American League Division Series
New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles-The Orioles lost the division crown by just one game to the Yankees and had a .500 record against them during the regular season. The Orioles won’t have their number one starter Joe Saunders until Game 4, if necessary, because he pitched a gem in the wild card game against the disappointing Texas Rangers last Friday night.
The Yankees are coming in with their whole lineup finally intact. Robinson Cano comes into the series hot. The always reliable postseason starter CC Sabathia has a fresh arm after missing time due to a groin injury. The combination of playoff experience shared between Andy Pettite and CC Sabathia gives the Yankees the edge in this series. The Baltimore Orioles are too inexperienced to win a series against the mentally tough New York Yankees who are hungry for the illustrious franchise’s 27th World Series ring. I like the Yankees to win the series in four.
Detroit Tigers vs Oakland Athletics- The A’s won the AL West after a dramatic win over the Texas Rangers in Game 162 for the division title. Nobody picked the Oakland A’s to win the divison, few even picked them to be above .500 in a division with the Los Angeles Angels signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.
The Detroit Tigers have been disappointing with the load of talent they have. Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, the best hitter and pitcher in the bigs, led the team to the playoffs over the Chicago White Sox by three games. Many expected the Tigers to blow away the competition in the feeble AL Central but they made unexpectedly made it close.
Here’s how I see this series going, the Tigers will overpower the A’s in every facet of the game. Justin Verlander will dominate on a big stage, Miguel Cabrera will show the national media why he should win the MVP over Angles prodigy Mike Trout, and the Tigers lineup will feast off the nervous rookie Oakland A’s pitchers. Tigers win the series in four games as long as they have no more than one error per game.
National League Division Series
Cincinnati Reds vs San Francisco Giants- The Cincinnati Reds are one of the best teams in baseball. Their lineup still raked even when former NL MVP Joey Votto was out from injury. Jonny Cueto is an NL Cy Young finalist, Mat Latos is scared of nobody, Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter two weeks ago, and Bronson Arroyo has been there and done that. Aroldis Chapman, Jonathon Broxton, Nick Masset, and JJ Hoover give the Reds a lights out bullpen that can close games when given leads.
The Giants will rely on their pitching heavily. Their offense is headlined by trade deadline acquisition NL MVP candidate Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and All-Star Pablo Sandoval. Other than those two, Giants fans will have to hope and pray that Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, or Ryan Vogelsong can hold the Reds to two or less runs in each game while the offense struggles against the formidable starters of the Reds.
There’s no doubt that this series favorites the Reds. The Reds are a better team in every way as long as Tim Lincecum doesn’t have his freaky nature (Lincecum posted a 5.18 earned run average and isn’t in the postseason rotation for the Giants). The Reds should easily win the series in a sweep.
Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals- The Washington Nationals have the best record in baseball and possibly the best left handed pitcher this year, Gio Gonzalez. The one pitcher they don’t have though is Stephen Strasburg, which you can read more about here http://phsview.com/2012/09/strasburg-spectacting-now/ . The Nationals pitching staff has given up the third lowest amount of runs in the majors. Combine that with an upper tear offense, 10th most runs scored in the league, and you have a recipe for success. If Jordan Zimmerman can effectively replace Strasburg in the rotation, a tall task, then everyone will see just how strong their Natitude is in the playoffs.
The Cardinals get into the playoffs after sending home the Atlanta Braves in a one game playoff. The Cards were once again a team that got hot late in the second half and come into the playoffs ready. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Pujols has already begun his quest for Lakers tickets in sunny Los Angeles instead of being a staple in their lineup like he did in their two World Series titles. Plus, Lance Berkman is injured and is done for the year. He’ll still be in a leadership role in the clubhouse but won’t be able to play. With those factors out of the equation they still have stud players to carry the offense like Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Matt Holliday.
This is by far the best Division Series to watch. It has the defending champions against what seems to be a possible new powerhouse in the league. The Nationals lack experience, but I don’t think it will impact them greatly. The pitching matchup could favor either team due to Edwin Jackson’s notorious inconsistency. But, due to Jason Motte being spectacular closing games I give the edge to the Cardinals in the pitching aspect. I think the Cardinals pitching and consistent offense will win in a nail-biting five game series.