Pitching may give Revs deciding edge
A few weeks ago, Andy Etchebarren sat at the desk in his office with a smile beaming from ear to ear.
The York Revolution had just beaten the Camden Riversharks with a walk-off three-run home run from Ramon Castro to move five games up on the Lancaster Barnstormers for first place in the Atlantic League Freedom Division second-half race.
But that wasn’t the reason the Revs’ manager was smiling.
Rather, Etchebarren was excited about something else — he was working on deals to acquire three pitchers who he believed would help the team toward its run to the playoffs.
At the time, Etchebarren couldn’t give any information or names on who the players might be because the deals weren’t official yet. But he proved to be right on the success he expected of the pitchers, who turned out to be starters Nick Schumacher and Jino Gonzalez and reliever Justin Edwards.
Edwards (1-1, 3.27 ERA) has improved the bullpen, while Schumacher (2-1, 4.15 ERA) and Gonzalez (2-1, 4.30 ERA) have solidified York’s starting rotation, joining right-handers Corey Thurman (13-3, 3.33 ERA), Lorenzo Barcelo (5-0, 3.96 ERA), and Shaun Garceau (4-9, 5.45 ERA).
Heading into the upcoming Atlantic League Freedom Division Championship Series between York and Lancaster, it appears the Revs have the advantage — on paper, anyway — when it comes to pitching.
The series will mark the first postseason showdown between Lancaster and York, which can only add to the history of the War of the Roses, and to the battle for Freedom Division supremacy the clubs have been embroiled in this season.
Lancaster (69-56) won the first-half division title by a game over the Revs. York (73-51) beat out Lancaster down the stretch to capture the second-half division title by 51/2 games.
The clubs have also traded the Community Cup each season since York brought back minor league baseball in 2007.
Lancaster won the Community Cup earlier this season by winning 10 of the 18 regular-season match-ups. But York outscored Lancaster in the series, 94-89. Seven of those games were decided by two runs or less.
Looking at the offensive numbers, York’s .290 team batting average this season is just four percentage points ahead of Lancaster. And Lancaster’s 1,229 total hits this season is just two ahead of York. The teams being just about even on offense should put the focus even more on the importance of pitching.
Fortunately for York, things look good on that front. York’s 4.32 team ERA and opposing teams’ .268 batting average each rank third in the league behind Southern Maryland and Long Island.
Lancaster’s league pitching rankings, meanwhile, are underwhelming. The Barnstormers have a team ERA of 4.72 (sixth), allowed opposing teams to hit .278 (seventh) and surrendered 1,222 hits (last).
Then again, all of those numbers could be diluted. Since Lancaster won the first-half Freedom Division title, it had the opportunity to cruise through the second half of the season without having to worry about a playoff berth.
For now, the Revs have the upper hand on paper. But to use the cliched saying, that’s why they play the game.