Monday, September 29, 2008

Division Series - Preview and Predictions

Angels - Red Sox

Quite possibly the biggest consequence of the Beckett injury is not Beckett having his start being pushed back to Game 3, it's bumping up Dice-K in the rotation meaning that if the series goes five then Dice-K is the man on the hill with everything on the line next Wednesday in Anaheim. I can't say I'm wildly enthused about those prospects. Therefore, I say Sox in 4 if they can split the first two games on the road or Angels in 5 if they can't. I know I'm hedging my bets, but whatever, it's how I feel.

Rays - White Sox or Twins

No word yet on the Rays playoff rotation but if they go by results and not names then you'd have to think their top three would be Shileds/Garza/Kazmir. I am on record as saying that Garza is poised to become Josh Beckett Jr. this postseason if his team can stick around long enough. There is just something about that guy that screams "Big Game Pitcher". I could be totally wrong, but I doubt it.

The big difference between this series and the Angels - Red Sox one is that due to the schedule, each team will need to use 4 starters. In a sense this hurts Tampa Bay because they only get to use one their top three for two potential starts instead of two of their top three. Luckily their number number four guy whether it be Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson is plenty serviceable. So how do I see their series panning out?

Well, if it's the White Sox then I say Rays in a sweep. If it's the Twins I see them riding Francisco Liriano to a victory in Game 1, losing Game 2, and then taking both of their home games to win the series in 4. That's right folks, it's either Rays in three (if the White Sox) or Twins in four (if the Twins).

Now if Liriano needs to pitch the play-in game then all bets are off and I'm going Rays in 4. I think I covered about every possible outcome there. I know, I'm lame.

Phillies - Brewers

As far as starting pitching goes, both of these teams are pretty similar. They each have a stud lefty at the front of their rotation and the rest of the rotation is filled out by guys whose sole job it is to keep the game close so the offense can win it. Both teams are good offensively too so it has worked for them, but I give the edge to the Phillies because they are really, really good offensively. The Phillies also have an outstanding bullpen anchored by a closer that went 41/41 in save opportunities while the Brewers bullpen is atrocious to be kind.

While CC Sabathia has been sub-human in his efforts to get Milwaukee into the playoffs I feel like he is probably going to hit the same wall he hit last year in the postseason much sooner than later. Plus, as I said the Brewers bullpen is awful and Philly's lineup is great meaning that at least one game is destined to swing Philadelphia's way in the eighth or ninth inning.

I'm tempted to say that Philly will sweep this series, but I want to believe that Milwaukee's home crowd can will them into a couple of victories there. Because of that, I'm saying it's Philly in five with the home team winning every game.

Cubs - Dodgers

Sure, the Cubs do not have anybody on their team as good as Manny Ramirez. So what. They still have a really good offense that scored 855 runs in the regular season or 155 more than the Dodgers or second in MLB behind the Rangers. The Cubs also happen to have a shutdown bullpen with that former ND receiver, Carlos Marmol, and Kerry Wood. And their starters are really good too as their top three guys (Harden, Dempster, and Ted Lilly, sorry Big Z but you coast on reputation and craziness) all average over 8 K's per 9 innings compared to the Dodgers who have just have one of their top 3 guys with a similar K rate, Chad Billingsley. Isn't the recipe for October success a good lineup, a good rotation, and some shutdown late inning relievers? I think so. Cubs in 4 just because I think Manny can win one game for LA on his own.

So there you go. I hedged in a lot of places and for that I apologize, but you gotta respect the preview.

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