Roster: Jared Laird, Adam Milsted, Dan Potter
Playing Out Of: York, Pennsylvania
2018 MAW Record: 8-15
Signature Wins: vs. Longballs 6-3 (5/5); vs. Lemon Heads 1-0 (8/4)
Versus Championship Tournament Teams: 4-9
First Game: vs. Longballs
Why They Will Win It All: No trio on any other playoff team hit as many regular season home runs (16) as Laird (4), Milsted (4), and Potter (8). If those three are clicking on all cylinders offensively, they can make up for any pitching deficiencies the Yaks may have in the Championship Tournament. Any lineup that affords Potter an opportunity to hit at least once per inning is a potentially dangerous one. He is one of a few hitters in this tournament who can single-handedly take over with his bat. The Yaks’ 3-man offense has the potential to score runs in droves if everyone is locked in. That production could allow them to shorten a game or two by mercy rule and/or give Milsted a breather after getting out to a big lead.
Jared Laird had a sneakily solid season on the carpet, posting a 4.46 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. It is conceivable that the Yaks could squeeze a win out of Laird, which would take some pressure off Milsted. On August 4th, Milsted threw 15 shutout innings against a pair of playoff teams – Barrel Bruisers and Lemon Heads – and a quality Shortballs squad. Based off that single tournament performance, it is fair to assume that – on a really good day – Adam might have 20-ish quality innings in his arm, which might be just enough to help his team to the finish line if he gets an assist from Laird.
Perhaps most importantly, the veteran Yaks have become quite adept at finding ways to sneak into the later rounds of tournaments while still leaving bullets in the chamber for later. The Yaks don’t care how they survive, as long as they do. While other teams in the Championship Tournament might be tempted to shift into high gear in their very first game, the Yaks have demonstrated a willingness and ability to hold back early so that they can still put their best foot forward in elimination games. That experience could prove especially useful under this tournament format.
Why They Won’t: The absence of Jarod Bull might be too big for the Yaks to overcome. If the Yaks had Bull, it would be relatively easy to chart a path to the finals for the hometown team. Without two top tier pitchers, it is far more difficult to see how Yaks will reach the championship series. Even if Laird gives the Yaks two quality games – which might be asking a lot – the team would still need at least four big performances form Milsted. In addition, the Yaks will be without team captain Nick Shirey, who is currently recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. The absence of Shirey deprives the team of one of their biggest on base threats. All told, there is a good chance the Yaks will run out of pitching at some point during the day and finish short of the finals.