Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And so it begins...

Apologies to the Padres fans who contribute to this blog, but the playoffs are upon us and its time to get on with it.

Here are my predictions for how the Division Series will shape up:

American League

Red Sox v. Angels

The Red Sox tied for the best record in the American League. Josh Beckett has been Cy Young caliber all year and while Matsuzaka and Schilling stumbled after the All-Star break, they’ve shaped up down the stretch. The Sox defense is solid; Ortiz is leading the offense again; and even Mr. Listless, JD Drew has picked it up going into the playoffs.

The Angels stumbled into the playoffs. They had the advantage of a weak division that didn’t give them much of a run all season except the brief appearance of Seattle in August.

So why am I so worried?

The Angels run like crazy, which is always bad for the Sox. They have the superior manager, and they are an all around different team than the one the Sox faced early in the season and beat handily.

My prediction? Angels in 5. God, I hope I’m wrong.

Indians v. Yankees

Just a few weeks ago, I was telling people the Yankees were going to win the World Series this year. That could still happen, but I’m leaning that way less.

The Yankees have more playoff experience than any other team, their manager is proven, Rivera can still shut ‘em down, Jeter (how I loathe him!) is one of the most clutch players in the game, and none of these things have helped them in the past 4 years. Six years if you’re counting years since they won it all. Time and again, younger, fresher teams with better pitching have beaten the Yankees.

You don’t get much younger and fresher than the Cleveland Indians, and the Tribe boasts some powerful pitching as well. CC Sabathia may win the AL Cy Young, and Fausto Carmona has lived up to his expectations. The Indians did this year what they were supposed to do last year – let their youth and talent carry them to a heck of a lot of wins. (They actually tied the Sox for the best record in MLB, but since the Sox had won the season series, Sox got the benefits).

My prediction? Indians in 5. The Yankees will not go quietly into that dark night, but they will go.

National League

Cubs v. Diamondbacks

My NL-IQ is admittedly and regrettably lacking, but I’ll do the best I can here.

Nothing like a dugout punch-out between your starting pitcher and the catcher to jumpstart a season. The Cubs were languishing but seem to have picked it up not long after Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett duked it out. (At least that’s how I remember it. Again, the IQ here is low). They came from behind and handily took the NL Central away from the upstart Brewers.

The D-backs had a pretty nifty come-from-behind division win as well, though. The team started with few expectations and then rattled off a torrid mid-summer through the end of the season.

So who’s momentum will carry them further? Looking at their stats, the Cubs have more players batting over .300, their pitchers have better ERAs and more wins. Plus I think Chicago’s North Siders present a better 10th man than all of Phoenix.

My prediction? Cubs in 4.

Rockies v. Phillies

OK, I said we were moving forward, but let’s shed one more tear for the Padres. That game was one of the most heartbreaking I’ve ever seen, and I’m a Red Sox fan! San Diegans are lucky to have that mild disposition; in a lot of other cities, you’d have people lined up on the Coronado Bridge right now.

But on to the task at hand. The Phillies are kind of sneaking into this thing thanks to the Mets collapse, though they could have won the Wild Card if not for that. Jimmy Rollins had a great year, as did Chase Utley (eventually). Ryan Howard blasted a mammoth 47 homeruns. They have a hell of a lineup. Their pitching leaves something to be desired though. Ace Cole Hamels won 15 games with a 3.39 ERA, but after him, the ERAs climb into the 4s and the wins barely crack the double digits.

The Rockies came out of nowhere. Aside from Todd Helton, a lot of people probably couldn’t name one player. But they’re a strong hitting team, and while their pitchers' ERAs are high for a playoff team, a lot of that probably comes from pitching in Coors Field. The Rox got hot at just the right time, which may be why so many Wild Card teams have won the World Series in recent years.

My prediction? Rockies in 5. I’m not sure they’ll make it all the way to the World Series, but they are flying very hard right now. Sorry Phillies fans, you’ll always have ’80.


Red said...

I'm going Red Sox/Indians and Cubs/Phillies with the Sox and the Cubs in the World Series and Cubs winning the whole thing. It's time...

Liz said...

Are the Cubs really that good this year?

Red said...

No, but I wish them to be