ABL Week Three: it's still too early

AJ Mithen

29 November 2018

 

Whose season is rolling along nicely? Who’s struggling? It’s still too early to say and there’s danger in getting sucked in by the scoreboard after just two rounds. Plenty have, but there’s enough grey area around the performance of all eight teams to this point.

 

Everyone’s still finding their feet, admittedly in Perth’s case their feet were crossing home plate after scoring a hatful of runs in Geelong.

 

Having said that, each series in Australian Baseball League Week Three has implications for each club’s intentions. Canberra or Auckland could find themselves a ways off the top two of the North East Division. Adelaide will pose a stiff challenge for a Perth team who coasted through two weeks against the new clubs. Melbourne need to take the initiative against Geelong Korea and Sydney have a lot to play for against Brisbane.

 

Plenty has been said about the streaming quality and availability during the first fortnight so I won’t go into it again now. Without the ability to speedily update their own websites, clubs focus on their social media channels to drive engagement and provide us with online content like videos, podcasts and the like.

 

There’s some good stuff out there too, with plenty of interviews, highlights and game footage we can’t access through the games broadcast (if there is one).

 

Can I just ask one thing? Could all clubs have someone who does a quality check before hitting go on a post or tweet? Cos there’s some horrid typos going on out there…

 

It’s a great weekend of baseball ahead and if you can get out to a game, do so. Now let’s get down to some predicting!

 

We’re keen to get your thoughts on ABL week three. Let us know on the Australian Baseball Alumni FACEBOOK page. To debate these previews, make suggestions or to offer information, visit @AJMithen on Twitter. For definitive ABL broadcast information, check the official ABL website.

 

BRISBANE BANDITS versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (Holloway Field)

 

Game 1:   Friday 6.00 pm local time  (Forecast weather: 29, sunny)            BANDITS TV

Game 2:   Saturday 2.30 pm local time (29, sunny)                                         BANDITS TV

Game 3:   Saturday 6.00pm local time (29, sunny)                                         BANDITS TV                       

Game 4:   Sunday 2.00 pm local time (33, sunny)                    ABLTV/BANDITS TV/FOXSPORTS.COM.AU

 

This is a critical series for both teams. Brisbane took two unexpected losses in Auckland in a rain interrupted weekend and they’ll want to get back on track against a Blue Sox team coming off a belting from the previously winless Canberra.

 

Sydney came crashing back to earth against their rivals from the capital and Tony Harris and crew would be seething that they all but handed back their hot start to the season.

 

Although they dropped two of three in New Zealand the Bandits won’t be panicking, because champion teams don’t worry about slight setbacks in round two. They understand the bigger picture.

 

Ryan Searle is moving back to the bullpen after two tough starts. Some call it a demotion, some call it a trial that didn’t work… I call it bad news for Sydney if they’re chasing the game.

 

Prediction: Split

 

I’m giving Sydney the benefit of the doubt that they’ll go after Brisbane hard and get a split result. It’s only week three and we don’t write teams off too early, but goodness me the Blue Sox have some walk to walk after a lot of talk was talked.

  

MELBOURNE ACES versus GEELONG-KOREA (Melbourne Ballpark)

 

Game 1:   Thursday 7.00 pm local time (20, possible shower)                ABLTV

Game 2:   Friday 7.00p m local time (21, sunny)                                       ABLTV/FOXSPORTS.COM.AU

Game 3:   Saturday 7.00 pm local time (30, sunny)                                 ABLTV

Game 4:   Sunday 1.00 pm local time (21, showers)                                 ABLTV

 

Breaking: Geelong Korea Manager Dae-Sung Koo was suspended for one game late on Wednesday for his actions in taking the team off the field in Sydney during Round One.

 

The Aces will have designs on a boost for the win column after an away split in Adelaide, but Dae-Sung Koo’s squad will be keen to show last weekend isn’t how they’ll be doing business in season 18/19.

 

The scorebooks don’t look good for Geelong but from what I’ve seen, they hold their own for the most part. Their problem is that when things go wrong, they go wrong in a big, big way.

 

They’ve conceded 72 runs in eight games and 34 of those have been scored in seven disastrous innings sprinkled across their season so far.

 

It’s also interesting that Geelong Korea rank third for hits, behind Perth and Sydney who funnily enough are the two teams Geelong Korea has played.

