Wednesday, September 4 - 7:05 p.m. (SAL First Round - Game 1)
Savannah Sand Gnats (34-35, 77-61)
Gabriel Ynoa (135.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 19.6 K%, 3 BB%, .278 BABIP)
Augusta GreenJackets (44-24, 82-55)
Martin Agosta (91.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 29.3 K%, 11.6 BB%, .254 BABIP)
Some bits from the print version of the series preview:
"Augusta is 8-16 this season against Savannah and 74-39 against the rest of the league. Beating the New York Mets affiliate has been a struggle, but the games have been very close, with an average score within one run of each other. Fourteen of the 25 games have been decided by three runs or less.
"The Sand Gnats rank second in the league with a 3.15 ERA; the GreenJackets are tied for fourth at 3.42. Augusta has two starters with a top 10 ERA, and a third if Martin Agosta had enough innings to qualify. Savannah also has two within the top 10.
"Seven of Augusta’s eight primary relievers this season have an ERA below 4, while Savannah has five of seven."
There are so many ways this series could go. This is obvious in a three-game series, but even more so when the teams are this close. The GreenJackets are well behind in the season series, but the games have been closer than the record indicates. The two teams know each other well, and the ability to structure game plans against hitters and pitchers and adapt to them are important.
Agosta has been on the disabled list a couple times and sat out for extended periods at points this season, so he doesn't have the innings total of Kendry Flores or Chris Stratton. But Agosta has been very good when on the mound, as a 2.06 ERA shows. His FIP is a full run higher because of a walk percentage above 10 percent, but a high strikeout rate has helped negate the walks and resulted in a left-on-base percentage above 80 percent.
If you're seeing Agosta for the first time, expect a fastball in the low-90s with the ability to cut and tail it. His command of the pitch is usually good, and he has the ability to work up in the zone with two strikes. It's not a sinking pitch, so his ground ball/fly ball ratio stays pretty even.
Agosta's slider is his best secondary, sitting low-80s with good two-plane break and tight spin. His feel of the pitch has wavered since returning from his latest disabled list stint, leaving it arm-side and losing the spin early at times, but it still flashes plus when he throws a good one. He'll flash a changeup at times, but the pitch is mostly a show-me offering right now, and expect only a few in a big start like this.
Agosta has had one good outing and two sub-par ones against the Sand Gnats this year. He gave up three runs and four runs in two starts, and he threw seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts in the most recent. He hasn't faced Savannah since May.
Gabriel Ynoa has a different arsenal from Agosta, but the results have been similar. Ynoa throws a low-90s fastball that touches mid-90s, showing good run and sink. The changeup is his main secondary, and it's consistently a plus offering. It shows excellent separation and fading action. Expect to see it a lot.
Ynoa also throws a curveball, but it's a developing pitch at this point. He loses feel for it and spins it out of the hand early at times, but it flashes solid-average when on.
Ynoa's motion helps make the changeup look even better. He has whippy arm action and slings the ball forward, creating deception with similar arm speed on the change. He's thin and has room to grow into a decent frame, but all signs point toward him having the durability to start in the future.
Ynoa has faced the GreenJackets three times this season, allowing one run, no runs and four runs while going either five or six innings each time. The right-hander forces hitters to swing the bat to get on base, and Augusta has just one walk over those three outings against him.