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Canberra 2018/19 season preview
Can the Cavs go a step further this season?
11/09/2018 12:29 AM ET
 

Canberra fell one game short of dethroning Brisbane in the 2017/18 season, dropping games two and three of the ABL Championship Series after putting together a 24-win campaign.

Jay Baum put together one of the most complete seasons in recent memory, claiming 61 hits and driving in 41 runs in 34 games, while Team Australia representative David Kandilas (12 homers) and highly-touted Padres prospect Buddy Reed (10) both finished with double-digit home run counts.

In a year where the bats dominated, three of Canberra' four starting pitchers finished the season with an ERA below 3.55, including Frank Gailey, who was a star in the rotation.

Gailey - who returns for the Cavs this season - posted a 1.80 ERA, only giving up 10 earned runs in 50 innings of work.

Canberra has added some Japanese stars, including Shota Imanaga, and kept their Australian core.

Can it take them one step further this season?

 

Vitals

Record: 24-15 (third, lost to Brisbane in ABLCS)

Manager: Keith Ward

 

Three up, three down

1. New manager, new Cavs?

Canberra has become the only foundation team to swap skippers in the off-season, but the transition should be seamless under Keith Ward.

Ward brings a wealth of experience to the role and takes over from Michael Collins, who has just concluded his first season as a bullpen catcher for the Houston Astros.

Collins will remain on Ward's staff as an assistant coach, while Brian Grening - the ABL's all-time strikeout leader - will serve as the pitching coach for the 2018/19 season.

All three men are stalwarts in Canberra, and with a core group of players looking to avenge last season's defeat, the Cavalry loom as a force in the North-East Division.

 

2. Comeback kings

Queensland natives Josh Warner and Steven Chambers have been around the ABL for a long time, and both will be looking to revitalise their careers in the nation's capital.

Chambers - who is slated for his second stint with Canberra - is looking to recapture his 2015/16 form with the Bite, where the starter claimed eight wins and finished with a 3.66ERA in 14 starts.

Warner on the other hand, hasn't pitched in the league since December 2015, but has been very solid for the Coomera Cubs in the GBL. Warner is a former Phillies prospect and was featured as one of the local talents to watch.

Can Warner and Chambers both fit in the Cavalry's rotation?

 

3. Here come the BayStars…

The Cavs recently announced a strategic partnership with NPB side Yokohama DeNA BayStars and with the quality of players descending on our nation's capital this season, there's no doubt we're in for some fireworks.

Japanese national team star Shota Imanaga headlines the quartet and brings with him an outstanding record in one of the world's premier baseball leagues.

Imanaga put together an 11-7 win-loss record and finished with a 2.98ERA in his 2017 campaign with the BayStars, and will toe the rubber between weeks two and seven.

Pitchers Yuki Kuniyoshi and Tomoya Mikami bring 13 years of NPB experience to the Cavs, while exciting young outfielder Koki Aoyagi looms large as a future star.

 

Case for

Their Australian core is sensational, and their imports are proven stars.

David Kandilas, Steve Kent, Boss Moanaroa and Robbie Perkins are bonafide stars of the league, and with the inclusion of four world-class BayStars players there's no reason the Cavs can't make another charge at the title.

Add Michael Crouse to that mix (a career .299 hitter in the ABL) and Canberra has every right to feel confident heading into this season.

 

Case against

Losing Jay Baum and Buddy Reed are two massive blows offensively, and a lot of that reliance will fall on new Padres infielders Justin Lopez and Kelvin Melean.

The Cavs will also have to tackle three tough road trips in the opening weeks of the season (Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland), and a slow start could mean a long way back in a very competitive division.

 

Home opener

vs Brisbane at The Fort at MIT Ballpark, December 6 at 7pm local time. Get your tickets here!

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.