I can be wrong with the best of them! Disagree with me? Lets hear about it in the comments!
New York Yankees Vs Cleveland Indians
The Yankees rise from the dead has been nothing short of amazing, but like most Zombies they are only so good for awhile before the smell starts to make people sick and limbs start to fall off (See Roger Clemens). That being said, I don’t think the Yankees have enough pitching to get them through all three rounds of the playoffs.
In the Cleveland series, the Yankees will rely heavily on Wang and Pettite in Games 1 and 2 to get them up 2-0. If Cleveland can get 1 game in New York they will get to face the fearsome injury plagued pitching of some combination of Clemens/Hughes/Mussina in Games 3 and 4. If desperate the Yankees will bring back Wang in Game 4 and Pettite in 5, but pitching on short rest does little for most starters regular or post season.
The Yankees line-up can mash, but they are lefty heavy. In a series where they would see CC Sabathia twice this could be their downfall. Sure A-Rod and Jeter hit CC well, but don’t expect either of them to get a lot to hit. The Indians line-up is a bit of an enigma, lots of talent which doesn’t always seem to work out. The Indians offense is streaky, which could be a big factor, either way in the Series.
In the Bullpen the Yankees have Jobba and Rivera. The Indians have (Yikes!) Joe Borowski as their closer, who had a lot of saves and a lot of bad games. Borowski is not a guy you are going to bring in to get you out of an 8th inning jam, which doesn’t happen often since the Indians have two great set-up men. The Yankees starters have to get to Jobba and Mariano. The Middle relief corp strikes fear into the hearts of no one and even Rivera has had an off year. Plus Jobba Chamberlain is due for a fall, most rookies do at some point, I just hope for his sake it doesn’t happen in Game 5 with the game, series and season on the line. It could screw him up for a long time.
Prediction: Indians in 4
Anahiem Angels Vs Boston Red Sox
The Angels M*A*S*H unit has arrived in Boston. Gary Mathews Jr, Bartolo Colon can’t play, Vlad can only DH and Chone Figgins finished the season in a huge slump and is banged up. Garrett Anderson has an eye infection and swollen eye but is expected to play. More good news? Jon Lackey pitches badly against the Red Sox and especially in Fenway Park. This means the Angels will have to play super baseball to get ahead of the Sox in Fenway.
The Red Sox have a lot of questions coming in, but by and large they are healthy. The have Oritz (who banged up hit nearly .400 in September) and Manny, their pitching is pretty rested and with the extra days off thanks to having the best record in baseball (and a tie breaker with Cleveland) will not have to toss out a 4th starter. It also means the Red Sox can go for broke in each game with the Bullpen, using Okajima, Papelbon, Gagne, Timlin, Delcarman and Lopez to their hearts content. It also shorten the game significantly for the starters, who will be led by Josh Beckett arguably the best pitcher this season. Games 2 should be interesting with Kelvim Escobar (Who has been battling a sore shoulder) and his sky high talent, but often ineffective control and Dice-K the big international free agent brought in by the Red Sox. It should be interesting to note that the longer Dice-K goes between starts, the better he is (3.66 ERA six or more days as opposed to 5.29 on normal rest). Game 3 could be a mis-match with Jared Weaver goes against Curt Shilling. Schilling always shows up for big games and Jared has to make sure he pitches like his brother Jeff did last year for the Cardinals. Still none of the Angels pitchers have good records against the Red Sox and the Red Sox handled the Angels well during their 10 games over the season.
I think the Red Sox line-up will get to the Angels starters early and often and force the Angels to have to play catch up. With a lack of significant power it will be tough for the Angels (you can’t steal first base!) K-Rod stays in the bullpen and the Angels would look at Beckett twice before Game 4. The only shot I think the Angels have is to have their starting pitching pitch great (and it can happen in the post season) and especially win Game 1. By putting the Red Sox in a hole early in the series it evens up things back in Anahiem where the Angels might have the edge in close games. But they Angels won’t be able to hang in there in a slug fest.
Prediction: Red Sox Sweep!
