This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
In my set of predictions prior to the Division Series, i was correct in 3 of the 4 series. Of course, the only series which I picked incorrectly happened to be the series that featured my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Since they’re no longer a factor in this postseason, I’ve decided to do a new set of predictions with the remaining teams. Truth be told, I don’t expect to have the same success with guessing the winners of the Championship Series. Anyway, here we go!
Between the Philadelphia Phillies and LA Dodgers, I picked the Phillies to win in a 7 game series. These teams are well stocked with pitching, but the Phillies will end up on top in the end. The Dodgers outperformed the Phillies pitching staff during the 2009 season, but the lopsided talent is not as obvious as say, the Yankees over the Twins. Pedro Martinez could play a big role in this NLCS. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are a fantastic 1-2 punch. The Dodgers bullpen has better numbers than the Phillies bullpen, but Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee ranked 2nd in MLB for complete games during the second half, and that may mean their starters are going deeper into games during this series. There hasn’t been any mention of the offense of either team, and that’s because this series will likely come down to pitching.
Between the Yankees and Angels, I picked the Yankees to take the ALCS in 5 games. Whether or not there’s a possible ‘hangover’ effect for the Angels after finally defeating the Red Sox, the Yankees are simply rolling through this postseason. Since August 1st, the Yankees are 41-18, 44-18 if you include the three game sweep of the Twins. The Yankees lost only 22 games in the second half, playing to a .703 winning percentage! One way the Yankees may lose this series is if Mike Scioscia outmanages Joe Girardi in a key moment. Girardi’s managing of the bullpen could be a factor as well, as he’s routinely brought Mariano Rivera into non-save situations and for more than one inning. While Rivera is the best closer in baseball, he has shown this season that when he pitches more than an inning, teams are able to scrap together and get men on base. If there’s one team in the postseason which you do not want to let men on base, it’s the Angels. However, the three man rotation of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte coupled with an offensive lineup that includes 7 starters that had 20 or more home runs during the regular season(5 of whom had 25 or more) is difficult to match up evenly with any team remaining in the postseason.
Regardless of who wins these series, it should be great baseball to watch as the postseason rolls on.