On Monday the Biscuits clinched a postseason berth with a victory over Mobile. Its the third straight season Montgomery has earned a playoff spot, though we are promised just a single game due to the Lookouts winning the North Division in both halves of the season.
The on-field celebration was cheerful but a bit muted, as a second place team that earns a wildcard spot should be. High fives and hugs behind the mound were quick and classy, but you can be sure that the champagne was flowing in the clubhouse afterwards.
While Brady Williams has skippered the Skitz into three straight Septembers, can he overcome yet another juggernaut opponent in the division series? The Biscuits have been "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" in the postseason since their back to back championships ten years ago.
|2006 Biscuits celebrate playoff clinch on Longoria homer|
"What are the numbers for the Biscuits in the playoffs?" one Montgomery reliever asked me.
They ain't good lately, man. We have been pretty much shut down in each of our playoff appearances dating back to 2012. Even our one victory last year was a walk-off, Biscuits needing every inch of every inning to squeak out a single W.
|Biscuits celebrate playoff walkoff Sept 2016|
The Lookouts were our playoff opponent two years ago, handling us easily. Last year it was the Generals who were able to work around our lone win to advance. Now we face those Lookouts again, in what could be a deja-vu game for Skitz fans.
However, the players optimism has rubbed off on me a little. Montgomery may not be the team the Lookouts are expecting to see. It is almost an entirely different squad than the one that was swept at home by Chattanooga in June, knocking Montgomery out of playoff contention in the first half of this year.
That being said, both the Biscuits and Lookouts will be intimate with each others players and abilities when the SLDS starts. The two teams will play five meaningless games to finish the regular season before facing off in games that matter. I am hoping for a few rainouts in that series, so Brady Williams can save his best tricks and maybe hide the Biscuits strengths until playoff time.
And what are our best tricks?
Pitching, hitting and more pitching.
|Anthony 'Sciev - pronounced "shev"|
But its not just him, every Biscuits starter has looked better of late, turning up the heat just in time for the pennant race.
Each of the pitchers in the rotation Mujica, Cabrera, Moss, Sciev and Darnell have been hitting on all cylinders, giving the team a chance to win by pitching deep into games. They work fast, pitch to contact when needed, field their position well and have excellent stuff to work with.
|Brandon "Sweet&" Lowe|
Even the "B" team bench guys are better than most league regulars for other teams, simply put - Montgomery is stacked with bats.
A couple guys are setting franchise records, one guy is the MVP of a league he hasn't played in for three weeks, mid-season and postseason All Stars abound on a lineup that really knows how to share the load.
And more pitching.
Relievers have saved this team, holding late leads and keeping the score close even when trailing. Not to mention the 20+ starts relievers have made this season for Montgomery.
|MLB AllStar Johnny Venters brings veteran leadership and big league calm to the Biscuits bullpen|
PART OF THE DEBATE
The Biscuits will try to host their final regular season game Wednesday evening, weather permitting. Its been one of the strongest campaigns waged by the Montgomery squad, regardless of the final outcome when fans start debating which Biscuits team was best this 2017 club will have to be part of the conversation.
And kudos to the Tampa Rays for building a winner in Montgomery for the second half. I complain a lot about roster moves and promotions to Durham that hurt the Biscuits chances, but in the last couple months we have seen a nice flow of good players arrive to help the team.
HOW MANY WILL SEE IT?
Catcher Nick Ciuffo said he hoped the fans really turn out and asked me what I thought the crowd size would be for playoffs.
"I hope its packed out" he told me, but I tried to temper expectations.
"We aren't playing on Saturday, so thats a bonus" I replied, "but we still are up against high school football, so it could be a smallish crowd."
I followed up by telling him "Fans have seen us bounced from the first round two straight years, so get us past the Lookouts and then we might see a nice crowd."
Crowds in Montgomery like to support a winner but its just tough to draw fans to Biscuits games once football starts. Hopefully area fans turn out, because this could be the team that finally breaks through to the Championship Round. Its been ten years since Montgomery hosted the Southern League Championship Series (SLCS) so who knows how big it will be?
DR.MIRACULOUS PLAYOFF PREVIEW
COMING NEXT WEEK!