The 2016 PGBL season enters its final day with one division championship and one playoff berth still up for grabs, with the Las Vegas Gamblers and Compton Outlawz vying for the final South League wild card.
Las Vegas holds a one-game lead on Compton, with the Gamblers due to pitch Lance Lynn against Twin City while the Outlawz send Chris Archer out against Louisville. Compton needs to win and have the Truckers play spoiler to force a one-game playoff at Las Vegas.
Whichever team earns the spot will grab the No. 4 seed in the SL behind Oakland, St. Louis and Tijuana. The Athletes charged to the best record in the league, clinching the Cactus Division and the top overall seed with ease. St. Louis outdistanced the field in the Confederate Division and Tijuanja retooled at the deadline to hold on to the first wild card spot.
In the North League, the season-long battle royale in the Norris Division will end with all three contenders separated by one game. Boston and Cleveland sit at 98-63 entering the final day, while Chicago finished at 98-64 and claimed the No 4 seed as the second wild card.
The Tribe hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and host last-place Pittsburgh, while the Braves entertain Maple Leaf Division champion Ottawa. Cleveland and Boston will square off in the first round of the playoffs, with the division winner getting home field advantage.
The other first-round matchups will see the Argonauts facing the Cardinals, the Clydesdales battling the Tequila Swiggers and the Athletes drawing either Las Vegas or Compton.
On the opposite side, Twin City, Flagstaff and London have secured the top three slots in the draft order. While Brooklyn is locked into the No. 10 spot, the rest of the order remains to be finalized.
Off to a fast start in the Confederate Division, the Compton Outlawz bolstered their lineup with the addition of former home run champion and five-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera.
The Outlawz landed Cabrera along with pitcher Sean Gilmartin and Shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson from Memphis in exchange for Michael Conforto, Luis Severino, Manuel Margot and a pair of future first-round picks.
Cabrera hit .321 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 33 games with Memphis after coming to the team in an offseason trade with London. He had a .393 OBP and an .887 OPS with the Melee.
Cabrera joins his fourth team in three seasons after spending the first 10 years of his PGBL career with Cleveland. He hit .266 with 22 homers and 88 RBIs last season for the Arsenal after batting .356 with 51 blasts for Louisville the year before.
The Boston Braves are hoping to make some noise in the Norris Division after three straight seasons of at least 115 losses. With that in mind, Boston’s front office traded the No. 1 overall pick and three prospects to acquire pitchers Jon Lester and Koji Uehara from Compton.
The Braves then moved down three spots out of the No. 2 spot to acquire outfielder Gregor Blanco from Louisville.
The moves come a little over a week after Boston pulled the trigger on a pair of deals that brought back a haul that included John Lackey, Jimmy Rollins, Josh Phegley and Preston Tucker.
In addition to the top choice, Compton receives Gleyber Torres, Nick Travieso and Mike Matuella from Boston.
Louisville starting pitcher Wily Peralta had the roughest of starts, surrendering 17 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 20-7 loss to Compton.
The Outlawz jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Long Rifles tied it in the bottom of the third. Compton answered with 11 two-out runs off Peralta in the top of the fourth. Jason Werth’s tiebreaking RBI single and capped it with a three-run double, with a Wilson Ramos grand slam mixed in between.
Louisville stuck with Peralta to start the fifth and Kyle Seager launched a leadoff solo homer. After a ground out, Peralta plunked Mike Napoli to end his day as Nate Eovaldi entered.
The Compton Outlawz got aggressive in their Confederate Division race with St. Louis, swinging a pair of deals that netted Hyun-Jin Ryu, Koji Uehara, Matt Joyce and Drew Stubbs.
Compton sent star outfielder Adam Jones (right) to London along with minor league pitcher Brian Johnson and a draft pick to get Ryu, Uehara and Stubbs. The Outlawz then sent Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison to Vancouver for Joyce, Chad Qualls and minor league catcher Reese McGuire in a deal that included a pick on each side.
Ryu, who struggled to a 3-7 record with a 5.82 ERA with the Arsenal, will take Cobb’s spot in the rotation, while Uehara joins a bullpen that has gotten strong first halves from Dellin Betances (3-1, 1.60, 16 saves) and Jordan Walden (1.04, 4 saves).
Offensively, Joyce and Stubbs will form a platoon tandem looking to improve on Jones’ .249/.277/.449 triple slash that included 14 homers, second only to Chris Carter‘s 16 for Compton. Stubbs hit .429 against lefties and .387 overall for London, while Joyce posted a .280/.390/.415 triple slash with five homers in Vancouver.
Cobb (left) missed three weeks with an injury but went 5-3 with a 3.65 ERA for Compton. He moves into a rotation getting strong seasons from Chris Sale (8-3, 2.65), Odrisamer Despaigne (5-5, 1.98) and Edinson Volquez (6-4, 2.77). Vancouver trails Norris Division co-leaders Chicago and Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games in the quest for a wildcard berth.