General view of stadium during a match between Algodoneros Union Laguna and Tecolotes de Dos Laredos as part of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol 2019 at Estadio Revolucion on April 9, 2019 in Torreon, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
This year’s Serie del Rey, the championship of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, will feature great pitching versus great hitting.
The Pericos de Puebla, who advanced to the final series out of the Zona Sur by defeating the Leones de Yucatan four games to one, have a strong pitching staff that has gotten them through to the championship series, while the Algodoneros de Union Laguna have a strong offense that powered them past the Tecolotes de Los Dos Laredos, the regular season winner in the Zona Norte.
Puebla finished fourth in the Zona Sur during the regular season, then defeated El Aguila de Veracruz four games to three in the first round. They topped the Diablos Rojos de Mexico four games to two to advance to the Serie Campeonato, and then beat Yucatan to advance to the Serie del Rey.
Former Met and Oriole Gabriel Ynoa has been stellar through the postseason for the Pericos, throwing 34.1 innings with a 1.47 ERA and a WHIP of 0.79, and earned two wins in the Serie Campeonato against Yucatan. Jesus Huerta, Roel Ramirez, and closer Elkin Alcala continue to stifle opposing hitters out of the bullpen.
The Algodoneros finished fourth in the Zona Norte during the regular season, then defeated the Sultanes de Monterrey four games to three in the first round of the playoffs. They followed that with a four games to one triumph over the Toros de Tijuana to earn a berth in the Serie Campeonato, where they eliminated Dos Laredos in six games.
Union Laguna’s J.C. Escarra has swung a hot bat in the LMB postseason, with the Florida International product slashing .343./.450/.657 with a 1.107 OPS, six homers and 16 RBI, while 10-year Major League veteran Jonathan Villar is batting .354/.415/.523 with a .936 OPS, two homers and 14 RBI.
The Algodoneros bullpen features three pitchers with an ERA under 2.00, including closer Thomas McIlraith, who has converted all five of his save opportunities in the postseason and has a 1.38 ERA in 10 appearances with 13 innings of work. Jake Jewell, who appeared in 31 MLB games over three seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs, has thrown 17.1 innings in 14 appearances with a 1.04 ERA, and former San Diego Padre Jose Torres has a 1.65 ERA over 16.1 innings of work in the postseason.
Ultimately, the Pericos are going to need both pitching and offense with a heaping dose of luck to win the Serie del Rey. Puebla, however, only has good pitching – the lineup doesn’t include a single player hitting over .300 or with an on-base percentage over .400. Major League veteran Chris Carter has four homers and 19 RBI to power the Pericos’ offense as the designated hitter, and infielders Samar Leyva (10 RBI) and Peter O’Brien (9 RBI) have also contributed offensively, but beyond them, the offense is thin.
Union Laguna has a powerful offense, great starters and a stellar bullpen, and are an easy pick win the 2023 Serie del Rey and capture their third LMB title. If they do, it’ll be their first in 73 years.
The 2023 Serie del Rey will be streamed on Jonron.tv with a paid subscription.
2023 Serie del Rey Schedule
Friday, Sept. 8 – Puebla at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT
Saturday, Sept. 9 – Puebla at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT
Monday, Sept. 11 – Union Laguna at Puebla – 9 p.m. EDT
Tuesday, Sept. 12 – Union Laguna at Puebla – 9 p.m. EDT
Wednesday, Sept. 13 – Union Laguna at Puebla – 9 p.m. EDT*
Friday, Sept. 15 – Puebla at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT*
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Puebla at Union Laguna – 9 p.m. EDT*
* – If necessary