Colorado Rockies Vs Philadelphia Phillies
Running simulations on video games doesn’t often get us this match up of interesting organizations who took very interesting roots to the Post Season. As late as a week ago this was going to be the San Diego Padres at New York Mets, but thanks to those teams suddenly forgetting how to win it created just a sliver of hope to both the Phillies and Rockies who took advantage, both got to the post season in spectacular ways. The Rockies who are coming off an emotional (and controversial) 13 inning drama filled victory against the Padres in the Wild Card Tie-Breaker Game, certainly have momentum going for them, but the Phillies who went 13-4 down the stretch including winning on the last day of the year to over take the Mets for the NL East Crown and making the post season for the 1st time in 14 years (incidentally the year the Rockies started!). Momentum means nothing.
The Phillies offense with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley can rake. They are an American League style offense which no other NL Post season team can even match against. The Phillies back that offense up with an American League pitching staff, meaning fans sitting in the outfield bleachers should wear hard hats! Down the stretch the Phillies pitching staff got by, it wasn’t great, it wasn’t pretty but it worked. The bullpen has gotten a huge boost from JC Romero whom the Red Sox cast off during the season because he couldn’t throw strikes. Well, now he can and has been very productive. Cole Hammels has been lights out, but questions remain about the rest of the Phillies rotation, it should be interesting when 44 year old Jamie Moyer takes the mound in Game 3.
The Rockies can hit too, Matt Holiday, Todd Helton make a pretty formidable 1-2 punch. The Rockies play good fundamental baseball, the run well, catch the ball and do a lot of the little things right. However they have little starting pitching and even less in the bullpen. They sent 10 pitchers to mound in the extra inning tie breaker game and if the game had continued, god knows what they would have done. Certainly the Padres would have gotten to them even more. Manny Corpas is the closer and will be needed for 4 outs if the Rockies get a lead. Brian Fuentes should introduce himself to Ryan Howard, they will be seeing a lot of each other. The Rockies have been flying by the seams of their pants the last few weeks and they are just hoping to piece it together and hope for the best. However, Philadelphia’s offense (in the thin air in Colorado, look out!) and veteran (not better) bullpen I think give the Phillies the edge.
Prediction: Phillies in 4
Chicago Cubs Vs Arizona Diamondbacks
The Cubs come from the NL Central a division it looked like no team wanted to win, while the Diamondbacks come from the NL West which every team nearly won.
That being said, the Cubs are better than they look and the Diamonbacks are not as good as you might think for the team with the best record in the National League (and the only team in the NL with 90 wins).
The Cubs are going to send two excellent pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly in Games 1 and 2. The Diamondbacks will have Brandon Webb ready for Game 1, but after that a lot of questions. Doug Davis is scheduled for Game 2 and (gulp!) Livan Hernandez in Game 3. The Diamondbacks have little post season experience and few big names on their roster. It will be up to Bob Melvin to keep them focused and ready to play. On the other side, the Cubs have to keep their emotions in check. Zambrano can get flustered easily and if the D-backs can rattle him early he is beatable. Ted Lilly is a solid starting pitcher and Rich Hill the Cubs Game 3 starter is an unknown commodity.
Sweet Lou has to keep himself in check as well. He gets fired up, he gets angry but he knows how to win when given the chance. Managing in the post season is more about making the right pitching change at the right time, calling the right play at the right time than it is about arguing and getting thrown out in a spectacular fashion. Lou also has to show faith in his players, where even if the Cubs fall behind in a game or the series (which may happen facing Brandon Webb) he has to become like a cheerleader and nurse them back into a position to win. If he flips his lid, he may lose his players and then the Cubs are done. But if the Cubs can hit and they certainly have a chance in games 2-4 against a suspect pitching staff they can win. The Diamondbacks have to pitch and get some clutch hitting (doesn’t every team in the post season?) beyond Brandon Webb. It’s also never a good thing for a team if your Game 4 Starting pitcher is also considered one of your offensive threats, I’m talking about Micah Owings.
This series like the Yankees-Indians series could easily go either way (That’s why they make them play the games and not just leave it up to me. If they did, I would go with a Sox-Rox series. It has a nice ring to it) but I’m going to give a slight edge to the Diamondbacks as Brandon Webb pitches two gems in Games 1 and 5 and the D-backs sneak another victory out between his starts.
Prediction: Arizona in 5