Well, if the playoffs are as exciting as the lead-in, we should be in for a dandy month of october! With less than 24 hours to go before the first pitch of the post-season, I don’t quite have time to detail my full playoff predictions today… but in brief, here’s how I see the first round:
AL: Detroit at New York. The Yanks don’t get enough respect really, for what they did this year. Yes, they spent like drunken sailors as always, but then so too did the Mets and White Sox . Enough said. The pinstripers endured declining productivity from the likes of Posada and oft-injured A-Rod, and a starting rotation best described as “C.C. then pray for 4 days of cloud pee-pee”, yet still won more than any other team in the American. On the other hand, the Tigers are almost an afterthought in most people’s minds despite winning their division by eight miles. They made maybe the best, almost unnoticed at the time trade of mid-season , acquiring Doug Fister from Seattle. Legitimate MVP candidate, of course, with Justin Verlander, but another less talked about in batting champion, 100+ RBI guy Miguel Cabrera. If the series goes full length, we’ll probably see Verlander vs Sabathia twice. To me, Verlander will hold off the Yankees, who will struggle a bit for runs with or without a banged up A-Rod. Detroit in 4.
Tampa at Texas. Two teams with good pitching. Tampa’s however, has gotten better through the summer while Texas’ has looked tired of late. Yet the Rangers’ hitting eclipses the Rays when it comes to hitting for average and hitting with power, and Adrian Beltre proved naysayers (like yours truly) wrong with a post-contract season to match the one leading upto free agency and Mike Napoli has proven toronto trade naysayers (like me) right with his stellar hitting, particularly in september. James Shields not only owns the Rangers , so to speak, (2-0, 0.53 ERA this year) but is the most under-rated starter in the league. Can the Rays get him into two games? Hmm, fact is, they probably won’t need to. Teams with this much momentum won’t be easily stopped unless there’s a long break, ala the rockies of ’07. Rays find ways to win day in, day out, ways to score runs with their best players only hitting around .240 . Sorry Cinnamon, and other Lone Star fans, your Rangers lose to Tampa Bay in 4.
St Louis at Philadelphia: as a Torontonian , of course my first question is “where would the jays be now if they still had Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter?” Both teams aces were of course toronto products and teammates here not too long ago. But that was then, this is now. St Louis has the momentum, to be sure, and have Albert Pujols playing like Albert Pujols lately, not to mention a rejuvenated Lance Berkmann. Phillies hitting is a bit suspect again this year, as last. Still, Halladay and Lee pitching, if necessary, four games out of five is tough to beat. Hoping for another Halladay no-hitter, expecting Philadelphia to win in 3.
Arizona at Milwaukee. I went against the grain back in spring by picking the Brew Crew to win their division. No one saw the D-backs winning anything more than Best Snake-themed Outfits. It’s nice that Aaron Hill and john mcDonald indeed get their opportunity to play in the playoffs, but with Milwaukee outbanging them and out-pitching them… Greinke, Marcum, wolf and Gallardo second to only the Phils Phab Phour, they’d better savour every moment. Because Milwaukee take it in 4.