 upset by Land Shark. The bullpen did not pitch well while Addison Russell and Ian Desmond both struggled at the plate. Buster Hugs lost to the No. 4 seed Lower Haighters in a series that ended in a 6-6 tie. One more quality start, net save/hold, or two fewer strikeouts and they would have advanced. Santiago Casilla was a big problem in the bullpen for Buster Hugs while rookie catcher Gary Sanchez struck out 10 times.
Pitching: Madison Bumgarner, Ian Kennedy and Junior Guerrera all earned quality starts for Buster Hugs last week. Guerrera won’t pitch again this season, as he was shut down by the Brewers this week. Kenley Jansen was the only reliever to finish with a net save/hold for the team last week. Marcus Stroman posted a pair of quality starts to lead the High Cheese starting rotation last week. Jose Urena killed the team ERA and WHIP, giving up seven runs over two innings in his lone start. He allowed five earned runs before recording his first out.
Hitting: Infielder Jean Segura was Buster Hugs’ top hitter in the first round of the playoffs. Segura led the team in OPS (1.455), RBI (8) and Runs (8). Miguel Sano battled a sore back last week, finishing with just three plate appearances. First baseman Freddie Freeman was the only High Cheese hitter to post a 1.000+ OPS last week. Freeman finished with a 1.198 OPS, six RBI, and four runs scored. Outfielder Randal Grichuk struck out 10 times in 24 plate appearances in the team’s first round loss.