The Lakewood BlueClaws, the Phillies’ Low-A affiliate, secured a berth in the 2018 South Atlantic League playoffs by winning their division – sort of.
It’s only June but there is already playoff baseball to look forward to this season. The Lakewood BlueClaws secured a playoff berth over the weekend by clinching their division for the first half of the season. It will be a chance for several Phillies prospects to get a taste of the playoffs early in their professional career.
In several minor leagues, including the South Atlantic League, they hand out their playoff berths based on who wins their division before and after the league’s All-Star Break. Since many players are promoted or demoted around this time, teams can and often do look radically different.
Lakewood clinched the division on the last day of the first half of the season with a win over the Hickory Crawdads, bringing their record to 41-28. The BlueClaws still needed the Kannapolis Intimidators to lose Sunday in order to clinch the division. They got just that as the Greensboro Grasshoppers handed the Intimatadors a 3-1 loss Sunday night, handing Lakewood the division.
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Just being in a position to win the division took quite a lot from the BlueClaws. They rattled off seven wins in nine games and 10 in 15 to climb up the standings and secure first place. They now have a berth no matter what happens in the second half.
Lakewood has ridden a ridiculously good rotation so far this year. Two of their starters, Will Stewart and Ramon Rosso, will be in the All-Star Game.
Three Lakewood starters, David Parkinson, Stewart, and Rosso, hold the three best ERAs in the SAL. Another one of their starters, Damon Jones, ranks eighth with a 2.05 ERA.
As a whole, Lakewood has thrown 15 shutouts, six more than the next-best team. They rank first in ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.13), strikeouts (653), and hits allowed (476).
The pitching has made up for a below-average offense. The team has a .241 batting average and league-worst .665 OPS. Their 248 runs scored are also fewest in the league.
Jake Scheiner has been carrying much of the weight for Lakewood on his way to the SAL All-Star Game. He leads the team in both home runs (eight) and runs batted in (27). Nick Maton was the other BlueClaw named to the All-Star Game. The No. 30 overall prospect has five home runs and a solid.266/.322/.415 line in 58 games.
While the major-league team will be fighting for a potential playoff spot in September, Lakewood will be actually in the playoffs looking for their fourth league title.