Make or Break in the Florida State League
There is less than one month to go in the Florida State League season and the division races are in full force. In the North, the Dunedin Blue Jays (23-21) hold just a half game lead on the Tampa Tarpons (22-21). Just two games back, are the Lakeland Flying Tigers (21-23). The Daytona Tortugas and Clearwater Threshers sit just 3.5 and 4 games back. The competitiveness of this division in the second half makes it possible the division winner will hold .500 record.
Meanwhile in the South, the Charlotte Stone Crabs hold a 2.5 game lead on the St. Lucie Mets. The South’s first half winner, Fort Myers Miracle, sit nine games back of Charlotte. Given the leagues playoff format, the Miracle will face the second half winner for the South Division title in September. Thus, making the race between the Stone Crabs and Mets of critical importance. They will play head to head in one more series, August 16-18 in Port Charlotte.
The outcome of the North may be more complicated. Dunedin won the first half and has secured their spot in the playoffs. The best path for Tampa, Lakeland or anyone else to make the postseason is to catch Dunedin and win the second half. Otherwise, the team with the best overall record will be granted the Wild Card spot. In this case, Clearwater and Daytona currently have an advantage. Clearwater will face Dunedin in seven more games this month (August 5-7 and August 12-15). Tampa will play a crucial four game series with Dunedin (August 16-18). The Tarpons will face the Flying Tigers 11 more times this season, with a season ending series August 30 – September 1 in Lakeland.
The Home Run race remains a dead heat, with Home Run Derby Champ Dermis Garcia of Tampa (17) trailing Bradenton’s slugger Dylan Busby (19) by one. Trevor Larnach (Fort Myers) holds a wide lead in hitting, with a .316 BA. Charlotte’s Tommy Romero holds a 9-4 record and an impressive 1.85 ERA in 102.1 innings of work. Jupiter’s Trevor Rogers has 122 strikeouts.
Just a few weeks remain, but there’s plenty of time for major moves in the 2019 Florida State League season.