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.