The Las Tunas Woodcutters have never been one of the better Cuban teams, having some pretty bleak years at the bottom of the standings. The last year they made the playoffs was in the 2006/7 season when they lost to the Villa Clara Orangeman in the quarterfinals. Prior to that they had spent a number of seasons with the worst record in the Cuban League. The playoff appearance in 2006/7 is one of only two times they have qualified for the post season since 1961. After 51 games in the season they are still hanging with the Orangemen, tied for first place.
The team is led by sluggers Joan Pedroso (.256, 11, 35), Yosvani Alarcon (.346, 8, 26), Daniel Castro (.346, 9, 48) and Alexander Guerrero (.277, 9, 28). The 48 RBIs from Daniel Castro are fourth in the league. At the top of the order they have Andres Quiala (.321, 0, 25) who leads the team in runs scored with 32 and has stolen 11 of 13 bases. In a league not known for their prolific basestealers that figure puts him sixth in the league, four behind the league leaders. Castro with his 42 walks and Quiala with his 37 are both in the top ten in walks.
The Woodcutters starting pitching has been four deep with Yoelvis Cruz (8-3, 3.68) and Dael Mejias (6-4, 3.43) sharing the ace role, but getting strong support from Yudiel Rodriguez (7-3, 3.47) and Darien Nunez (3-3, 2.89). The ten complete games between Cruz and Mejias are more than all the Cuban team totals, except Ciego de Avila, who have 11 complete games. Rigoberto Cabrera (1-2, 8 svs, 2.13 ERA) has been effective as their closer, even though half of the runs he has given up have been unearned.
Las Tunas is playing in a tough Western Division where only two of the eight teams find themselves under .500. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs and the sixth place team in the league, the Granma Stallions are only five and a half games back of first. The Stallions are led by slugger Alfredo Despaign, who with his 21 homeruns is on his way to break the season record of 33 that was broken by both Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu last year. At 51 games they are more than halfway through their season. At his current pace Alfredo is set to hit 37 homeruns.
In the Eastern division, the battle is between the traditional power Industriales, who missed out on the playoffs last year and Matanzas, who also missed out on the playoffs. Lurking about four games back are three teams who made the playoffs last year, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus and the defending champs Pinar del Rio. Another surprise team, who were supposed to have been elimintated after the split of La Habana, are the Metropolitanos, who are only a half a game back of Pinar del Rio and Sancti Spiritus for that last playoff spot. Can this be expected to last? The two teams that were made up of players from La Habana have only Island de Juventad that is keeping them from last place.