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SEASON PREVIEW: Brisbane Bandits
11/09/2017 10:00 PM ET

This is the last of our 2017/18 Australian Baseball League team previews. Each day until November 10 we will preview a team in reverse order of last season's final positions. Today we take a look at the Brisbane Bandits.

Brisbane will look to create history and win an unprecedented third-straight Australian Baseball League crown in 2017/18.

The Bandits have bolstered their pitching stocks with the return of Major League experienced Travis Blackley and addition of national team pitcher Tim Atherton.

Rick Teasley will be back later in the season after a strong stint in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and left-handed import Ryan Bollinger looks set to lead the rotation.

Donald Lutz (pictured) and TJ Bennett will return to join Brisbane's offence, which will again be led by locals Aaron Whitefield, Logan Wade and Mitch Nilsson.

Taiwanese home-run king Lin Chih-sheng will also join the Bandits' offence in a big boost, while catcher Adam Weisenburger adds a load of Minor League experience.

But as he hones in on history, manager David Nilsson says it is again Brisbane's local players, including experienced campaigners David Sutherland, Andrew Campell and Wade Dutton, who the team will be built around.

With a load of depth and guys that have been there before, Bandits' fans have every reason to believe their team will be in action come February.

 

LAST SEASON
21-18 (third, defeated Aces in ABLCS)

 

THREE UP, THREE DOWN

1. How high is the ceiling? Aaron Whitefield, Mitch Nilsson and Logan Wade have become integral parts of the Brisbane set-up in recent seasons. The trio enjoyed stellar 2016/17 campaigns. Whitefield finished with the second-highest batting average in the league while leading it in stolen bases, Nilsson hit a team-high seven home runs and Wade ranked behind just Whitefield at the Bandits with 46 hits. With the prime of their career ahead of them, just how good can they become?

2. Aussie arms. Travis Blackley (pictured) returns to Brisbane and the Bandits have also added national team pitcher Tim Atherton. It gives their starting rotation a strong look after last season finishing with the second-worst ERA (5.24) in the league. In part due to playing 20 games at Holloway Field, Brisbane gave up more runs than any other side but with the addition of Blackley and Atherton they will be harder to face.

3. Fast-finishers. Manager David Nilsson is not too worried about a slow start as he tweaks his line-up to get the best out of it. The experienced manager knows the second half of the season is the business end and where the Bandits need to be at their best. It has shown the past two seasons. Brisbane finished last regular season with a 10-5 run after going 12-3 in January a year earlier. It was momentum they then carried into the postseason successfully.

 

WHAT MANAGER DAVID NILSSON SAYS
"We're really pleased with the team we have and our position but there are five other teams stacked and capable of winning. Every other team looks like they've upgraded from last year so it's going to be extremely tough. "

 

X-FACTOR

Amongst all the experienced imports on the Brisbane roster, a local could just be the biggest key. Aaron Whitefield (pictured), 21, was an offensive star in the ABL last season. The outfielder led the ABL with 53 hits and 20 stolen bases last season. Batting first most of the season he gave the Bandits early runners on base and put his speed to good use. He hit .369 in the second half of last season as Brisbane roared into the postseason.

 

WHY TO WATCH THEM
Because, #Beli3ve. The Bandits are chasing a third-straight ABL crown and that storyline alone is worth watching. If Brisbane's season pans out anything like last time around, when it stumbled through to the halfway point before getting hot, it is going to be one heck of a ride. Can the Bandits do what Perth has twice been unable to and complete a three-peat?

 

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
The Bandits see off all challengers and claim their third title in succession. Brisbane has some of the best depth in the league with a wealth of homegrown talent that has been with the team since the early days. They will also have close to a full-strength roster for Opening Weekend, unlike last season when they did not assemble their best line-up until the second half of the campaign. It shapes well for a three-peat, but with five teams eager to knock them off anything could happen.

 

HOME OPENER
vs Canberra, November 16 at 6.30pm. Get your Brisbane Bandits tickets here.

 



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