Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Big Biscuits v Generals Playoff Preview

The second half North Division Champion Montgomery Biscuits head to Jackson Tn to face the Southern League first half champion Jackson Generals on Wednesday at 6pm.

The Generals pretty much owned the Biscuits in head to head contests this summer, but Bradys Boys think its time the Gens paid the piper. Both teams must have fresh memories of the most recent series that resulted in Jackson earning a sweep over the Skitz.

General Sparky Lyle
If the Generals can take three of five in the first round, there isn't much left for Montgomery to do but tip their cap and call the Generals their daddy.

On the other side, beating the Generals in the first round would free the Biscuits from the monkey that has been on their back all summer and give them the upper hand towards the league title.

However, there is much more than just a rematch coming.

This series both teams have a secret weapon or two to deploy, so lets take a look in the files....

For the Generals, its a rehabbing Major Leaguer in catcher/DH Steve Clevenger.

A reliable backstop and solid lefty power bat in the lineup, Clev played for the Smokies off and on back in 2008-2011.

Since that summer he became a regular backup for the Cubs before being dealt to Baltimore in the Arrieta trade. He was then swapped from the O's to the M's for Trumbo and former Biscuit CJ Riefenhauser.

The Clev was batting .221 with one homer in 22 games with the Mariners when a broken finger sent him to the shelf. Steve went 3-for-4 with Jackson on Monday in his first rehab game. He has a .307 career batting average at double-A, however its been five years since he was at this level.

Steve Clevenger is a friend of mine, one I will be glad to see but not to face in such a big series. I'm probably not alone, the Maryland product knows lots of people from his southern league time as well as having attended Chipola College in FL.


Wood in #2 Biscuits livery
For the Biscuits, Hunter Wood provides a strong weapon that wasn't available during the last series against the Gens.

Wood has faced the Generals though, beating them in his first double-A start on June 2nd.

number nine...
Wood has worn #2 on his uniform since arriving back from the DL. He wore number nine before his injury, an unusual sight - a pitcher in a single digit jersey. I need to ask him why he chooses the single number for his uni.

However, many golfers know that using the even-numbered wood effectively is a winning strategy.

Justin O'Conner gets back to baseball
Another surprise in store for the Generals will be behind the plate, where Justin O'Conner lurks with his 80/80 throwing ability. Where the Generals may have Steve Clevenger, the Biscuits counter with Justin O'Conner.

The Gens have not seen O'Conner this season and the prospect catcher has been heating up over the last ten days.

Justin used the last game of the year to hit his first homer, not content with having a zero on the back of his baseball card next spring.

The announced rotation is Hu, Honeywell, Kirsch, Wood, Guerrieri. The back end of the rotation could shift, depending on how Mgr Brady Williams feels the matchups dictate.

Chih-Wei Hu
Chih-Wei Hu takes the ball for game one.
Hu has had two starts against the Generals, I would have thought there more but perhaps Chih-wei missed them when he went to the Futures Game.

Hu's two games vs JXN resulted in two losses and two ejections.

His first game vs the Gens was in June, the second in August and both times Hu was tossed for letting his opinions of the officials be known. And for hitting a batter after a home run, but both times the pitches were breaking balls.

Both times Brady Williams agreed with Hu and followed him to an early exit, the second time leaving his mark on the field by emptying the bats and balls from the Montgomery dugout in a classic tirade.
The one game I spent sitting in centerfield this summer!

Pitcher Brent Honeywell has also faced Jackson twice this year, taking a no decision and a loss in spite of allowing just three runs combined in those games. Brent is the announced starter for game two and will take the hill on Thursday against Brett Ash.

rhp Taylor Guerrieri
Taylor Guerrieri takes the ball in either game three or five and hopes it will be "the important one at home".

