October is just around the corner, one of my favorite months of the year. In addition to an important birthday, Halloween and the changing of the leaves, it marks the start of the MLB Postseason. And judging by Wednesday night’s epic conclusion to the regular season, the playoffs could just as well be a doozy.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to baseball, fear not. Sports Climax is here to provide you with a guide on what to look out for, as well as some predictions. As always, these are for entertainment purposes only, and don’t bet the (sub-prime) mortgage on any of these.
Here are five things to watch out for. OK, you can call them predictions:
- The Brewers-Diamondbacks series may be the most overlooked of all the Division Series, but it could be an interesting one. “The Bristol Improv” won’t tell you this, but Milwaukee won 96 games and boasts a powerful 1-2 punch at the plate with MVP candidate Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and solid pitching from Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke. The D-Backs are a great turn-around story, winning the NL West after finishing last in 2010. A big part of the reason was manager Kirk Gibson, who’s become as good a leader in the dugout as he was on the field. Ace Ian Kennedy had the best season you never heard about (21-4, 2.88 ERA), and Justin Upton is a rising star. My guess is that this series goes all five games.
- After the much anticipated Game 1 pitchers’ duel between Detroit’s Justin Verlander and New York’s CC Sabathia, expect the offense to pick up. While the Yankees Game 2 start Ivan Nova has yet to face the Tigers, Game 3 starter Freddy Garcia was hit hard in his one start against the Tigers this year, and the Yankees fared well against Doug Fister and Max Scherzer (the Tigers’ Game 2 and 3 starters) in the regular season.
- The Rays will be out for revenge this year against the Rangers. Texas upset Tampa Bay in last year’s ALDS, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead before hanging on to win it in 5 games. Don’t expect the Rays to be caught flat-footed again, especially in light of their remarkable run to capture the AL Wild Card, thanks to strong starting pitching and slugging 3B Evan Longoria, who has a whopping 1.043 OPS in the month of September.
- Don’t expect the Phillies to win it all. True, they have a “Dream Team” starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, but the lineup is getting older and anything can happen in the playoffs (just ask the 2010 Giants). Oh, and I also predicted in April that neither the Phillies nor Red Sox would win it all this year, so I’m sticking to it.
- With Ernie Johnson not doing play-by-play for TBS/TNT this year, look for his replacement, Brewers announcer Brian Anderson, to use this as his big break and emerge as one of the voices of the future. In addition, I also like Ron Darling as an analyst (true, he was very nice to me at one of my Little League banquets and even took a picture with me, but that’s beside the point). Then again, anything is an improvement over Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Despite my better judgment, here are my series predictions:
ALDS: Yankees over Tigers in 4
ALDS: Rays over Rangers in 5
NLDS: Phillies over Cardinals in 4
NLDS: Brewers over Diamondbacks in 5
ALCS: Rays over Yankees in 7 (thanks to karmic payback from Wednesday night)
NLCS: Phillies over Brewers in 6
World Series: Rays over Phillies in 6 (thanks to karmic payback from 2008)
And here’s hoping that a Rays title would inspire a sequel to “Moneyball.”
Used with permission of the author.
Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris also covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.
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