NLCS Outlook

Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, it’s a Central Division affair for a spot in the World Series.  I expect great baseball from this series, two teams that know each other very well, and both winning fantastic game five series to punch their ticket forward.  The Cardinals surprised me winning their series against Philadelphia, but the thing that got them through was great pitching and situation hitting.  The Brewers won their series by a little home cooking, cementing their status as the league’s best team at home by winning their three home games to advance against Arizona.  The key for Milwaukee to make their first WS appearance since 1982 is to limit the damage done by Albert Pujols, but to also remember it’s not just about stopping him; batting behind Pujols is Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and David Freese in that order, all of which are dangerous.  For the Cardinals, it’s going to be crucial for them to steal a win in Milwaukee, and pitch smartly around this lineup as each batter knows how to hit in crucial situations.  My pick: Milwaukee wins in 7.

NL Divisional Series Outlook

As you may or may not remember, there are two leagues in the MLB: The American League which has taken the forefront and has garnered most of the media attention over the past few days, and the National League which begins it’s two divisional series this afternoon.  The NL has four hard hitting teams representing them this year, and I’m going to look into the NLDS and pick the two teams I think will advance.

 

-Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68, NL West Champions) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (96-66, NL Central Champions)

It’s hard to believe that it was ten years ago that a team made a World Series appearance within 5 years of being established as an expansion team, and defeated one of the most well established teams in the league.  That fledgling team was the Arizona Diamondbacks who defeated the Yankees in an emotional and thrilling seven game series.  This year, you can bet that the D-Backs are hoping to make their first WS appearance since that year, but to do that they’re going to have to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers at least once at home, a tough task seeing that the Brewers had a league best 57-24 record at home.  Milwaukee is sending Yovani Gallardo this afternoon, and the Diamondbacks will retaliate with Ian Kennedy, two pitchers who expect to be backed up solidly by their lineups.  The key to this series for both teams is to keep the ball in the yard, as both of these lineups hit the ball hard.  The D-Backs hit Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, and Chris Young 3-4-5 who hit 31, 18, and 20 home runs this year respectively.  The Brewers will hit Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks 3-4-5 who hit 33, 38, and 20 home runs this year; and as an added bonus have Corey Hart leading off , who hit 26 homers.

My pick: This series is going to be a score fest, and I’m picking Milwaukee to outslug the D-Backs in 4.  Bonus: both teams have retractable roofs, so no rain delays in this series.

 

-St. Louis Cardinals (90-72, Wild Card) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (102-60, NL East Champions)

The Phillies have a lot of expectations riding on them in this series, as they look to make their fourth consecutive NL Championship Series appearance in their last five playoff trips.  Going into this season, many people saw them as the team to beat with their “R2C2″ pitching rotation (Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels) and that pitching staff certainly did not disappoint.  Philadelphia led the league in pitching with a 3.02 team ERA, and a team 1.17 WHIP.  The Cardinals were a team that struggled to find their stride this season, but picked it up where it counted to make their way into the playoffs on the last day of the season and will hope to carry that momentum with them and make their first NLCS appearance since 2006, the same year they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.  The Cardinals are going to need for their lineup to keep up the pace that landed them with the 6th best team batting average of .264 against Philadelphia’s rotation to win this series.

My pick: This will be an interesting series to watch, and I’m picking Philadelphia to win this series in 4, if not 3.

A Wild Week Ahead

Calamity, thy name is the Wild Card race.  At the beginning of this month, both the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card over the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals respectively.  The Red Sox saw their AL Wild Card dwindle to just a 3.0 game lead in 11 days and it hasn’t been over 4.0 games since then.  The Braves on the other hand saw their lead drop to 4.5 games in the same amount of time and kept their lead above 3.0 games until September 19th when Chipper Jones “lost a ground ball in the lights” that set the Marlins up for a 2-run walk off home run in the 9th.  And now, today with the Red Sox/Yankees game still in the balance the Sox hold a 0.5 game lead over the Rays, and the Braves hold a 1.0 game lead over the Cardinals. Read more of this post

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