MLB Playoffs: Each Contender's Nightmare October Matchup
In every sport, the postseason is about match-ups.
This was exemplified a year ago when the San Francisco Giants pitching staff neutralized the offensive firepower of the Phillies. The Giants beat the Phillies in six and rode their wave of momentum to their first World Series crown in the city of San Francisco.
In this article, I included the teams that would be in the postseason if the season ended today. I also didn't include potential World Series combatants; you have to get there first.
Boston Red Sox: Texas Rangers
In my opinion, Boston is the favorite to represent the American League in the World Series, but I can see the Texas Rangers giving the Sox plenty of fits.
Both teams pound the ball.
In terms of pitching, Boston has the better rotation, especially with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett anchoring the top of the staff. Erik Bedard has been fine, he'll probably be the No. 3 starter while John Lackey has been a disaster. He does have postseason experience.
With the acquisitions of Mike Adams and Koji Uehara at the trading deadline, and lefty Mike Gonzalez before the waiver deadline, the Rangers have a deeper pen.
If the offenses take over, the starters won't go long, but you'd expect Lester and Beckett to go deep into the games.
Boston will be the favorites in games when Lester and Beckett are on the bump, but when they're not, I'll take Texas and their depth in the pen.
If these two meet up in the ALCS or ALDS, it'll be a lot of fun. I'd take Boston in seven if they meet in the LCS.
New York Yankees: Boston Red Sox
Entering this past series against the Red Sox, the Yankees had struggled to beat Boston all year long (4-11) and CC Sabathia's numbers have been horrendous (0-4, 7.20 ERA).
Sabathia won Game 1 and the Yankees took two out of three to instill some confidence in their squad against their bitter rivals.
New York plays Boston in one more three-game set. The Red Sox are looking to match their all-time single season wins mark of 14 against the Bronx Bombers.
If the Yankees want to beat Boston, Sabathia will have to erase past postseason disappointments and set the pace. There's nothing in their rotation behind him that I'd trust in the postseason.
Detroit Tigers: Boston Red Sox
Detroit could be a huge spoiler with Justin Verlander on the hill, especially in a five-game series.
Anything can happen.
The Red Sox are 5-1 against the Tigers this season.
Texas Rangers: Boston Red Sox
The Rangers match up very well against the two top guns of the American League, Boston and New York, due to their offensive firepower and revamped bullpen.
I already touched on the Red Sox and Rangers in my Boston slide. If the Rangers can win some games against Lester and Beckett, they'll have a legitimate shot at beating them.
Philadelphia Phillies: Atlanta Braves
If there's one team that can pull a giant upset like San Francisco did against Philadelphia last October, it's the Atlanta Braves. They're 6-6 against the Phillies this season, and they'll meet again on Tuesday.
Phillies fans remember the classic 1980 NLCS match-up against the Houston Astros.
The Phillies won a low scoring and tight five-game series 3-2. Three of the games went into extra innings. If these two meet up in the NLCS, I can see a series similar to that one in terms of the games being close and low scoring.
All in all, the Braves are a mini version of the Phillies.
They don't have the sexy names, but they have starting pitching depth in Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens, power in the middle of the lineup with Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones, and now a prototypical lead-off hitter in Michael Bourn.
The Braves do have a significant advantage in the pen with Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters leading the way; but with the Phillies' four aces, they're going to go deep into games. Atlanta will be favored in extra-inning games.
If these two meet in the NLCS, I'd take the Phillies in six, but most Phillies fans thought this last year against the Giants.
Atlanta Braves: Milwaukee Brewers
I'll go with the Brewers here because if I'm an Atlanta fan, I'd rather play a seven-game series with Philadelphia than a five-game set against Milwaukee due to the Brewers having the home-field advantage. They're a MLB best 50-19 at home this season.
They are 5-3 against the Brew Crew this season, but these two clubs haven't squared off since May 6.
Milwaukee's a completely different squad now. They have a solid rotation with Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf and two behemoths in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
This will be the best of the MLB Division Series; I'd take the Brewers in five.
Milwaukee Brewers: Philadelphia Phillies
I'm really interested to see the four-game series coming up in Milwaukee against Philadelphia this coming Thursday. Let's see how the Phillies fare in Miller Park, where the Brewers have been so great this year.
Like the Braves, the Brewers have depth in the rotation and a couple big boppers in the middle of the lineup. Their bullpen isn't too shabby, either.
But just like an Atlanta/Philadelphia NLCS, I'd take the Phillies in six.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Philadelphia Phillies
They've been a great story this year, but beating the Phillies in the NLDS would be a daunting task.
Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are the most underrated one-two punch in baseball; they also don't have any postseason experience. As for most of the other players, the only experience they have is in the 2007 run where they reached the NLCS.
The Phillies have postseason experience, the Diamondbacks have very little. You'd think the Phillies would sweep or win in four, but like I stated before, anything can happen.