In finishing up text for August’s edition of Minor League Monthly, it dawned on us that the end of the regular season is rapidly approaching for all of the Yankees’ Minor League affiliates. We will be providing some coverage of the Baby Bombers’ post-season exploits this fall, and with just about two weeks to go in the MiLB regular season, here’s a primer on what you might have to look forward to:
TRIPLE-A: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are 75-56 and lead the IL North Division by five games over Pawtucket with 13 games to go. Their “magic number” is 9, and their season ends with a four-game set at Pawtucket over Labor Day Weekend.
If they advance to the IL Playoffs – which would be a huge accomplishment given that they haven’t played a true home game all year – they will encounter a format rather similar to MLB’s. Three division winners and one Wild Card reach the postseason, with all three series (including the Governor’s Cup finals) contested in a best-of-five format; in addition, the IL champion will play the winner of the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 18 in Durham, NC.
DOUBLE-A: The Trenton Thunder are 73-55 and lead the EL Eastern Division by five games over New Britain and six over Reading with 14 to go. Their season also ends on Labor Day.
In the EL, the top two teams in each division (for a total of four) make the postseason, with the divisional round pitting each division winner vs. their runner-up and the ELCS then pitting the two winners. All three series are best-of-five, with the division champions hosting Games 3-5 in the first round, and because the Eastern Division has home-field advantage in the EL Championship Series in even-numbered years, Trenton would host Games 3-5 of that series if they advance.
CLASS-A ADVANCED: The Tampa Yankees are 31-23 in the second half and lead the FSL North Division by 1.5 games over Lakeland and 2 over Dunedin with 13 games to go; they will finish on September 2, and have six games with Dunedin and four with Lakeland in their final 13.
In the FSL, the season is split into two halves, with the winners from each division in each half advancing to the playoffs; should the same team win both halves (which, in the FSL North, would be first-half champ Dunedin), then the team with the next best overall record would qualify as their first-round opponent. The first round is a best-of-three “Division Series,” with the winners advancing to the best-of-five FSL Championship Series. Should Tampa reach the post-season, they would host Game 1 against Dunedin, and because the North Division has home field advantage for the 2012 FSLCS, they would host Games 3-5 of the finals.
CLASS-A: The Charleston RiverDogs are currently 23-33 in the SAL second half, 12.5 games behind Southern Division leader Rome with 13 to play. The SAL playoffs are contested under a similar format as the FSL, and as Charleston finished third in the South in the first half, it is all but certain that their year will be over when the regular season concludes on Labor Day.
SHORT-SEASON CLASS-A: The Staten Island Yankees are 19-40 and in last place in the NYPL McNamara Division, 20.5 games behind leader Hudson Valley. They have already been eliminated from playoff contention, and will conclude their season on September 5. For those curious, the NYPL Playoffs feature the same structure as the IL, only their three series are contested in a best-of-three format.
ROOKIE BALL: Entering Tuesday, the GCL Yankees were 32-23 and in third place in the GCL North Division, two games behind the co-leading Tigers and Pirates (in both the division and the wild card standings) with five to play. They lost Tuesday to the GCL Phillies, but as they play both the Pirates and Tigers twice each in the final four games of the season, they could make up ground.
In the GCL, the three division winners and one wild card reach the postseason. The first round is a one-game playoff, with the two winners meeting in a best-of-three series for the GCL Championship. The higher-seeded team hosts the one-game playoff and Games 1 and 3 (if necessary) of the GCLCS.