MLB: Divisional Series Preview
One hundred sixty-two games was enough for seven of the eight playoff teams this year. However, we won’t know the winner of the one-game playoff between Detroit and Minnesota until tomorrow night. For now, though, we’ll take a look at playoff scenarios for both teams against the Yankees, in addition to the Red Sox-Angels, Phillies-Rockies, and Cardinals-Dodgers series that start on Wednesday or Thursday.
In a rematch of last year’s ALDS, which the Sox took 3-1 from the AL West Champion Angels, one of the most important things to look at is that not much has changed between either of these two teams. Both teams still have the same core groups of players, with the exception of Mark Teixeira no longer being in LA of A. The pitching matchups are essentially the same as last year’s series as well. I think it can also be said that Boston has upgraded its offense slightly more from last year with the addition of Victor Martinez, while the Angels have lost the aforementioned Teixeira and also have had limited contributions from Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter. All of this adds up to a return trip to the ALCS for The Nation.
Prediction: Boston in Four
This series is also a rematch from the 2007 NLDS, in which the surging Rockies stunned the NL East champion Phils en route to the World Series. The Rockies are hot going into the playoffs once again, but this year the Phillies have the combination of offense and good starting pitching to stop Colorado quickly. Philadelphia looks like they’ll have the advantage in the pitching matchups in every game of this series. Factor in the Rockies’ struggles to hit away from Coors Field, and I’d be stunned to see a team with the rotation of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ lose in the opening round. Part of me wants the Rockies to go all the way this year because it would be the crowning achievement in Todd Helton’s career, but I just don’t see it happening.
Prediction: Phillies sweep Rocktober, 3-0
It seems like April and May are years ago and the LA Dodgers are no longer the most dominant team in the National League, but the St. Louis Cardinals have been the NL team of the second half of the season, turning a divisional race into a runaway after the All-Star Break. The Cardinals might have the top two pitchers in the Senior circuit right now in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, as well as a very good No. 3 guy in Joel Piniero. Offensively, I’d be happy to take an offense anchored by Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday over most other teams in the league. The Dodgers will put up a tough fight, and Manny will be Manny in the playoffs, which is very dangerous for the Cards, but I think St. Louis will pull this series out based on the strength of its pitching.
Prediction: Cards in Five
I’m slightly annoyed that I have to write about three teams instead of two in this series, if only because I have to eat my words with respect to the Minnesota Twins, who have done the improbable and come back from three back with four to play to force a one-game playoff with the Tigers in the Metrodome. I won’t lie, I am now rooting for the Homer Hankie waving faithful of Minnesota for two reasons: because it’s the only way to legitimate a one-game playoff when the Twins won the season series 11-7 and also because I would much rather play the Twins than the Tigers because the Twinkies have had no success against the Yankees in the last few years. Yes, I am letting my bias show right now and no, I do not care. That being said, it would be disastrous for New York if the Yankees failed to beat either of these teams after going a combined 11-1 against them both during the season and after winning 103 games this year.
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