Unlike several current Biscuits who won a flag with the Crabs in 2014, Taylor has yet to win a league pennant, having TJ that season he missed out. And he wants one now, real bad.

rhp Jeff Ames
Reliever Jeff Ames, hit by a comebacker in the last inning of the last game of the regular season, will miss the postseason with a broken bone in the forearm/wrist area of his right (throwing) arm.

"Probably broken" is what I was told after the game, but I was close enough to see the seam marks on his arm and it looked like a fracture to me. Displaced or non-displaced, it will keep the righthander from throwing his wicked cutter during the playoffs. Noone has told me this, but it doesn't take a crystal ball after seeing the play.

Steve Ascher
Fan favorite Steve Ascher will return to the Biscuits bullpen for the playoffs, filling the roster spot left open by the injury to Ames.

Getting Steve Ascher gives Brady a third lefthander to go to when he wants to mix and match late in games. Ascher was part of the Biscuits combined no-hitter this season, starting the historic game for Montgomery against the Jackson Generals.

Chase Whitley was indeed recalled to Tampa, ending the six man rotation that pushed the Skitz into the playoffs.

Chase was brilliant with Montgomery until his last start when the wheels fell off, the doors came apart at the hinges and the remaining pieces of the car dropped off with the rest in one single brutal frame (tip cap to chris coleman). Other than that one inning, Whitley was excellent!

Now occupying Whitleys spot on the roster is lefty reliever Jordan Harrison, who was activated on the last day of the season.

Harry was also involved in the combined no-hitter. I noticed the lefty Harrison back in uniform and playing catch with fellow southpaw Kyle Bird before a game this weekend. I tell ya, just watching the two port-side sidearm hurlers soft toss the ball back and forth made my own elbow hurt!

Mortensen Monday
Jared Mortensen handled his spot start assignment on Monday with ease, tossing five shutout innings with three punch outs and just one walk in the final regular season match. The breezy conditions may have helped the flutterball action, Morty worked his magic and stranded base-runners in critical situations.

Kean Wong says his hand is "feeling better" but there is no word yet on his status for game one. It is expected he will remain active on the roster in hopes he can get into the series at some point.


Biscuit fans wanting to tune in on to see their team on the road will have to look for just a two-camera view.

One centerfield camera is stationary, the other is located behind the net and appears to be about four stories above the field. The view is square, as though looking through a four-inch square hole cut in the wall like an old time knothole gang!

The net camera moves sometimes, but is most active in between innings when it pans to the on-field promotion.

Fear not, we can do it!
During the gameplay, one usually gets a view of the pitcher and area around home plate. However when the ball is hit, the view is often of the catcher and home ump watching the play develop. The announcer tells you what happened, but you have to take his word for it!

Also look for the crowd to show up dressed as empty seats. Anyone wishing to enter a witness protection program is still able to enjoy a ballgame at Jackson since the cameras only show one small section of the seats.

In the first game, look for Chih-Wei Hu to dispel the demons that plague him in Generals uniforms. Pitching on long rest, Hu should have the upper hand against a team that has struggled to get hits in the past month.

Look for Brady Williams to go to the pen early if Hu falters, taking the first game is a big advantage in the series.

Tyler O'Neil
Look for Tyler O'Neil of Jackson to try to carry the Generals team. After losing out on the triple crown he could be eyeing the postseason MVP as a nice consolation prize. The slugger is capable of putting a team on his back.

The Biscuits will be looking to use small ball as well as the long ball. Although among the leaders in homers, Montgomery manager Brady Williams isn't afraid to play for one run.

Look for Querecuto at second base if Kean Wong can't play, Brady loves the switch hitter at or near the top of the batting order.

Gens game 1 starter Andrew Moore shut out Montgomery the last time he faced them, but has allowed multiple runs in four of his last six outings. The Biscuits look to make it five of seven.

Look for Sergio Pedroza. In a playoff series the game-changer is often an unexpected player. Sergio turned around a 9th inning fastball in Huntsville in 2007 and brought home the league pennant with the circuit clout.

2007 Montgomery Biscuits, Southern League Champions

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