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Category Archives: MLB Playoffs 2010

As the American League Divisional Playoffs get underway on Wednesday, let’s take a look at the match-ups:

New York vs. Minnesota

It seems that this is deja-vu all over again. Haven’t we seen this movie before? As a matter of fact, yes we have. The Minnesota Twins have lost in the first round of their last four playoff appearances, three of which they lost to the Yankees. As good as the Twins were during the regular season, they finished the season 2-8, including getting swept by Detroit and losing 2 of 3 to Kansas City.

Moving into the playoffs, it’s all about who has the momentum, and the Yankees have it. Though they ended the season 3-7, they did it against much tougher opposition in Boston and Tampa Bay. I believe a better match-up to see would have been New York and Texas, because that would force both struggling teams to take on teams on the upswing.

It was reported that AJ Burnett would not be in the three-man rotation which seems to be an addition by subtraction. With the performance that he’s had this season, there is little confidence instilled in him that he could win a baseball game for them in the postseason. For that reason, he will work out of the bullpen.

Obviously the Yankees have a very strong lineup, especially moving into October, with Rodriguez, Cano, Texiera, and, in his last chance to show that he is worth a $20 million per year extension, Derek Jeter.

Minnesota, on the other hand, is more of a small ball team. Joe Mauer is obviously their big bat with Justin Morneau out, to go along with the breakout year of Delmon Young. In the pitching rotation, Francisco Liriano is the only guy in that three that could be put in and win a game for you single-handedly.

In the end, it will be big bats against small ball, and I expect the powerful Yankees to win the series 3-2.

Tampa Bay vs. Texas

The Tampa Bay Rays, holding off the Yankees to win the AL East, actually got the shorter end of the stick going into Round 1 of the playoffs. It seems that the AL West champion Rangers pose a bigger threat to them than the AL Central champion Twins do.

With such big bats as Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers are poised to run up the scoreboard if the Rays pitching, led by Cy Young candidate David Price, cannot keep them in check.

The biggest key for the Rangers this season was picking up ace Cliff Lee. Not only is Lee a great pitcher in his own right, but he also brings a great deal of stability to a rotation that is very young. Moving into the postseason, it is tough to say with confidence that the Rangers would be in a position to win if it were not for Lee. He brings the winning attitude and postseason experience that was lacking before his arrival.

On the Rays side, they do not have the overpowering lineup that the Yankees or Rangers have. They are similar in style to the Twins offensively in that they will get guys like Carl Crawford on base and use their big bats to drive runs in. The biggest concern seems to be the rotation where, outside of David Price, there have been inconsistencies. Matt Garza has been up and down this season, a different pitcher from the one we saw in the 2008 run to the World Series. Going up against such a potent lineup, the pitching will need to be on top of its game.

Ultimately, I think the Rangers lineup is too powerful for the Rays to handle. Because Texas has solidified their rotation with Lee, they look to be the better team in this series. I see them winning it 3-2.

With the post season upon us it’s time to pick and choose who will come out of the N.L. Division to face the A.L. winner for a chance at the World Series Title.

Phillies verses Reds:

The Reds are here for the first time in quite sometime, the Phillies on the other hand are just back to where they always seem to be.

With a rotation that consists of Roy Halladay (21 wins) Roy Oswalt (13 wins) and Cole Hamels (12 wins) the Phillies have the right formula of H2O to make another trip to the World Series. Not only do they have their top three starters with lower the a three era they have a line up that consists of Ryan Howard, a finally healthy Chase Utley and Jason Werth who has been their catalyst for the most part this season. Werth and Howard have combined for 58 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Not bad for you number four and five hitter but I believe that the play of Chase Utley at the Phillies number three spot will be a big key in this offense getting going early.

For the Reds they have a very young and or inexperienced pitching rotation. Besides Benson Arroyo, who has been their ace with 17 wins this season, no pitcher has playoff experience. Arroyo had his time with the Boston Red Soxs so he knows what to expect. Johnny Cueto is seconded in wins this season with 12 but everyone else is below ten and whats surprising even more is that it’s not either of those pitchers will take the mound game one. Edinson Volquez will take the mound for game 1. Dusty Baker saying he wanted to go with his most rested pitcher in game one. The Reds will have to look for their bats to come up big. Joey Votto, arguably the MVP of the N.L. can’t do it alone. Brandon Phillips, Jonny Gomes and Jay Bruce have to get it going as well. All three players have big bat potential and will need to help Votto in putting this offense together.

Who Wins?: Ultimately I think the Phillies will win this in 4 games. I think the Reds will be able to eek one out at home but having to face Halladay twice is no easy task. Phillies in four.

Braves vs. Giants

Will the retiring of manager Bobby Cox be the fuel to a Braves World Series run or will the Giants play spoiler and advance themselves?

For the Braves starting pitching will be their main key in winning this series. With Derek Lowe posting a 4.00 era it does not say good for the first game against a hot Giants offensive team. Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson have had the best season of all starting pitchers and both will have to be on their game come their starts. Hudson has been great all season long posting a 2.83 era and earning 17 victories. Tommy Hanson had a great start to the season but fell off a bit towards the end. The Braves line up has some high averaged hitters at the 1-2 with Omar Infante and Martin Prado at the top. A rookie slugger in Jason Heyward and a veteran Derek Lee.  Lee is the main guy in this rotation. Playing clean up, Lee needs to find his former self. Hitting for power and average and keeping the offense always ahead of the team it’s facing.

For the Giants the number one factor is the offense. This offense isn’t a very solid one that you can compare to other teams in the playoffs. No real big bat in the line up but a lot of average bats that if they heat up can score some runs playing small ball. Buster Posey, the rookie catcher, had a great season when he was called up. Batted over .300 and hit 18 home runs. Aubrey Huff was their only player to get over 20 home runs with 26. Huff will need to be consistent with the long ball to help drive in timely runs when needed. Pablo Sandoval and the rest of the Giants offense needs to produce for this pitching staff that has pretty much carried them all season. Tim Lincecum, though having a down year, is still your number one ace. Can strikeout a whole line up with no problem but consistency has been an issue. Matt Cain has been another stellar pitcher for this team with 13 wins and a 3.14 era. Johnathan Sanchez, though erratic at times, is a very tough pitcher to face. If he’s on, beating him will be a very difficult task. And Barry Zito, probably having the most experience out of all the starting pitchers, had found his old self for the most part of the season. Curve ball looks to be up to par and ready for playoff action.

Who Wins?: I’m taking the San Francisco Giants over the Atlanta Braves in 5 games. I think their pitching will be to tough for the Braves batters and their offense has been hot of late and they say, “The hottest team is the dangerous team.”

Giants vs Phillies

This will be a great pitching match up every night for both teams. Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels vs Sanchez, Cain and Lincecum will be even match ups. Though the pitching might be even the offense is not. Here is where the Giants offense will hurt this team and their chances. The Phillies hitters are consistent and will cause problems on the base paths. The Giants will truly miss a big bat in their line up.

Who Wins?: The Phillies will win this in 5 games. Pitching will be good for the Giants but the Phillies hitters will be better. Phillies return to the World Series for the third time in three years and look to be winners twice out of the three times.

– Tim Dimas ( @TimmyD_WSJU )

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