MLB AL and NL Championship Series’ Predictions
Remember that game they’ve been playing for over 100 years with a stick and a ball every summer? You know, the game that used to be America’s national pastime before the NFL came along and stole the show?
That’s right, Major League Baseball is still being played and they are getting ready for the American and National League Championship Series’.
The AL and NL Division Series’ are in the books with the Texas Rangers advancing for the first time in team history to play the New York Yankees, everyone’s favorite to either love or hate.
In the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies are into the second round for the third straight season and they face off against the San Francisco Giants.
The first round match-ups were great – no thanks to instant replay. We watched the Cincinnati Reds commit uncharacteristic errors costing themselves a game. The Atlanta Braves did what they did best during the Bobby Cox era and exited the playoffs early.
The Minnesota Twins might as well quote Pedro Martinez when referring to the Yankees, “Call the Yankees my daddy.” Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays proved that the home field can be a disadvantage.
I think we are in for two great match-ups; in one series we get marquee pitching and in the other we could be knocked from our sofas in a slug-fest for the majority of the games.
American League Championship Series
In the series against the Twins we were all wondering how the pitching would fare for the Yanks. Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte made people question whether C.C. Sabathia is really the ace on this staff.
The bats came through when they needed them, especially the game 1 home run by Mark Teixeira that looked like a Tiger Woods tee shot. Clutch RBIs from Lance “Fat Elvis” Berkman and Curtis Granderson will almost always give the Yankees’ lineup a boost when they still have to pitch to Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Teixeira.
The Yankees have A.J. Burnett scheduled as the game 4 starter, which has to make every member of the Rangers and their fans anticipate that batting practice session.
They are sending Sabathia to the hill in game 1, followed by Hughes and Pettitte. Thanks to the Rays taking the Rangers to five games, Cliff Lee won’t start again until game 3, giving the Yankees an optimistic outlook to getting off to a good start.
The Yankees struggle against left-handed pitching which should present some interesting match-ups in games 1 & 3.
The Rangers are sending C.J. Wilson to the bump in game 1. Wilson did his best Lee impersonation against the Rays in game 2 throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts. The Rangers will be looking to exercise home field advantage for the first time after losing both home games in the first round.
Lee continues to be amazing in the post-season, winning both of his starts in the series against the Rays. The thing that worries me about Lee is that he has looked abysmal at times when pitching in Texas – where he would be pitching game 6 if necessary.
I am still concerned about how Neftali Feliz will respond in a tight one-run-game in the ninth inning. This is obviously not a questionable area for the Yankees since they have the greatest closer of all time.
If Texas can get quality starts out of Tommy Hunter and Colby Lewis the Rangers will be sitting pretty.
Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz were hotter than the recent Playboy centerfold and will need to continue that kind of play if they want to beat the Yankees. They will also need more production out of Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, and Michael Young.
However, if they continue to get stolen bases from Bengie Molina it means that either hell has frozen over or the baseball gods feel it’s the Rangers turn.
My X factor on the Rangers is Jeff Francoeur. A couple of clutch hits from him could mean the series for the Rangers.
I have the Yankees winning the series in seven games. Even though Lee will have several days’ rest before his first start against the Yankees, I feel the 120 pitch outing against the Rays will be an issue. The Yankees have the option if needed to march Sabathia out there three times and even if they don’t, that Pettitte guy has won a couple of games in October.
National League Championship Series
The Phillies started the playoffs with a statement from Roy Halladay throwing a no-hitter against the Reds. People who have been around baseball for many years called it the most dominating performance they have ever witnessed and that’s after he threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins earlier in the season.
Cole Hamels returned to World Series MVP form. He might have the second best modern mullet in this series behind Tim Lincecum, but he also might be the best pitcher in this series.
Roy Oswalt looked shaky in his start, but the Phillies were bailed out by the Reds’ inability to stop making mistakes. Oswalt will bounce back nicely in this series.
In the only save opportunity for the Phillies, Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless inning. I still get worried about the chances of him having Albert Pujols flashbacks and giving up a home run that is hit so far it should count for an extra run.
Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Jayson Werth are going to need to find their swings in a hurry. They all looked as if they would have struggled in coach pitch.
The slicked back hair of Chase Utley not only makes him look like a hit man, but RBIs in all three games make him an assassin at the plate.
The second best pitching performance was the debut of Lincecum and his complete game with 14 strikeouts. Lincecum may have the body of a high school girl yet to hit puberty, but has the stuff that few can match in MLB.
Matt Cain threw a nice ballgame until the best playoff beard, Brian Wilson, came from the bullpen and blew the save. Cain was followed by gems thrown by Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner to close the series. These are two guys the Giants need desperately to keep it going.
Andres Torres and Pablo Sandoval have to make better contact with the ball in this series – they combined for 8 strikeouts in 22 at-bats.
Buster Posey had a solid start to his playoff career going 6-for-16 and taking the stolen base to a new level. In game 1 he stole second and should have been called out, but wasn’t and later in the inning was knocked in by Cody Ross for the only run of the game.
Ross is a guy that must keep it going for the Giants to win this series. Aubrey Huff continues to prove he was a nice addition to the team. Pat Burrell may not get many hits, but when he does they sure are big ones. All of these guys need to continue to contribute.
If you like pitching this is your series. All six starters in the first three games are guys who have either won Cy Young awards before or I could see them winning it. I see the Phillies winning it in six games. Both teams have tremendous pitching, but in the end I have to believe that the Philly bats will prevail. This leaves us with a rematch of last years World Series, Yankees vs. Phillies.
Please come back for a preview and prediction on the World Series!