They will be opposed by a Sidewinders team that posted ten more regular season wins, but that has also lost more players to the big league club. Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Miguel Montero, Chris Young, Edgar and Enrique Gonzalez, Doug Slaten, and Randy Choate were key contributors to the Sidewinders' 91-win season, but none of them will be able to help the team in the playoffs.
Tucson will therefore rely heavily on the 1-2 punch of Micah Owings and Mike Bacsik, a duo that combined to go 21-0 with a 3.25 ERA for the Sidewinders. In a five game series, Owings could pitch twice if necessary, but it is more likely that PCL Manager of the Year Chip Hale will give a vote of confidence to Dustin Nippert (13-8 4.87), Adam Bass (9-4 4.76), and the newly-acquired Evan MacLane (10-8 3.83).
Even using this five man rotation, Tucson's pitching still looks much stronger than Salt Lake's. The question is whether it will be good enough to quiet their bats. Also, a lot of pressure will be put on catchers Robby Hammock and Juan Brito. The Bees stole nearly twice as many bases as the Sidewinders did this season, and coming in as underdogs, Salt Lake may elect to play extremely aggressive ball.
Offensively, the onus is on Alberto Callaspo to continue to set the table as he did all year, having led the PCL in base knocks. Chris Carter, Brian Barden, and Scott Hairston must be the run producers now that the rest of this league-leading offense has been promoted to the major league level.
The series begins Wednesday night, as Kasey Olenberger (7-5 5.10) faces off against Owings (10-0 3.70). The winner of the series will face either the Nashville Sounds (Brewers) or the Round Rock Express (Astros).
Read more from Keith Glab at BaseballEvolution.com