2024 New York Boulders vs Quebec Capitales

5 Things The Quebec Capitales Must Do To Finish The Frontier Season Strong

5 Things The Quebec Capitales Must Do To Finish The Frontier Season Strong

Another summer, another season in which the Quebec Capitales are arguably the creme de la creme of the Frontier League.

Jul 8, 2024 by Briar Napier
Frontier League Feature: Quebec Capitales

Another summer, another season in which the Quebec Capitales are arguably the creme de la creme of the Frontier League.

It’s a familiar sight to Frontier fans, considering that all the Quebec City-based ballclub has done since it hopped into the league two years ago is dominate. 

Quebec is the Frontier’s two-time reigning and defending league champion, and a third title this season would make it the league’s first team to ever three-peat since the league began play in 1993. So far, the club’s bid for history has mostly gone to plan, with the Capitales right in the thick of discussion for the East Division’s No. 1 seed and, subsequently, a first-round bye in the league playoffs in September.

The road to glory is going to be full of traffic and hazards the rest of the way for the Capitales, however, and though they’ve mostly been fantastic to start the 2024 season, they’re going to have to keep up the pace in order to pick up a historic championship.

 But if you’ve seen Quebec play over the course of the past two seasons, you know firsthand how much damage it can do.

Here’s a look ahead at what the Capitales will need to do over the final two months of the Frontier League’s regular season, streamed live and exclusively throughout the year on FloBaseball: 

Ride James Bradwell To Glory

There’s no denying that Quebec has a stacked pitching staff, with the ballclub’s 4.08 team ERA (following the conclusion of Friday’s games) being the third-best in the Frontier while its 21 homers allowed are the fewest and its 460 strikeouts thrown are the second-most. 

The Capitales have two more than deserving hurlers going to the Frontier League All-Star Game on July 17 (held in none other than Quebec City, in fact) as right-handers Ryan Sandberg (3-0, 1.39 ERA, 48 strikeouts in 45⅓ innings) and Frank Moscatiello (5-1, 1.57 ERA, five saves in 23 innings) have been dynamite, but there’s one more player on Quebec’s staff that deserves your attention — especially considering that he could be key to what would be a historic Capitales three-peat. 

James Bradwell, a Canada-born, 6-foot-5 righty who was acquired in the offseason after spending two years with provincial rival Trois-Rivieres, is amid a career year with Quebec as the 25-year-old is 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53⅔ innings pitched this season. Some of his best stuff shown of the year has been coming up lately, like when he threw five innings of shutout ball while striking out six against the New England Knockouts on June 15 or when he allowed just one run in 5⅔ frames in a no-decision against the Tri-City ValleyCats on Wednesday. 

A bit of an overlooked piece to Quebec’s puzzle with Sandberg and Moscatiello grabbing the headlines, Bradwell (especially with a strong second half) can make a major difference in the Capitales’ title push down the line.

Get Jake MacKenzie On Base

What if I told you a possible key to unlocking Quebec’s lineup for the mid-to late-season stretch lies with a guy who is currently batting .228 with a .373 on-base percentage? 

Yep, as much as it’s fun watching East Division All-Star starter Justin Gideon smash home runs (10 as of Friday night) and lead the way for an offense that’s scored the second-most runs (311) of any team in the Frontier thus far this season, the most underrated option in the Capitales’ batting order is often MacKenzie, an infielder who danced around the minors and spent a stint with the Glacier Range Riders of the Pioneer League last summer before signing with the Capitales for 2024. 

MacKenzie’s batting average of .228 entering the weekend slate doesn’t jump off of the page, but his speed does; the Connecticut native’s 27 swipes currently rank second in the Frontier, and that leads to plenty of extra scoring opportunities for Quebec to pounce on as MacKenzie has 40 runs on the year thus far, being one of just seven players currently in the league to do so. 

His team-leading 30 RBIs show an ability to bring baserunners home himself, as well, so if there’s room for a few weeks of good hitting for MacKenzie, he could quickly turn into one of the most dangerous all-around offensive tools in the Frontier.

Be The Best Of Canada

It’s been a fun year for independent baseball in the Great White North as the Frontier’s Canadian fans, even those who don’t support the Capitales, have been treated to some great play as of late from their league representatives. 

The Capitales, Ottawa Titans, and Trois-Rivieres Aigles all currently sit (following the conclusion of Friday’s games) in the top half of the East standings and within 2½ games of each other in the table. With the country’s major-league representative, the Toronto Blue Jays, currently sitting last in the American League East, the Canada-based Frontier squads have in the meantime provided a dose of consistency that’s been a joy to watch unfold thus far — and have created an ultra-competitive environment between them in the fight to be not just the best team in their division, but also the best in their country, too. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Quebec entered July having not played another Canadian team yet in the season, but games against them were coming; 24 of them in all the rest of the way, in fact, with 12 each coming against the Titans and Aigles. The first of those rivalry clashes came Friday against Trois-Rivieres and couldn’t have started better for the Capitales, who won 7-2 to take the first showdown of a three-game series on the road this weekend.

Find Another Midseason Surge

It’s easy to forget now with Quebec in a familiar place of gunning for a division title but keep in mind that there was a time that the Capitales were struggling out of the gates this season. 

Entering June, Quebec was 8-11 and sputtering badly in the East, especially considering that the division rival New York Boulders were cruising with a 14-4 record over the same timeframe and looking like the team to beat — and the one to potentially unseat Quebec as kings of the Frontier. 

Then June happened, and the Capitales looked much more like the dynasty-chasing powerhouse Frontier fans known them as. 

Quebec was a buzzsaw during the month of June, ripping teams apart en route to a fantastic 22-4 record over the course of the month (a stretch that included a 12-game winning streak) and putting it right back in the conversation as a Frontier title favorite as a result. Following the conclusion of Friday’s games, Quebec is even with the Boulders in the East standings, so while it has performed admirably to get back in the division title picture, another No. 1 seed come playoff time is going to take more than just one good month to pull off. 

The Capitales’ July and August performances will be just as (if not more) important toward pursuing their goals, though as June proved, they can break out and be near-unbeatable at just about any moment.

Peak Late Yet Again 

You don’t win back-to-back championships in any sports league without an ability to turn it on when the pressure amps up, and in Quebec’s epic run of titles since joining the Frontier from the Can-Am League’s dissolution in 2020, it has done just that. 

In their opening season as a standalone Frontier franchise in 2022 (after pandemic-related restrictions forced them to be part of a Canadian travel team known as Equipe Quebec in 2021), the Capitales not only surged their way to the East’s No. 1 seed with a 4½-game cushion over the New York Boulders, but they got business done in the postseason as they stormed back from a 1-0 deficit in the Division Series against Ottawa and only needed four games to take down the Schaumburg Boomers in the Championship Series that followed. 

It was a similar story for Quebec a year later as the defending league champion, though their regular season wins over the New Jersey Jackals helped it gain the No. 1 in the East in 2023 after the two teams finished with identical 60-35 records. The Capitales were able to avoid the winner-take-all Wild Card Game as a result, and they once again rallied in the face of a 1-0 hole to New Jersey in the Division Series before taking the Championships Series yet again in a five-game classic against the Evansville Otters. 

If another playoff berth is in the cards for Quebec this season, a revived ability to be a force when its season is on the line will be demanded of it, especially with the massive target on its back as a two-time defending league champion. But the Capitales have passed every test asked of it as a Frontier team with flying colors so far, too — and so far this season, it looks as if Quebec isn’t letting its guard down with a three-peat on the line. 

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