 

GK added veteran KBO hitter Choi Joon-suk this week, a big big man who you can guarantee will deliver some entertainment for the fans. His bat flip has made waves all over the world and it comes no matter what - homeruns, RBI singles, fly outs to shallow centre field, even hefty foul balls:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choi is joined by former KBO players Woo Dong-gyun (outfielder) and Heo Geon-yeop (pitcher) who should suit up the team this week.

 

Outfielder Kwang-Min Kwong is delivering on his promise. The 20-year old is quick, hits well with power and hopefully will bring his team more runs working with third baseman Seung-Hun Kim.

 

Prediction: Aces win

 

Melbourne has the pitching and the hitting to keep Geelong off balance but as they work into the season, the team from sleepy hollow will get better and better.

 

PERTH HEAT versus ADELAIDE BITE (West Beach)

 

Game 1:   Thursday 7.20 pm local time (23, clearing)                      ABLTV/FOXSPORTS.COM.AU

Game 2:   Friday 7.20 pm local time (25, sunny)

Game 3:   Saturday 7.20 pm local time (31, possible shower)

Game 4:   Sunday 12.00 pm local time (21, cloudy)

 

Perth face Adelaide after two series wins against the ABL’s new kids. They’re hitting everything and anything but it will be interesting to see how they handle Bite starter Markus Solbach.

 

Solbach has tied down the champion Bandits and Melbourne’s potent lineup to start the year, allowing just six hits and striking out 16 in 13.2 innings. If Perth want this series win they’ll have to find a way to break the German’s spell. 

 

Adelaide’s two Mikes, Michael Gettys and Mikey Reynolds have also proven to be astute additions. Both are swinging hot bats and I did enjoy the postgame interview after Gettys took the Aces for three home runs on Sunday. When asked if he’d ever done that before, he said “yeah, a couple of years ago”.

 

There’s not much you can say about Perth after their weekend of destruction in Geelong. Batting averages were bumped and many, many long balls were hit but that damage was done on Saturday. They lost the Friday game and on Sunday had to rely on two huge bombs from Alex Hall and Carl Chester to get clear after a tight first few innings. The Heat shouldn’t be rolling into Adelaide expecting a walk in the park.

 

Prediction: Perth win

 

It’s all about momentum and Perth have it. It won’t be easy against a Bite side who are feeling good after splitting with Melbourne, but the Heat can set themselves up nicely. The weather seems ok as well, so hopefully some decent crowds will turn out.

 

AUCKLAND TUATARA versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (McLeod Park)

 

Game 1:  Friday 3.00 pm local time (1.00pm AEDST)            (21, rain)                                                         

Game 2:  Saturday 12.00 pm local time (10.00am AEDST) (19, showers)   ABLTV/FOXSPORTS.COM.AU

Game 3:  Saturday 3.00 pm local time (1.00pm AEDST) (19, showers)      ABLTV/FOXSPORTS.COM.AU

Game 4:  Sunday 3.00 pm local time (1.00pm AEDST) (22, partly sunny)

 

The Tuatara welcome last season’s runners up having dealt with last season’s champions.

 

Auckland took the game to Brisbane with strong starting pitching and timely hitting, baseball’s surefire recipe for success. Kyle Glogoski was again untouchable (and now 40% through his allocated workload for the season), Jimmy Boyce threw well and Atsuki Taneich worked well with Josh Collmenter.

 

For the Cavalrymen Steve Kent is one of the hottest arms in the ABL, carrying back to last year’s playoffs. He’s only walked two batters and given up two runs in 11 innings of work.

 

Shota Imanaga and Frank Gailey showed they are two of the better starters in the league and there’s going to be plenty of pressure on both bullpens to support their guns.

 

Runs may be at a premium with such quality pitching on both sides but for all the potency in the hitting, Auckland and Canberra have struggled so far. The visitors need more from old hands David Kandilas and Boss Moanaroa to complement import players Zach WIlson and Justin Lopez’s strong starts to the year.

 

Prediction: Split

 

Something has to give with the starting pitching and I’m backing Canberra’s bats to be able to break one of the Tuatara starters. On the flipside, I’ll take the Tuatara bats to get one or two past the Cavs’ bullpen.