It’s time for the Playoffs in MLB!
Game 163 is over and the MLB Postseason field is set. The Boston Red Sox have homefield advantage for as long as they stay alive thanks to the AL victory in the All-Star Game. On the NL side, St. Louis won the top seed, setting up for a rematch of the 2004 World Series if all plays out according to seeding. But this is October, where storylines are created, fortunes turn in a single swing of the bat, and you’re still alive until the final out is recorded, just ask Texas. Somewhere during the playoffs the scripts will be flipped and we will witness the magic that makes October the best postseason in sports.
The AL Playoff Field:
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox completed a worst-first turnaround under new manager John Farrell. The Red Sox can score runs in bunches and also have solid starting pitching to keep them in close games. Middle relief is the biggest flaw in the squad, but if Farrell can get to Koji Uehara, none have been more effective than the Red Sox closer in the second half of the season.
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers possess better starting pitching depth than any other AL team. Former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander may only be the fourth best starter in the rotation. Offensively, Detroit needs slugger Miguel Cabrera to get some of the power back in his bat that injuries have sapped from him. They are hoping that having the last day of the regular season off and the rest until Game 1 will be enough to heal him some from the elbow/hip/groin injuries which have been bothering him for the last couple months. The return of Jhonny Peralta from his Biogenesis suspension will be another story which will follow the Tigers as deep as they run in the playoffs.
Oakland Athletics: Oakland won their second straight AL West title with a little bit of everything. Their young pitching has carried them through the stretches where Joshs’ Donaldson and Reddick’s bats have been quiet. This is a team that believes its belief in itself can win them games, and it has. The Athletics are ready to make their mark in the playoffs this year, but the result may not be different than last year.
Cleveland Indians: Terry Francona would be a shoo-in for manager of the year were it not for his former pitching coach’s job with his former team. Francona’s job is almost more impressive, since the Indians were truly bad last season instead of just disinterested and poorly managed. The Indians are the surprise team of the playoffs, but they earned their spot as the first wild card and won’t be an easy out.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays pitching staff nearly matches the Tigers for rotational depth. That depth will be put to the test as Tampa already used David Price, who pitched a mammoth complete game against Texas to get them into the playoffs. Tampa needs some bats other than Evan Longoria to be able to progress in the postseason. Having the umps get the calls right in the field would help their offense as well.
The NL Playoff Field:
St. Louis Cardinals: St. Louis overtook Atlanta in September for the best NL record and held off Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the NL Central. Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals pitching staff lead a team that also led the NL in runs scored this season. The Cardinals can get it done in many ways, and as a team have more playoff experience than any other team in this years’ field.
Atlanta Braves: Atlanta held their lead in the NL East after Tim Hudson was lost for the year with a foot injury, but didn’t quite hold on to home field advantage through the NL playoffs. Getting contributions from Jason Heyward on his return from a broken jaw and both the Upton brothers will be key to their postseason hopes. The Braves young starting pitchers have the stuff to take them deep into the postseason, so long as the moments don’t shine too bright for them.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Los Angeles came on strong over the summer and stayed on through the end of the season. The Dodgers will have to play in October without Matt Kemp, though with pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke runs can afford to be few, as long as there’s at least one more than the other team. Keeping runs from scoring with their outfield defense may become an issue this postseason with Kemp’s loss.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates ended a 21 year losing record streak with their first playoff appearance since 1992. That was back when Jim Leyland smoked his cigarettes in the Pittsburgh dugout and Tim Wakefield was just a wide-eyed Bucs rookie. Andrew McCutcheon and AJ Burnett carried Pittsburgh to the first NL Wild Card and a long awaited home playoff game.
Cincinnati Reds: The Reds bashed their way to the second wild card, but won’t have the advantage their home bandbox provides. They know the Pirates well, but have to win one game in Pittsburgh after closing the season by being swept by the Pirates in Cincinnati. Joey Votto leads the Reds offense into the playoffs, but others must come through for them to survive Pittsburgh.
Cleveland Indians over Tampa Bay Rays – The Indians are starting rookie Danny Salazar, but that lack of familiarity should keep the Rays bats swinging and missing. Alex Cobb has been outstanding for Tampa as well, but the Indians bats will win this one late. The playoff intensity ratcheted up for Tampa last night, and a comedown is very possible.
Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians – Justin Masterson’s movement from the rotation to the bullpen severely tilts the pitching matchup in the Red Sox favor. The Red Sox will be on full rest and should be able to take advantage of the Indians, especially if they can increase pitch counts and get to the Cleveland relievers early in games. Red Sox in 4
Detroit Tigers over Oakland Athletics – Detroit’s power pitching will rack up the strikeouts against the A’s and the addition of Peralta should strengthen the Tigers lineup. Oakland needs to take advantage of the Tigers’ poor defense on the left side (Jose Iglesias excluded) if they want to have a chance in this playoff series. Tigers in 4
Detroit Tigers over Boston Red Sox – The Tigers righty heavy lineup will want to strike early and often to get the taste of the 20-4 beatdown at Fenway out of their heads. Both teams are patient and work up pitch counts to get to the bullpen, which are both teams’ Achilles heels. I think the Tigers’ starters are better equipped to pitch late into games, and Jim Leyland’s managerial experience will earn this Detroit team a return trip to the World Series. Tigers in 6
Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates – Cincinnati pulls off the one game must win in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates get a little too caught up in making the postseason to make any real noise once they are there. Cincinnati knows what to expect in a playoff situation and will be focused on winning what could be a high scoring affair.
Cincinnati Reds over St. Louis Cardinals – The Reds will ride their Wild Card win to a series victory over their NL Central rival Cardinals, much like St. Louis did last year. St. Louis has the better pitching, but the Red’s familiarity will nullify that advantage in the five game playoff series. The Cardinals won the season series against the Reds, but Cincinnati won 4 of the last 5 games they played. Reds in 4
Atlanta Braves over Los Angeles Dodgers – The Braves will ride their pitching staff to keep them close in games and use some late game heroics to attack closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t had much success against Atlanta (0-2, 10.38 ERA, .306 BAA in 9 appearances). The loss of Matt Kemp will test the Dodgers’ depth in the outfield and lineup too much for them to overcome. Braves in 5
Atlanta Braves over Cincinnati Reds – The Braves pitching will continue their postseason run and shut down the Reds offense. The Braves offense could come alive at Great American Ballpark, and should be able to close out the playoff series at home in Game 6 at the latest. Braves in 5
Detroit Tigers over Atlanta Braves – Detroit’s bats are just too much for the Braves, even with the pitchers hitting in Atlanta. The strikeout pitchers for the Tigers could make Atlanta look like the Houston Astros for a series. Jim Leyland gets a World Series victory with an American League team and all of the Illitch investments in the team pay off. Tigers in 6
Be there for to watch the Red Sox first playoff home game since 2009 with Our City Tickets. Catch all the MLB playoff action with tickets available to games throughout the postseason.
Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, BOSTON, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit, Jim Leyland, Los Angeles Dodgers, mlb, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, playoffs, postseason, red sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, tigers
Trackback from your site.