Well, we’re down to 4 teams left in Major League Baseball. In the American League, it’s the Red Sox and Indians, not that big of a surprise although the Yankees were favored to beat Cleveland in the ALDS. However, the shocker comes in the National League where 2 teams that didn’t exist when I met my wife will battle it out for the pennant, the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Let’s take a look at each series with my picks as well.
Boston swept the Angels right out of the playoffs winning two of the games easily. Granted, LA wasn’t at full strength, but you can’t take anything away from the Sox, notably the efforts of Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, who were both in a word, terrific. Schilling has been moved up in the rotation to start game 2 and go head to head with Fausto Carmona, who was brilliant in game 2 vs. the Yankees. Speaking of the Indians/Yankees series, Cleveland’s pitching was clearly the key as they held the Yanks down for the most part, including holding Derek Jeter to a 3-17 with three crucial double plays.
The key to this series in my eyes will be the back ends of the bullpen and I’ll give Cleveland the slight edge with emerging stars in Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, and Rafael Betancourt as the bridge to erratic closer Joe Borowski. Boston’s strong as well with Hideki Okijama setting up Jonathan Papelbon, but the 6th and 7th inning are questionable with veterans Mike Timlin and Eric Gagne, both were inconsistent at best from August on. Francona could add Tim Wakefield to the roster and use him in a starting or a bullpen role. That’s what I’d do in a series that should go 7.
Both teams have great offenses, but I’ll give another slight edge to Cleveland, only because I feel they have a stronger 1-9. The Tribe showed the ability to play “small ball” in the Yankees series, and Boston usally goes for the big inning, a trademark of a ” sabermetric team”, who doesn’t like to give up outs at any cost. The Playoffs normally are won by teams willing to bunt, try to move runners over….etc. Just ask the Oakland A’s of the Early 2000s.
I’ll take the Indians in 7 in what should be a great series.
Over in the National League, I can only imagine what the odds were that these two teams would end up in the NLCS. I’ll tell you what, I expected to writing a Phillies/Cubs preview in this spot and neither team won a game in the playoffs.
When you talk about Arizona, you talk about a young team who plays Baseball the way we were all taught as kids. Pitching, defense, and fundamentals. Watch this team play, they do everything right. They hustle, they back each other up and they hit in the clutch. Brandon Webb is one of the top 3 pitchers in the league, and veterans like Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis are solid and keep the Snakes in the game. All of the young players have come up together through the minors and seem to really have great chemistry. Justin Upton is a star in the making and I recommend paying attention to everything he does out there on the field.
Colorado has become everybody’s darling, and why not. They have won 17 of 18 and roared by the Phillies handily in the first round. Another group of young players who came up through the ranks together. Guys like Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitski and Brad Hawpe may not be household names, but you can guarantee that the Diamondbacks know all about them. Pitching wise, Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Franklin Morales lead a staff who’s best days are ahead of them. That’s the scariest part, this team should be good for years.
I’m going to take the Diamondbacks to win in 6 here, thinking like I mentioned earlier that the Rockies will be the team to beat in the National League next year.
Enjoy the LCS, and we’ll be back next week to preview the World Series.
Filed under: MLB | Tagged: baseball, diamondbacks, indians, lcs, MLB, previews, red sox, rockies | 2 Comments »