Red Sox vs. Angels
The Angels are simply better in almost all aspects of the game here. While the Red Sox have talent they are just outmatched in this one. Their pitching is far superior to the Red Sox. With Lackey, Santana, Weaver, and Saunders who all have E.R.A.’s of under 4.5 going for them in the first four games, they will keep themselves in it/ahead for the entire game. Then comes the bullpen. The 8th inning with Shields and 9th with K-Rod is simply unmatched in the MLB.
X Factor: Speed.
In case you needed anything more, the Angels have one thing going for them that you can’t say about any other team(with the possible exception of the Rays). And that is speed. With the ability to steal bases, go first to third on most singles, and take the extra base whenever possible, this team is able to manufacture runs to support their pitching staff like none other. The Angels don’t get hot and cold because they don’t depend solely on hitters or power, they consistently manufacture runs. That is why they will move on to the ALCS.
Prediction: Halos in 4
Brewers vs. Phillies
This one should be a good, close match-up. The Phillies are a good team and came on strong at the end of the year while the Brewers had some trouble closing it out. The Brewers are young and inexperienced while the Phillies have been here before. Howard is swinging the bat like the MVP we know him to be and the rest of the squad is filling in where necessary. I gave this one to the Phillies on the grounds of their experience and the Brewers late season struggles.
X Factor: Gallardo of the Brewers
Game one should be a telling sign for this match-up as Cole Hamels takes on Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo has been hurt since May and had two knee surgeries in that time. The Brewers need him to pitch well as he is the most likely candidate for a game 5 if it comes down to that. Gallardo is scheduled to pitch two games if need be and the Brewers need him to be great to beat Hamels.
Prediction: Fightin’ Phils in 5
Dodgers vs. Cubs
This was the toughest of all four match-ups to call. The Cubs have been good, in fact one of the best, all season but the Dodgers have been red hot since the acquisition of Manny Ramirez and with the veteran leadership of Torre driving the team they will be hard to beat. However, the Cubs have the best record in the NL for a reason and part of that reason is their pitching. The saying “pitching wins championships” is one of the truest sayings in baseball and the Cubs defiantly have the edge there. Their five starting pitchers have a combined record of 64-31 to the Dodgers 53-44.
X Factor: Dodgers bats
Hitting tends to run hot and cold and while recently the Dodgers have been hotter than the face of the sun, it will be a test to see if they can keep that up against some of the best pitchers in the league. If the Dodgers can hit like they did in September then I would give this series to them, but since I don’t think they will, it goes to the Cubs.
Prediction: Cubbies in 4
Rays vs. White Sox
The Rays have a lot of young talent but absolutely no experience in the playoffs. For more than half of their club this is the first October where they will be doing more than sitting on the couch or hitting the golf course. But shhh! Don’t tell them that. Somehow Joe Maddon has them believing they belong here (which, don’t get me wrong, they do). The Rays are the clear favorite on paper but the question remains of whether they will step it up in the clutch.
X Factor: White Sox pitching.
If the White Sox can keep themselves in the games with their pitching I have a feeling they will be able to pull the series out, if they let the Rays get the early lead, its all over. I’m not sure they can and that’s why I’m going with the Rays to advance.
Prediction: Rays in 4