Division Series Previews
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:
This rematch of last years’ NLCS should be one full of pitching. Pitching is always a big factor this time of year, but this series features some great pitchers. Arguably, two of the top pitchers in baseball are going in game one with Clayton Kershaw for Los Angeles and Adam Wainwright for St. Louis. This series won’t be won with just these two guys though. Pitchers like Hyun-Jin Ryu for the Dodgers and Shelby Miller for the Cardinals are two rotation pitchers that you’ll have to keep an eye out for. The bullpens for both of these teams could be a factor as well because they always have a huge factor late in games, but especially because runs will be at a premium in this series because of the dynamic starting pitching.
On the other hand, two players to keep an eye out for on offense for these clubs are Juan Uribe for the Dodgers and Jhonny Peralta for the Cardinals. These two players aren’t your big power bats, but if they can provide some pop farther down in the order, the whole complexion of the lineup changes. Your Puig’s and Holliday’s of the world will do what they do (or at least they should), but they won’t be able to do it by themselves. Game 1 in this series should be one for the ages as Clayton Kershaw takes the mound against Adam Wainwright.
My prediction: Dodgers in 4
Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants:
After winning the Wild Card game in blowout fashion versus the Pirates on Wednesday night, the Giants come into Washington feeling pretty good. The Nationals should be ready to go because they locked up home field pretty early and have been able to rest their guys. This is going to be a very interesting series with the Giants having a lot of experience in postseason play and the Nationals being relatively young. San Francisco isn’t overwhelmingly better on the mound or at the plate, which could pose a problem if they get good pitching, and no hitting or vice versa on one night.
The Nationals pitching staff has three great arms in Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Fister. Along with an above average offense, the Nationals can really do it all. The acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera solidified the infield and they seem like they are ready to go. The Giants’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval always comes to play in the Postseason. Going into the series, he holds a 12 game postseason hit streak, the longest in club history. A player on the Giants that can play a major factor in the series is rookie second baseman Joe Panik. He has been the young spark this team has needed and he will need to continue that for San Francisco. On the Nationals side, starting pitching will be huge. The hitters for the Giants are very experienced in the postseason and to give their team a shot they will need to turn in quality starts.
My prediction: Nationals in 4
Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles:
This series pits two of the best offensive teams up against each other. The Tigers though may have the upper hand because of their starting rotation. Even though Verlander hasn’t been himself all season, the top three of Scherzer, Price, and Verlander will undoubtedly cause problems for the Orioles. Not having Machado, Wieters or Davis will hurt this offense big time. The pitching for the Orioles doesn’t have the big names, but Chris Tillman and Wei Yin Chen should be a formidable 1-2 punch in this rotation. An x-factor for the Orioles will be Kevin Gausman. If they can win the game that he starts, they should be in good shape to win the series.
The Tigers offense is obviously one of the best in baseball with Cabrera and V-Mart. The question is, who else is going to step up for them in this series. Lucky for them, the Orioles starters aren’t named Hernandez or Kershaw. Someone like Alex Avila or Nick Castellanos will have to come up big for the Tigers in this series. On the Orioles side, Steve Pearce is a name to look out for. Pearce is in for suspended first baseman Chris Davis and he has filled in that spot in a huge way thus far. For Baltimore to win this series, they will need big contributions from their main weapons on offense – Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and JJ Hardy.
My prediction: Orioles in 5
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Kansas City Royals:
After a hard fought 13-inning fiasco Tuesday night in Kansas City, the Royals travel to Anaheim to face the hot hitting Angels. Anaheim has hit the crap out of the ball this year and that is why they find themselves with the best record in baseball. The biggest question about the Angels is their pitching. Losing Garrett Richards really hurt this ballclub because he was their dominating ace. Now, the Angels will send Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson to the hill in games 1 and 2 looking for good outings from them both. Experts have been saying that the good offense can out weigh the defense, but at this time of year pitching always seems to win out. If the series is anything like the Wild Card game (high scoring), this series will be in the favor of the Anaheim. The Angels will also not face James Shields until potentially game 3, which would be huge especially if they can win games 1 and 2.
The Royals on the other hand have been hot of late and find themselves winning their first playoff game in almost 3 decades. It seems as though the pitching is there for the Royals. Their bullpen late in games is the best baseball and if the Angels find themselves down late in the game, the Royals will be in good shape. Their bats also seem to be coming around after putting up 9 against the A’s. Two key players in this series are David Freese of the Angels and Lorenzo Cain of the Royals. If Cain can cause some havoc on the base paths, the Angels might find themselves in a bit of trouble. Freese on the other hand provides some of the best experience an active player has. If he can come up clutch again in September, the Angels will be in a good spot. This should really be a good series.
My prediction: Angels in 4