GOTTA SEE IT: Tigers’ Class-A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps clinch playoff spot

This is not a typo, a team in the minors has already clinched a playoff berth. The West Michigan Whitecaps, Low Class-A affiliate for the Detroit tigers, has clinched a spot in the Midwest League postseason.

The Whitecaps swept a Wednesday doubleheader on the road against the Bowling Green Hot rods (TB). The pair of wins earned them no worse than a spot in the postseason.

For those unfamiliar with the playoff procedures in the Midwest League, the season is divided into two halves. The first half of the season concludes this weekend, and four teams will have clinched playoff berths: two division winners and two Wild Card teams. In total, eight teams qualify for the MWL postseason im September.

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The Whitecaps carry a 43-22 record overall entering Thursday; the series finale with Bowling green has already been canceled due to weather. The ‘Caps hold a 3.5 game lead in the MWL East Divison over the Dayton Dragons (CIN). Any win over the weekend by West Michigan or any loss by Dayton would wrap up a division crown for the ‘Caps.

If you recall, the Whitecaps and Dragons were involved in a bench-clearing scrum last month in Dayton.

This is the fourth consecutive season that West Michigan will be participating in the Midwest League playoffs. They won the league championship in 2015, it was their sixth MWL title in their first 22 years in existence. They were an affiliate for the Oakland Athletics for three years (1994-96) and have been with the Tigers since 1997.

The pitching has been leading the way for the Whitecaps in 2017, as evident by these numbers through Wednesday’s games.

West Michigan has four starters with an ERA under 3.00; two with a sub-2.00 ERA. Anthony Castro pitched in Game 1 of the twin bill on Wednesday and tossed a complete game shutout (seven innings). He now carries a 2.29 ERA on the year. Then it was Austin Sodders in Game 2 allowing just one run one four hits in six innings, lowering his ERA to 1.40 in 11 starts.

Listen to the call from Whitecaps’ play-by-play man Dan Hasty on WBBL (107.3 FM).

Prior to his call-up, Tigers’ prospect Kyle Funkhouser was contributing to the Whitecaps’ success. He has since then been promoted to High Class-A Lakeland and continued his success in 2017 with the Flying Tigers.

The 2017 Midwest League All-Star Game is on Tuesday, June 20 at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan; home of the Great Lakes Loons (LAD). There will be six Whitecaps present at the game, including the aforementioned Austin Sodders and the team’s top two hitters: Jake Robson and Blaise Salter. The six All-Star representatives are tied for the second-most among all MWL clubs.

Following the All-Star festivities next week, teams will begin the second half of the 2017 season. The Whitecaps will play through the dog days of summer with a playoff spot already in their back pocket.

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Written by Alex Muller

MSU Graduate. Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit. Baseball is life, a pitcher at heart. Freelance writer for MIPrepZone (News-Herald, Press & Guide).

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