Holland Series Preview: Get Ready For A Real Dutch Treat

Following the conclusion of the Italian Baseball Series, which saw Bologna crowned 2020 Italian Champion in a thrilling 6-5 final over San Marino in Game Seven, Le Baseblog turns its attention north, to the 2020 Holland Series and its two powerhouse participants: the Amsterdam Pirates and Neptunus Rotterdam.

Like in Italy, Holland’s top two historical clubs will meet (and not for the first time) in their own best-of-seven series, beginning this Saturday in Rotterdam. But before we take a swing at predicting the winner, let’s compare the two sides, starting with a look at the club’s pitching staffs.

Holland’s fall classic begins Saturday in Rotterdam

Amsterdam enters the series as the number two seed, with a 16-5 record, while Rotterdam finished the COVID-shortened campaign with an even more impressive 18-2 mark, thanks in large part to its stellar pitching. The team has a team ERA of 2.30, compared to 3.24 for Amsterdam.

Orlando Yntema has shined particularly bright for Neptunus Rotterdam, going 6-1 with a sparkling 0.86 ERA and 41 K in 41.2 IP. Veteran lefty Diegomar Markwell, their number two starter, was über reliable as well (3-0, with 3.00 ERA and 12 K in 33.0 IP), as was Kaj Timmermans, who notched a perfect 5-0 record with a 3.41 ERA and 22 K in 37.0 IP. And to seal the deal on their many victories, the team relied on not one, but two crafty closers: Kevin Kelly (1.00 ERA in 18.0 IP/18 K and Aaron de Groot (1.93 ERA in 23.1 IP/26 K).

Amsterdam’s starting rotation features four pitchers: lefty Jim Ploeger (2-2, 3.33 ERA, 25 K in 27.0 IP), Naut Kragt (4-1, 3.56 ERA,17 K in 30.1 IP), JC Sulbaran (5-2, 3.60 ERA, 34 K in 40.0 IP) and the Dutch all-time leader in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, the ageless Rob Cordemans (1-0, 1.84 ERA, 10 K in 14.2 IP), who hopes to celebrate his 46th birthday later this month with yet another Dutch championship title.

Stijn van der Meer helped lead Rotterdam to an 18-2 record

The main bullpen arms for the Pirates are Mike Groen (1-0, 0.73 ERA, 8 K in 12.1 IP), Tigers minor league prospect Tom de Blok (2.00 ERA, 4 K in 9.0 IP) and former big league pitcher Shairon Martis (2.63 ERA, 16 K in 13.2 IP).

The Curacao born Martis, 33, pitched 116 innings in the show from 2008-2013, picking up six wins and punching out 64 with the Nationals and Twins before spending a few more seasons in the minor leagues. He also threw the only no-hitter in World Baseball Classic history while pitching for the Netherlands in 2006 against Panama. Needless to say, he brings a wealth of experience to a team that upset Rotterdam in seven games in last year’s Holland Series.

Offensively, the slight edge would have to go to Rotterdam (.342 team AVG, 12 HR). But Amsterdam has some serious pop in their lineup too (.312 team AVG, 20 HR) and boasts a number of big names.

Leading the charge are a trio of outfielders who can cover ground and hit the ball out of the park. Denzel Richardson (.412 AVG, 5 HR), Kalian Sams (.359, 8 HR) and Gilmer Lampe (.333, 3 HR) can all be a headache for opposing pitching staffs. Not to be out-done, shortstop Sharlon Schoop (little brother of MLB second baseman Jonathan Schoop) hit a very respectable .350 with 2 homers for manager Michael Duurma‘s Pirates.

Denzel Richardson has shown power and consistency this season

Rotterdam has 10 players who finished batting over .300 on the season. Longtime Neptunus infielder Dwyane Kemp (.404, 4 HR), Gianison Boekhoudt (.344, 2 HR) and Benjamin Dille (.343, 1 HR) stood out the most. Smooth fielding infielders John Polonius (.367, 3 HR), Stijn van der Meer (.343) and Dudley Leonora (.288) rounded out the lineup for Ronald Jaarsma‘s squad.

Predicting a 2020 champ is well……a coin toss. If last year’s final serves as a preview, this series should go seven games again. We’ll take Amsterdam to defend their crown.

Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 10

Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 11

Game 3: Thursday, Oct. 15

Game 4: Saturday, Oct. 17

Game 5: Sunday, Oct. 18 (if nec)*

Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 24 (if nec)*

Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 (if nec)*

Games can be watched online at: www.honkbalsite.com

Unlike in the Italian Finals, all games will be played without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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