There are only four teams left in the MLB postseason. Let’s rank them and break them down:
1. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phils are primed for the kill with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels to carry them through all the way to the World Series. The Giants are a notoriously pitching-focused team, but I think the Phillies can match (and probably surpass) them in that department. And the Philadelphia offense blows the Giants’ out of the water. In case you missed my “ill” post, they have 8 position players that are all legitimate All-Star candidates. They probably won’t even need their offense at full power to beat the relatively low-scoring Giants, but they have it – just in case. As a Phillies fan, I’m excited for what should be a short, sweet series.
2. New York Yankees: The Yankees are still playing in mid-October. Who is surprised? (Cricket). This year’s team may just be the best team to ever win the Wild Card spot. The 4-man rotation of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and AJ Burnett is solid – and it will allow them to stay rested. The core of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada has so much experience that you know nerves aren’t going to be a factor – as opposed to the Rangers, who just won their first playoff series ever. The only downside of that much experience is the aging that comes with it; not aging to the point where this is a ‘last hurrah’ for the Big Three, but aging to the point where they are all most definitely on the decline. Imagine, in a few years the Yankees will have a shortstop not named Derek, a closer not named Mo, and a catcher not named Jorge.
3. Texas Rangers: The first thing that most people bring up when talking about the Rangers is their ace, Cliff Lee. He is the best playoff pitcher in the game. But Lee is only going to pitch one game (or two if they manage to make it to Game 7). CJ Wilson is an excellent young pitcher, but I really don’t see him matching Sabathia – the ALCS MVP last year - in the playoffs, especially not in Yankee Stadium. Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter (I know… who?) will match up with Burnett and Hughes. I really am disappointed that the rotation couldn’t have worked out to Lee throwing games 1,4, and 7 like he did last year – because then the Rangers would have a legitimate shot. I hate to admit it, but they don’t really have a shot with Cliff only going once, because let’s be honest, Texas can’t make it to Game 7 with Josh Hamilton hitting .111. (Side note: I love the Texas Rangers for the respect they showed to Hamilton’s former drug and alcohol addiction. If you didn’t hear, when they won last night against the Rays they doused Hamilton in ginger ale and allowed him to leave the locker room and walk around the field and talk to reporters. You could see in Hamilton’s face that he was ecstatic that he got to celebrate Texas’ first playoff series win in franchise history. I will be rooting for the Rangers. Heavily.)
4. San Francisco Giants: Since Barry Bonds (he doesn't deserve bold text) left in 2007, the Giants have had to win with talented pitching. This year, their pitching staff is stacked. Led by Tim Lincecum (and his beautiful flow), San Fran won the NL West and advanced to the NLCS without a whole bunch of offense. Timmy, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner have carried the Giants this far, but they will meet a Phillies staff who is just as talented. And the kicker in the series is the superstar Philly offense.
I’m picking the Phillies 100% in the NLCS. Call me biased, I really don’t care; the Philadelphia Phillies will be in the World Series.
The ALCS is a lot trickier. I know that the Yankees will probably win because of their depth on the mound and their experience. I guess I think they’ll win in 6 games because they know that if it goes to Game 7 (and Cliff Lee) that they are done.
(Another quick side note/prediction: Cliff Lee will win his start against Andy Pettitte. Andy is a great postseason pitcher, the winningest of all time, but Cliff is inhuman in the playoffs and the Yankees denied him a ring last season. This series, expect him to be out for blood.)