Wednesday, October 3, 2007

MLB Playoff Previews

American League Divisional Playoff Series Previews New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians - The indians have the pitching edge with their two starters, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, plus, middle relievers Rafael Betancourt and Aaron Fultz are two of the best at holding leads in late innings. The Yankees are devoid of quality starters after Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang, but boast the best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera.
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Offensively, the Yankees have a huge edge, especially if Alex Rodriguez produces. With Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter batting in front of him and Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada behind, the middle of New York's lineup is deadly. Though the Yankees won the regular season series, 6-0, the Indians may be able to get by with quality pitching and timely hitting. A split in Cleveland virtually assures the Indians will advance because their 3rd and 4th starters, Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd, are arguably better (healthier) right now than Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina. Cleveland wins this in 4. Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels - The Red Sox have been the best team in baseball for most of the regular season, but the Angels weren't far behind. Both are loaded with solid bats, especially Boston, with a healthy Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz in the middle of their potent lineup. For the Angels, Chone Figgins has had an exceptional season, and if he can reach base from his leadoff spot, the Angels will be tough to beat. Vladimir Guerrero and Garrett Anderson can provide plenty of punch, while Casey Kotchman and Gary Matthews Jr. have contributed all season with timely hitting. The pitching, beginning with Josh Beckett, leans toward Boston, though Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey have had solid seasons. Boston's had trouble closing game, but that isn't a problem for Francisco Rodriguez, who save 40 games for the Angels in 2007. It's a toss-up, but the Angels have managerial experience in Scioscia and will win in 5 games. National League Divisional Playoff Series Previews Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Too bad these two teams have to play each other in the first round, because either of them is capable of going all the way.
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The Rockies have awesome power and clutch hitting from the likes of Matt Holliday, Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe in the middle of their lineup, but the Phillies may have the best 1-6 hitters in the league. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell form a modern day Murderer's Row. The pitching also favors the Phillies, with overpowering Cole Hamels and the experience of Jamie Moyer. Both teams overcame the odds to get to this point, and it will be a shame to see one of them have to go. In a series that will produce at least 3 double digit scoring games, the Phillies should emerge victorious in 5 games. Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs - In a series featuring a lot of no-name players, three that stick out for the Cubs are Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee, the heart and power of the Chicago lineup. Arizona boasts Brandon Webb on the mound, the best pitcher of the remaining teams in the NL. The best the Cubs can come up with are Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly, both of whom have been inconsistent. In the bullpen, closers Ryan Dempster or Bob Howry cannot match up with Jose Valverde, who led the world with 47 saves. Arizona will get the job done with pitching and defense and win this in 3 or 4 games. Later Today: MVP and Cy Young Picks

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