If there is one opponent the Augusta GreenJackets have something left to prove against, it’s the team they face in the first round of the South Atlantic League playoffs.
The GreenJackets will take on the Savannah Sand Gnats in the opening round of the playoffs.
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.
Two similar teams trying to win two of three games means anything can happen. Pitching tends to come into focus in short playoff series, and both teams are strong in that department.
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.
The GreenJackets will start Agosta in Game 1. He has been out at different points of the season and doesn’t have as many innings as Game 2 starter, Kendry Flores, but he has a 2.06 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings.
The Sand Gnats will start Gabriel Ynoa, the SAL Pitcher of the Year, in Game 1. The 20-year-old right-hander has a 2.72 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 135 2/3 innings. He avoids walks, allowing only 16 and throws a moving fastball that touches in the mid-90s with an outstanding changeup and developing curveball.
Flores has been the anchor of the rotation this year with a 2.73 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings. He will face Steven Matz, who has a 2.62 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings.
After Game 1, the teams will play at Savannah on Friday and Saturday for Games 2 and 3, if necessary.
Game 3 starters would be Augusta’s Chris Stratton and Savannah’s Luis Cessa.