July 13, 2020

Clearing The Bases

September 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Wow, what a last couple of days in the baseball season.   Hard to believe that both the Braves and Red Sox choked up huge leads in the month of September, but as everyone likes to say, “that is why they play the games”.  The playoff matchups in the Wildcard round offer up some intriguing possibilities.  Let’s take a look and even make some predictions.

Tampa Bay versus Texas

The Rays did all they could do to get into the playoffs by sweeping the Yankees.  One might say they have all the momentum in this series, but don’t forget that Texas won their last six games, this gave them home-field advantage in the first round and also allowed them to wait a round until they have to worry about the Yankees.  The two teams couldn’t be more opposite.  The Rays have a strong starting staff.  James Shields has been fantastic this season and David Price is no fun to face either.  Now Price had a shaky September so he will be looking to redeem himself in the playoffs.  The Rays are gambling in Game 1 by starting rookie Matt Moore, he who has only thrown about 10 innings in the major leagues, but he may be the number one prospect in the majors and if his nerves don’t get the best of him, could be close to unhittable.  If Mike Napoli is behind the plate, look for the Rays to run whenever they get the chance, they don’t have the offense that the Rangers possess, so they will have to create it.  The Rangers can put a game away early if they can put some crooked numbers on the board early.  They have a solid starting staff, but not as formidable as the Rays.  Their bullpen however can be lights out, a close game late would seem to be in the Rangers favor.

Tampa in 5

Detroit versus Yankees

Detroit may have been the hottest team over the past two months and they have quickly become a team that no one wants to face.  Justin Verlander will pitch twice in a five game series and could very quickly put the Yankees behind the 8-ball.  Verlander is a shoe-in for CY Young and could very well be the MVP, but he has help.  Doug Fister has been fantastic since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners, but keep one thing in mind, he has faced a soft slate of opponents, the Yankees are not that.  Max Scherzer could be lights out, or could get lit up, you never really know with him.  Although the bullpen is not as deep or as good as the Yanks, it does boast Jose Valverde who went 49-49 in save opportunities.  The offense boasts another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez is no slouch either, but is nowhere near as explosive as the Yankees, neither team is very good defensively.  The Yankees biggest question is in their starting rotation.  CC Sabathia has been shaky in September.  Ivan Nova is still a rookie, and Freddy Garcia needs to be perfect with his location or else he and the Yankees are in big trouble.  The Yankees are deadly in close games that reach the 7th inning, as Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera can turn a nine-inning game into six innings real quick.  Might give the edge managerial wise to Detroit as well.  There is nothing Jim Leyland hasn’t seen whereas Joe Girardi has a tendency to make some questionable decisions, starting Jorge Posada at DH over Jesus Montero would be such a decision.  Montero was one of the Yankees hottest hitters in September, while Posada has been benched more often than not in the second half.  Have no problem with Posada being on the roster, but Montero or Eric Chavez should be the starter.

Yankees in 5

St. Louis versus Philadelphia

The Cardinals may have used up all of their luck just to get into the post-season.  Congratulations, now go and try to beat Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.  To make matters even worse, the Cards don’t have their best pitchers lined up the way they would want it.  Chris Carpenter is going to go on three days rest in Game 2, Jamie Garcia won’t pitch until Game 4.  Not the way you want to go into a series versus the best team in baseball.  All that being said, a huge series from Albert Pujols could go a long way.  We already mentioned the Phillies starting staff and we didn’t even talk about Vance Worley who will pitch out of the bullpen, just a crazy amount of depth.  The only thing I can find that could slow down the Phils in this one, injuries, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Placido Polanco are all dealing with one nagging nuisance or another, but it won’t be enough to keep them from the NLCS.

Philadelphia in 3

Arizona versus Milwaukee

Prince Fielder’s swan song extends into the playoffs, and a big playoffs could only put more 0s on the big contract he will be looking for in the off-season.  Speaking of off-seasons, all of the moves the Brewers made before the season started, trading for Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum, have paid off handsomely.  The Brewers have a formidable starting three with those two and Yovanni Gallardo, they may not have the sex appeal of the Phils trio, but not bad either.  Ryan Braun will either be the MVP or the runner-up depending upon the voters definition of valuable, he and Prince can make a pitcher wish he chose a different profession.  This isn’t to say the Diamondbacks don’t have a chance in this series.  Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have proved to be top starters in their own right.  You can’t assume they will have trouble pitching in Milwaukee because of the dimensions, the ball flies out of Arizona just as well if not better.  Still, one has a feeling that the DBacks will need to score some runs, and how their hitters react to the post-season will go a long way to seeing how far they will go in the playoffs.  Justin Upton is an MVP waiting to happen but this will be his and just about everyone else’s first playoff appearance.  Chris Young pretty much disappeared in the second half.  Aaron Hill was fantastic since the trade out of Canada, Paul Goldschmidt gives them power but is still just a rookie, and Miguel Montero is one of the best hitting catchers in the majors, in the end though, there will be quite a bit of pressure on the offense to keep up with the Brewers.

Milwaukee in 4

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