GOTTA SEE IT: 91-win West Michigan Whitecaps set to begin playoff run

It's been an unbelievable season for the West Michigan Whitecaps. The Low Class-A affiliate for the Detroit Tigers wrapped up their 2017 season with a win on Monday, giving them their 91st victory of the campaign.

The Whitecaps were the wire-to-wire best team in the Midwest League this season. They actually clinched a playoff spot back in mid-June by finishing in first place in their division. It's the fourth straight season that West Michigan is participating in postseason play and they will look to make it two Midwest League crowns in three seasons, after winning it all in 2015, and seventh in franchise history.

Their outstanding regular season byproduct reflects in their dominance across the stat sheet. The Whitecaps' pitching staff paced the Midwest League in team ERA (2.77), WHIP (1.12), and shutouts (28). Offensively, they were a top-3 club in terms of batting average (.264) and were one of the more disciplined teams in the league, striking out the fewest times as a club.

There's been a number of noteworthy individual performances that have contributed to the ‘Caps success in 2017. And what makes it more impressive is the amount of roster turnover they endured throughout the season, with teams drafting new players in June and assigning them accordingly in the minors. West Michigan has used more than 50 players this season in some capacity — 24 position players and 27 pitchers.

Perhaps the most prominent name to Tigers fans down in West Michigan right now is 19-year-old Matt Manning. The Tigers' top pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2016 MLB Draft was promoted in early August after dominating the New York-Penn League (short-season Class-A).

Manning has since then made five starts for the Whitecaps and while the 5.60 ERA may not look pretty, he has made some adjustments in that stretch.

IP 2.1 15.1
ER 8 3*
K/BB 4/5 22/6

*Consecutive shutouts in latter two starts of stretch

Joining West Michigan down the stretch here in the second half are two prospects the Tigers acquired in two different deadline deals, in outfielder Daz Cameron (No. 6) and shortstop Isaac Paredes (No. 10). Cameron was one of three prospects Detroit acquired in the Justin Verlander trade with the Houston Astros; Paredes came over with Jeimer Candelario in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila deal with the Chicago Cubs.

There have been a fair amount of the Tigers' top prospects that started the season at West Michigan, helped the team build such a healthy lead in the Midwest League, and have since then been graduated to High Class-A Lakeland.

So what's the upcoming schedule for West Michigan looking like? Well, they will begin their opening round series on Wednesday on the road against the Dayton Dragons, Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. You may recall an incident earlier in the season when these two teams were involved in a bench-clearing brawl, so look for some extra adrenaline in this series.

Here is a look at the schedule for the Whitecaps this week:

  • Game 1 | Wednesday, September 6 @ 7 p.m. ET (at Dayton)
  • Game 2 | Thursday, September 7 @ 7 p.m. ET (at West Michigan)
  • Game 3 | Friday, September 8 @ 7 p.m. ET (at West Michigan; if necessary)

All games can be seen on MiLB.TV or heard on TuneIn Radio. Click here to see a list of the local stations in the region.