The 2014 Midwest League Championship Series begins Wednesday evening with the Kane County Cougars hosting the Lake County Captains at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The Cougars are the favorite to win after finishing the season with the best record in Minor League Baseball (91-49). The Chicago Cubs affiliate finished with the best record in the Midwest League in both halves of the season (45-25 in first half, 46-24 in second half).
Regardless of Kane County’s impressive record, the Captains can’t be counted out. After finishing the first half with the worst record in the 16-team Midwest League (27-43), Lake County turned things around and finished with a 38-31 record in the second half (65-74 overall). Including the playoffs, the Cleveland Indians affiliate has won 21 of its last 28 games.
Both teams are 4-0 in the playoffs. The Cougars swept the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Captains swept the South Bend Silver Hawks and the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
During the regular season, the Cougars swept the Captains in their three-game series at Kane County from April 11-13. Of course, that was five months ago when the Captains weren’t playing as well as they are now.
The best-of-five championship series starts at Kane County, with games on Wednesday and Thursday. The series moves to Lake County on Saturday, with additional games played on Sunday and Monday if necessary. All games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.
Here are the projected starting pitchers for the championship series, with their regular-season MWL statistics in parentheses:
Game 1 (at Kane County): Cougars RHP Jen-Ho-Tseng (6-1, 2.40 ERA, 85 Ks in 105 IP) vs. Captains RHP Mitch Brown (8-8, 3.31 ERA, 127 Ks in 138.2 IP)
Game 2 (at Kane County): Cougars RHP Duane Underwood (6-4, 2.50 ERA, 84 Ks in 100.2 IP) vs. Captains RHP Jordan Milbrath (3-12, 3.95 ERA, 77 Ks in 125.1 IP)
Game 3 (at Lake County): Captains LHP Anderson Polanco (3-0, 1.95 ERA, 62 Ks in 50.2 IP) vs. Cougars RHP Daury Torrez (11-7, 2.74 ERA, 81 Ks in 131.1 IP)
Game 4 (at Lake County, if necessary): Captains LHP Luis Lugo (10-9, 4.92 ERA, 146 Ks in 126.1 IP) vs. Cougars RHP Paul Blackburn (9-4, 3.23 ERA, 75 Ks in 117 IP)
Game 5 (at Lake County, if necessary): Captains pitcher TBD vs. Cougars RHP Ben Wells (4-0, 2.23 ERA, 20 Ks in 36.1 IP)