With eight games to go, the Boise Hawks of the Short-Season A Northwest League are just one game out of making the playoffs under one scenario and three games out under another. If Boise can pull it off, they will join the Daytona Cubs and the Tennessee Smokies as the Cubs place three of their top five farm teams in the postseason.
So how do things look for Boise’s postseason chances?
First, let’s run down the rules for making the playoffs in the Northwest League. Like many other leagues, the season is split into two halves, and the winner of each half claims a spot in the playoffs. It was by winning the first half title in the Flordia State and Sourthern Leagues that Daytona and Tennessee qualified for their postseasons.
Boise plays in the East division which was won by Tri-City in the first half. Currently, Tri-City is in first place for the second half as well, holding a three game lead over Boise and a two game lead over Yakima. If Boise or Yakima can overtake Tri-City in the standings, that team will win the second half title and claim a spot in the playoffs.
But what if Tri-City hangs on and wins the second half? In that case, the second half postseason spot would go to the team with the next best record for the entire season, not just the second half. Right now, that team is Spokane. Boise trails Spokane by just one game.
So, Boise can make the playoffs by either passing Tri-City in the second half standings or by passing Spokane in the overall standings if Tri-City stays in first.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much chance of Boise passing Tri-City. The Hawks have eight games left, three on the road and five at home. And so do Tri-City. In fact, both teams play the same opponents the rest of the way. When the Hawks come home from Salem-Keizer, they will welcome Vancouver who will have just finished a series with Tri-City. Tri-City will go home to play Salem-Keizer. Boise might have a slight edge in that they get bottom-dwelling Vancouver at home for five games, but I doubt that will be enough of an advantage to pass Tri-City.
So lets look at the second scenario. The Hawks are just one game back of Spokane in the overall standings. Here the schedule absolutely works in the Hawk’s favor. While they finish the season against the bottom two teams in the West Division, Spokane finishes against the top two teams, Eugene and Everett. That should give the Hawks a chance to pull ahead of Spokane in the standings. Yakima’s schedule mirrors Spokane’s, so I don’t think there much of a chance that Yakima will be able to pass Tri-City and claim the second half title themselves.
Boise hasn’t helped themselves so far. They dropped five of six on the road against Yakima and Spokane earlier this week, but they have managed two straight road wins at Salem-Keizer to open that five game set. These next three road games will be key for the Hawks. They could really use a sweep as they head home for the final five game set, but that is unlikely. The Hawks are just not a good road team. If they can take one of the three games this weekend it might be enough to pull them into a tie with Spokane with five games to go, and in that scenario I like Boise’s chances.
As the minor leagues wind down this coming week, keep a close eye on what is happening in the Northwest League. The Boise Hawks are locked in a postseason race as exciting as any we’re likely to see in the majors, and it could come down to the wire.
And now for something completely different.
There is a pretty good chance my regular Line of the Week will not be appearing on Monday as usual. I live on the east coast, and while we are not expecting major damage from Irene, we are expected to lose power for a few days. I should be back next weekend to start wrapping up the Cubs minor league campaigns.