07/19/2021 4:14 AM
Article By: Taylor Viles
The summer is flying by. Less than three weeks remain in the regular season before the four-team playoff format begins. Last week, attention turned to the MLB draft and All-Star Game which proved the dominance of the Cape League to unfamiliar baseball fans. Teams also continued to show if the trends they’ve displayed so far are an accurate representation of their potential. Some are still looking to find an effective system to finish a game with the lead, others have risen to a level of supremacy over their competition. Week five should have in store the answers to questions about the players and teams fighting it out during the final days of July.
Storylines to consider:
Dynamics change as twenty 2021 players drafted into MLB
This season has been different from others for many reasons, but one of the biggest changes came midseason when the MLB held its annual draft. Usually, it’s held before the Cape League summer, but because of the move, players who were planning on being drafted still came and played until the draft. 20 players who were on Cape League diamonds over the last month heard their name called and entered the world of professional baseball. This led managers to need to quickly think about how to reconstruct their lineup while remaining competitive. Every team except for Falmouth and Orleans lost a player to the MLB draft this summer. Six 2021 Cotuit Kettleers were drafted last week. Since the draft concluded, Cotuit Manager Mike Roberts has signed nine players onto his squad for the second half of the summer, counteracting the large departure. This summer’s odd draft situation was like finding the right puzzle pieces to fit an already meshed team. Because of the change in dynamic, the upcoming playoff run could look different for many teams.
Playoff races tightening, becoming clearer
The top spot of the West Division seems locked in as the 15-2-3 Bourne Braves cannot seem to be slowed down. Other than that, there are still plenty of games left for teams to make an out-of-nowhere run and take either a first or second birth in the 2021 playoffs. In the West, Cotuit holds the second spot by four points over Falmouth and Wareham. Both teams have been trending downward as of late, but have important games to play this week. Cotuit plays Falmouth at the end of the week (three more times total) and Wareham twice next week. In the East Division, the surging Brewster Whitecaps haven’t given up its division lead in over a week. The Whitecaps sit at 28 points, ahead of Harwich (27) and YD (25).
Player to watch:
Dalton Rushing, Bourne Braves, 1B, Louisville
Rushing has been near the top of the Cape League offensive leaders for the entire season. He led the league in batting average (BA) for the first several games before cooling off. Recently, he has regained his elite offensive ability for the first place Bourne Braves, hitting .409 over the past week. He also contributed offensively with two long balls and a double. Among the players on Cape Cod (excluding the ones who were released or drafted), Rushing is third in the league in BA with .324. He leads the Braves in home runs with four this season. Bourne has a plethora of exciting players leading to their league dominance, but Rushing, who has played in all but two games this season, stands out as a leader on and off the field.
Must watch games:
Falmouth (8-11-2) @ Bourne (17-2-3)- July 19, July 21, 6 p.m.
The Bourne Braves are quickly running away with the West Division. The team’s cohesive play has continued to dominate its competition making them practically unbeatable. On the other hand, Falmouth has struggled to put together a streak of more than just a couple of games but has stayed solid enough to be right in the mix for the number two seed in the West. These two matchups, separated by only a day, will test the Commodores’ determination to make the playoffs (in the shrunken playoff format). Falmouth must overtake Cotuit if the team wants to earn its playoff spot for early August. Both of these teams have serious sluggers. Falmouth has the home run edge hitting 22 against Bourne’s 17, but the Braves’ pitchers have been rock solid this season. Their combined ERA is 2.31 as opposed to Falmouth’s 4.21. The Commodores need to find a way to break through Bourne’s stellar hurlers to have a chance at a possible two victories. In the season series, Bourne is 3-0.
Livestream link: https://www.youtube.com/user/bournebraves
Harwich (12-7-3) @ Yarmouth-Dennis (10-8-5)- July 19, July 21, 5 p.m.
In a similar format to the first matchup, the Mariners and the Red Sox will also play twice in two days this week. The East Division matchup to follow features two teams within two points of each other, looking to put pressure on their rivals by securing a firm grasp on second (or even first) place. Harwich has caught fire of late, posting a 7-1-2 record over the last 10 games, while YD was on a similar pace before dropping a couple in a row at the end of last week. The Red Sox sit just two points back of the Mariners and three points back of the division-leading Brewster Whitecaps. It’s going to be a tight race to the end but the two games this week should prove to be monumental in cementing the top spots. So far, YD leads the season series 2-1.
Livestream link: https://www.youtube.com/user/ydredsoxccbl
Harwich (12-7-3) @ Wareham (7-12-4)- July 23, 6:45 p.m.
A matchup picked solely due to each team’s offensive abilities, the end of the week is sure to excite when Harwich travels across the Cape Cod Canal for the final time this season. Over the past week, players from both sides have been atop to Cape League leaderboard in BA. Wareham’s Jack Brannigan leads the pack hitting .438 over the week while picking up four walks. The junior from Notre Dame had a four-game hitting streak until Bourne shut the Gatemen out on Saturday. For Harwich, Pres Cavenaugh continued to add to his already impressive summer resume by hitting .353 over the week. The outfielder is hitting .326 on the season. For Wareham, other offensive standouts include Tres Gonzalez (.281, 7 stoles bases) and Owen Diodati who is leading the league in home runs (6) and second in RBI (17). For Harwich, Brock Wilken has hit eight doubles and sits third in BA (.337) and Tatem Levins has crushed a home run while showing his plate discipline (14 walks) and hitting .305. Should any combination of these players be in the lineup on Friday, expect an offensive output by both sides. Harwich leads the season series 1-0-1.
Livestream link: https://www.youtube.com/user/warehamgatemen/videos