Note: Sorry for the delay in this post, most was already written but I spend the majority of the day on the road to West Virginia where we are taking some time to relax in between my assignments. I look forward to getting some rest and recreation, some good PT, a bunch of writing and take in a Marshall University football game while here.
It’s that time of the year again sports fans. After picking the Division and Wild Card winners it is time to get down and dirty as Padre Steve makes his picks to win the divisional races. Last year I I did pretty well. During the playoffs and World Series I only missed one series picking the Angels to beat the Yankees in the ALDS based on their seasonal record in head to head games, especially those in Anaheim. That was the only wrong series pick that I made and when it came to the World Series I only made one mistake picking the Yankees to win game one versus game two. When it came down the last game it was as if I had inside information, if you don’t believe me take a look at those posts, but I digress.
As I said last year I always try to be dispassionate about my picks even if I am for a particular team. This year I am praying that the Giants go all the way but this will not influence how I predict the series that they play in. So here are my picks to get to the ALCS and NLCS from the division series.
In the American League: Minnesota (94-68) versus New York (95-67). The Yankees will take the Twins in 4 games. The Twins have been the best team in the American league during the back half of the season and the Yankees have done well but have not been spectacular during the stretch. The Yankees are starting to show their age but the Twins have not been able to beat the Yankees with a stick. They are 2 and 14 against the bombers in the past two years and the Yankees have dominated the Twinkies in the playoffs in a very ugly manner. I think that the Twins win one game but that the Yankees take them in four, though I cannot rule out a sweep.
Texas (90-72) versus Tampa (96-66): The Rangers will take this in four. The Rays have the best record in the American League but were 28-28 from August 2nd until the end of the season. The Rangers were marginally better but play in a weak division whereas the Rays won the toughest division in baseball where ever the last place team had the best record in the division in the same time span. However, it comes down to Cliff Lee and hitting. The Rays starting pitching is marginally better in their ERA but their ERA was much lower post All-Star break than before and they are hitting only .236 since the All-Star break. Contrast this with the Rangers who are hitting .274 since the break and 3.89 ERA. Cliff Lee ate up the Rays today and the free swinging Rangers are tailor made to win in the Trop. If the Rangers take game two in Tampa the Rays are toast when they go to Arlington.
The National League: Philadelphia (97-65) versus Cincinnati (91-71). The Phillies have the best starting pitching in baseball and have been phenomenal since the beginning of August, the best record in the Majors. The Reds are a hitting machine leading the league in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515) and home runs (188) but have a history of being dominated by the trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Today Halliday pitched a no-hitter against the Reds and I expect that Oswalt and Hamels will also dominate. Bottom line the Phillies have the chance to get a sweep. I think that the Reds may win one at home but that the Phillies pitching will dominate and that their hitting will be more than adequate to deal with the rather pedestrian Reds pitching staff. The most interesting thing will be seeing flamethrower Aroldis Chapman face Ryan Howard and the Phillies in the late innings.
Finally we come down to San Francisco (92-70) and Atlanta (91-71). The Braves go into this banged up without Chipper Jones or and without much in the way of hitting but want to win for their legendary Manager Bobby Cox. Their leading RBI producer is Brian McCann who has 77 for the entire year, 32nd in the NL. The teams are evenly matched in hitting but the Giants have the best ERA in the NL and were even better in the second half of the season. Pitching matchups favor the Giants and with the first two games at home they have the edge. Their pitching staff also has the best road ERA in the NL. The Giants have continued to improve during the second half of the season adding key players and the Braves as I said are pretty dinged up. Add to this the fact that in September and October the Giants were 19-10 while the Braves limped across the line with a 14-16 record for the same period. This is a harder series to call because of how evenly matched the teams are but I pick the Giants in four based on roster strength and how they are trending though the Braves might take it to five before falling to the Giants.
Of course I could miss the whole thing, but I try to take the emotion out and look at the stats and in most occasions the stats tell the truth. I don’t think that I am missing anything and the ALCS should be the Yankees against the Rangers and the NLCS the Phillies against the Giants. I will analyze those series when these are complete and factor in any roster moves and injuries incurred during the divisional series as well as how the teams are trending.