The last chance to see mega-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at home with the Buffalo Bisons this season starts Tuesday when the team opens its final homestand of the season.
The Bisons start a week-long home stretch with a three-game series at Coca-Cola Field against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Tuesday's game starts at 7:05 p.m. The home season concludes with four games, Friday through Monday, against Pawtucket.
The Bisons long ago faded from playoff contention, continuing a postseason drought that began in 2006. However, the RailRiders are involved in a three-way fight for the wild-card berth in the International League playoffs.
There has been a lot of roster turnover for both the Bisons and RailRiders since they first met this season on April 30 in Moosic, Pa. Seventy different players have appeared in a game for the Bisons, three less than the franchise's record for the modern era. Surprisingly, seven of the nine starters (excluding the pitcher) who started that night for the Herd are active with the team now.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has gone through a lot of change, some of it caused by the injury problems of the parent New York Yankees, some because a few minor league prospects were sent away in trades, such as the ones that brought J.A. Happ and Zach Britton to New York.
The RailRiders have been chock full with Yankees prospects in making the IL playoffs three times and winning one Triple-A championship the last three seasons. The list included Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird. Manager Bobby Mitchell’s roster is not as talented right now, but the RailRiders (65-59) are battling Norfolk (65-59), Indianapolis (68-58) and Columbus (67-59) for the wild-card berth in the playoffs.
Guerrero, the prized prospect in the Blue Jays organization, is batting .339 for the Herd. He went 5 for 21 in the five games he played on the team's just-completed road trip.
The Bisons on Tuesday will face perhaps the top Yankees pitching prospect in the high minors, Justus Sheffield. The stocky left-hander is 5-4 with a 2.57 earned-run average in 16 appearances for the RailRiders, 15 of them starts. Sheffield got a win over the Bisons at Coca-Cola Field on July 2. It's expected Sheffield will join the Yankees as a September call-up, if not sooner, according to comments made last week by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
Opposing him will be Bisons lefty Matt Tracy (1-1, 2.06), who finally got his first win with Buffalo in his eighth start at Charlotte last week.
The Bisons' home finale will be Monday. Then the Bisons finish the season with four games in Rochester and three in Syracuse, ending on Labor Day, Sept. 3.
Noteworthy: Buffalo has only games against North Division opponents the rest of the way. The Bisons are 35-39 overall against the North. They are 6-7 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 8-8 vs. Pawtucket, 8-5 vs. Rochester and 9-5 vs. Syracuse and 4-14 against Lehigh Valley. Buffalo is 13-13 against the South Division and 10-13 against the West. ... Bisons catcher Reese McGuire was 4 for 8 the last two games of the series at Gwinnett.
Next: Right-hander Brandon Cumpton (2-3, 5.68) is the scheduled starter for the Herd on Wednesday in a 7:05 p.m. game. Buffalo is likely to face another Yankees pitching prospect, right-hander Chance Adams in the series. Adams is 3-5 with a 4.98 ERA. He has been involved in 15 no decisions in his 23 starts. Thursday’s game is a 1:05 p.m. start.
Game times for the Pawtucket series are 7:05 Friday, 6:05 Saturday, 1:05 Sunday and 7:05 Monday.