Docking With The Ports-Cal League Championship Preview

The Ports are in the ‘Ship! And so is the Lake Elsinore Storm. In this week’s Docking With The Ports, we break down the matchup and give you a preview of what to expect in the championship match. But first, here is an awesome video of last night’s celebration.

LAKE ELSINORE STORM

The Stockton Ports and Lake Elsinore Storm played just seven times in the regular season, with the Ports narrowly beating the Storm 4-3 in the season series. However the Ports have not faced the Storm since the first week of May. Since then, both teams have seen changes to their rosters.

Offensively, the Storm have been among the top teams all season. However, it has often been acknowledged that the environment in the south, particularly the wind, has a tendency to make the balls go farther off everyone’s bat.  However there are several players to keep an eye on when they step up to the plate:

Edinson Rincon: Rincon finished the season with the highest average on the team: a staggering .329 average with 24 doubles, eight home runs and 50 RBIs in just 74 games with the Storm.

Nathan Freiman: Freiman, 24, has been one of the most consistent offensive players in the California League this season. In 138 games with Lake Elsinore, the former Duke Blue Devil hit .288 with 81 runs scored, 35 doubles, four triples, 22 home runs, 111 RBI and six stolen bases in seven chances. Freiman was selected by the San Diego Padres in the eighth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Jeudy Valdez: Valdez is the only member of the Storm to be listed on the Padres 40-man roster. The 22-year-old Dominican finished the regular season with a .295 average with 37 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs and 92 RBIs.

While the Storm’s offense has been solid all season long, it has been their pitching that has helped send the Storm to the Cal League Finals. While the Storm has not decided on a rotation for games 3, 4 and 5, we will take a look at the pitching matchups for game 1 and 2.

Game 1- Murphy Smith vs. Jose DePaula: Smith may have started the season slowly, but boy has he ben red hot to close out the season. Smith pitched game three of the Modesto Mini-Series, going 8.0 innings, and giving up just one earned run on three hits. Throughout the 2011 season, Smith has fared better against right handed hitters, with righties hitting .260 versus .312 by left handed hitters.

Jose DePaula has had staggering success against left handers, which shouldn’t be too surprising as he is also a south paw. DePaula has left handers hitting just .225 off him and right handers don’t fair much better, posting a .298 average against the lefty.

Game 2-Rob Gilliam vs. Jerry Sullivan:  Rob Gilliam pitched game one of the series against the San Jose Giants, and had a rough outing, going just 3.1 innings, giving up five earned runs. Gilliam, however, has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Ports all season, and should be expected to bounce back from the rough first outing.

Jerry Sullivan made two appearances against the Ports back in the start of the season, earning a win despite posting a 5.91 ERA against the Ports.  Sullivan has given up nine runs (seven earned) to the Ports on the season.

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