Saturday, October 1, 2011

MLB Playoff Predictions: Division Series

Here are our predictions for the American League and National League Division Series matchups:

Jimmi's picks:

Rays over Rangers 3-1
-Tampa Bay seems to be peaking at just the right time of the year. Meanwhile, the Rangers will try to get back to the World Series without a key member of last season's magical run -- Cliff Lee. Even with one of the league's top run-producing offenses, does Texas have enough pitching depth and defense (3rd most errors in AL during season) to get by the pesky Wild Card winners? I think not. Look for the Rays' youth, defensive prowess and recent momentum to carry them on to the ALCS.

Yankees over Tigers 3-1
-Although Detroit did post the best record in baseball during the month of September (20-6), their rotation doesn't seem to match up well against the Yanks. Outside of Justin Verlander, I don't believe there's anyone on their staff that can quiet New York's high-octane offense -- an offense that scored the second-most runs of any team in MLB through the regular season. Also, who can pick against a team that includes Derek Jeter at shortstop and Mariano Rivera at the backend of the 'pen?

Phillies over Cardinals 3-0
-St. Louis faces an uphill climb in having to face the powerful trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the first three games. Yes, the Cards did win the season series over Charlie Manuel's club 6-3 during the year, but five of those wins came at Busch Stadium. Should the Redbirds already be down 2-0 by the time they return home for game three, it may be all she wrote with Hamels on the hill for Philly. Anything less than a sweep from Philadelphia here would surprise me.

Brewers over Diamondbacks 3-2
-Milwaukee edges out Arizona in probably the most entertaining division series of the four. With both teams boasting top five scoring offenses, expect a slugfest from these two division winners. In the end though, I expect the Brew Crew to survive and advance thanks to homefield advantage, star power (Ryan Braun & Prince Fielder), and slightly better starting pitching.

Will's picks:


Rays over Rangers 3-0
-We all know how Tampa Bay got this far with their wild run over the last month and Boston’s all-time great collapse. The Rays clearly have the “baseball gods” on their side and I expect that to continue throughout this series. While the Texas Rangers did win 14 out of their last 16 and 6 in a row to finish the season, it was relatively quite. It was under the radar in the national media and lacks the playoff intensity that the Rays were able to experience over the last month. Manager Joe Maddon looks like a genius after rookie Matt Moore’s dominating performance in game 1. Look for Maddon to continue to outduel Ron Washington. As much as I’d like to see Josh Hamilton and the Rangers do well and move along into the next round, the Rangers will be lucky to win 1 game in this series.

Yankees over Tigers 3-1
-This is a hard matchup to pick. We all learned about the new rainout rule during the postseason during game 1. Instead of calling it an official game after 5 innings or starting a new game if it didn’t make it through the 5th, play is postponed and picked up right where it left off. This delay gives the Yankees an advantage. Yankees Ace C.C Sabathia could pitch 2 games in this series, while potential CY Young winner Justin Verlander will only pitch 1 time. The Yankees may be getting old, but that also means they have more experience. You can’t count out the postseason heroics of legends Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera along with other stars. The Yankees have the better rotation but the series win will be fueled by their offense.


Brewers over Diamondbacks 3-1
-Both teams won 7 of the last 10 games in the regular season and come in with high expectations. Being from small market area’s both teams come in under the national radar as teams. Some of the players have tried to change that. Ian Kennedy is a potential Cy Young Candidate and will start Game 1 for the Diamondbacks. The Brewers Ryan Braun, who narrowly lost the batting title and will garner some MVP votes, will join his teammate and All Star Slugger Prince Fielder in what could be a slugfest. The Diamondbacks are truly the surprise team in the playoffs. The Brewers have a clear home field advantage. They lead the majors with a home record of 57-24. Expect it to be incredibly loud if the roof is closed at Miller Park. The D-backs were 1 of only 3 teams to have a winning record and at Brewers home field so I’ll give them a shot. But not much of one.

Cardinals over Phillies 3-2
-I saved this one for last on purpose. That’s right. You read it correctly. I am picking the upset of the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies. This season by the Cardinals is similar to the 2006 season in which they won the World Series with absolutely no expectations of doing so. They had a record of 83-78 that year. While this year’s 90-72 record is better it is still the worst record of all the teams that made the playoffs. Just like the Rays, the Cardinals have been experiencing play-off style games in terms of intensity and importance over the last month. They also needed some luck as Atlanta folded after having a huge lead. Future Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and the Cardinals have overcome injuries and losing streaks throughout the entire season and I believe this will help them. All of the struggles have lead to what looks like great team chemistry. With no expectations, which allow them to fly under the radar, I think this team is in a position to pull off the upset. It’s a crazy thought that the Phillies could go out in the first round. But hey, that’s playoff baseball isn’t it?

So there you have it. Who are your picks to advance to the League Championship Series?

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