CCW Playoff Preview
By Brendan Dudas
The bottom 3 teams (Shorts, Pistols, Yakkers) will play a round robin tournament on Wednesday, August 3rd. The winner of the round robin tournament will advance to Sunday’s (August 7th) tournament where the top 3 teams (8 Balls, Hounds, Shots) await. The tournament will operate as a double elimination tournament up until the championship round. The 2 finalists will advance to the Dirtyard Classic on Sunday, August 14th. A best of 3 series will determine the 2022 CCW Champion.
Team Pre(and Re)views
8 Balls (11-5)
The 8 Balls lead CCW in team ERA and team OPS - a rare combo that hasn’t happened since the Short Shorts (Sand Gnats) in 2016. Mike Speek’s Lasso-esque motivation skills, Taylor Carpenter’s development and the winning lottery ticket that is Austin Alles have all come together to form the perfect storm. You have to be pretty nitpicky to find any weaknesses with the 8 Balls, but every team has their flaws. One, their defense is questionable when Carpenter is on the mound. The absence of Speek only hurts that. Two, Carpenter probably ranks 4th (behind Smithey, Werner and Sprinkle) when it comes to the league’s true shutdown aces.
X-Factor: Mike Speek - Senior isn’t even playoff eligible, but anybody that’s been to the Dirtyard this year knows that the 8 Balls are an entirely different team with him present than when he’s not. A championship run will require his focus, motivation and Moonshine Cherries.
The Hounds began 2022 on fire, winning 6 of their first 7 games. However, the offense was struggling and their wins were coming in close, low scoring games. This is not a team that will succeed by trying to outslug opponents, and an 0-4 (-32) record against the 8 Balls definitely spells trouble. However, with a 1-2 punch of Sprinkle and Du. Dowden, the Hounds will find themselves in a spot to win every game.
X-Factor: Dustin Dowden - Dustin has been the best number 2 pitcher in CCW this year, but his slugging has dropped almost 120 points compared to 2021. In order for the Hounds to have playoff success, they’ll need Dowden to provide some much-needed pop behind Dylan Jones.
Will Smithey has done Will Smithey things again in 2022. The league’s defending MVP is tough to beat, but the Shots’ near-.500 record shows that they struggle without the ball in his hands. Behind Smithey, Blake Voris has shown an awesome return to form at the plate and Myc Witty has broken out in a huge way. The defending champs have the MVP, elite defense and veterans all over. If Smithey can win his matchups and they can steal a win during a non-Smithey start, they’ll have a great chance to upgrade their title to “Back To Back Champs”.
X-Factor: Myc Witty - Witty has been lights out in his last 2 starts (10 IP, 2 W, 2 ER, 16 K). As mentioned above, the Shots are going to lean on Smithey to win the “Game 1s”, but if Witty continues this run, they’ll have the best playoff pitching duo in the league.
Short Shorts (7-8)
There’s no better representation of this Shorts team than last Sunday’s games: a 2-1 victory over Smithey & the Shots, followed by a 15-0 beatdown delivered by Werner and the Pistols. If everything goes the Shorts’ way, it seems that their ceiling is up there with some of the better teams in the league (4 of 7 wins came against 8 Balls and Moon Shots). However, when Dudas, H. Palmer and A. Palmer are missing the board, their ceiling crumbles and they become the league’s bottom feeder.
X-Factor: The K-board - This 3-man staff doesn’t allow much contact on fast pitch strikes. However, they struggle with making contact with the board. The x-factor for the Shorts is simply their ability to throw strikes.
Pork Pistols (6-9)
Still one of my dark horse picks to make a run to the Dirtyard Classic, the Pistols can’t be counted out. Reid Werner hasn’t historically boasted the consistency on par with Will Smithey, but his stuff is miles ahead of the next best CCW pitcher. Offensively, this lineup is incredibly balanced (3 hitters have exactly 10 HR and 17 RBI) and will make you pay for missing the board and serving up lob pitches. Historically, this group has spent the regular season “feeling things out”, only to up the intensity for playoffs.
X-Factor: Dalton Lewis - In order to win Wednesday’s round robin (and compete on Sunday), DLewy has to keep the score close during his outings. This serves two purposes: keeps the run differential close in the event of a 3-way tie on Wednesday and allows the Pistols’ offense a chance to go win a game.
The Yakkers stumbled to an 0-7 start and turned in CCW’s worst team ERA and OPS - a double whammy combo that makes it really hard to win games. That being said, I was high on them in the preseason and still believe most of the players on this roster are better than their ‘22 statistical profiles. The Yakkers finished 4-3 and closed out the regular season with wins over the #1 and #2 teams. Momentum is such a large part of playoff success and the Yakkers have it on their side. Come Wednesday, it’s an entirely new season and a fresh slate.
X-Factor: Mitch Buis & Cade Luker - This is a team that relies heavily on being greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts have all been very hit or miss up to this point. For the Yakkers to get going, Mitch Buis has to deliver on the mound and Cade Luker has to be a spark plug at the plate. As a duo, the regular season needs to be left behind them and the focus turned toward winning Wednesday’s round robin.
More Players to Watch
Austin Alles & Taylor Carpenter - The teammates seem to be #1 and #2 in the Silver Slugger race. The 8 Balls will likely drop down to a 4-man lineup and this race likely won’t be finished until the dust settles at the Dirtyard Classic.
James Haworth - Haworth’s unorthodox style gives the Yakkers a much-needed injection of energy when he’s in the lineup. If he’s available, he immediately makes the Yakkers better.
Holden Palmer - Palmer (6 IP, 1 ER vs Moonshots) has turned it up in his recent outings, giving the Shorts an arm that they’ve desperately needed.
Evan Butz - If not for Austin Alles, we’d be talking more about Evan Butz’ (.415, 10 HR) incredible rookie campaign. Expect to see him in the lineup on Wednesday.
Jake Sprinkle & Quinn Cloghessy - The Hounds only have 5 players eligible for the playoffs. Neither of these players accrued full-time hitting stats, but one of them will find themselves in the lineup for playoffs.
Blake Voris - As teams begin to use their 3 IBBs to pitch around Will Smithey, Voris (.459, 7 HR) will be counted on to make those teams pay.
Dirtyard Classic: 8 Balls over Moonshots
Playoff MVP: Austin Alles
Wednesday Round Robin Winner: Pork Pistols
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These articles are written by the talented members of the Dirtyard Dish content team.