After a pretty unbelievable 6 minutes last night, where the Red Sox snatched defeat from the hands of victory and then the Rays had a walk-off win to an amazing comeback (not to mention the Braves losing a heart-breaker to finish off their own September collapse earlier in the nigth), we have a completely different playoff picture than most people predicted just last week. Lets take a look and put up some predictions.
First off, 3/8ths of these teams were in such scramble mode just to make the playoffs, they havn’t really even declared probable pitchers yet. But i’ll put in some guesses.
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By Series Thoughts:
- Detroit-New York: Detroit took the Season series 4-3 and is on a roll. New York basically has no idea who is going to pitch the 3rd game (Garcia? Colon? Burnett?) or the 5th game, and the 4th game would be Sabathia on 3 days rest. Detroit is essentially a 1 1/2 pitcher rotation right now, with Verlander unbeatable and Fister just as good. Game 3 is the toss-up; which 4+ ERA starter will cave first? Prediction: Detroit in 5. Supplemental prediction: New York over-reacts and gives CJ Wilson $180M in the off season after having zero pitchers left in game 3.
- Tampa Bay-Texas: Texas took the season series 5-4, but Tampa is obviously hot entering the post-season. Tampa’s pitching staff was shredded just to get into the playoffs, leaving them at a disadvantage. They burned their ace Price last night (and he got hammered), meaning they likely can’t use him til game 3. Meanwhile, arguably their 5th best starter (Neimann) looks likely to get two starts because of the scheduling. Unless the team puts uber-prospect Matt Moore on the roster and puts him into the rotation. Despite all that, the Rangers themselves have a conundrum in that the matchups don’t really favor them, at all. I don’t think the Rangers can beat Shields in game2, and may struggle to beat Price with their #5 starter Colby Lewis going in game 3. The pivotal game is game 2: can Texas hold serve at home? Prediction: Tampa in 4.
- Arizona-Milwaukee: Arizona took the season series 4-3. This is a strange series; if Arizona’s pitching is for real, this could be a great series. If not? It could be a quick sweep for Milwaukee. Arizona needs to win both of their Ace Ian Kennedy’s starts to have any shot, but both will be on the road. The pivotal game could be game 4, with the veteran Randy Wolf going against the surprising elder rookie Josh Collmeter. Prediction: Milwaukee in 5.
- St. Louis-Philadelphia: the one team Philly didn’t want to see in the post-season; St. Louis took the season series 6-3. However, Chris Carpenter was burned just to get into the post season, meaning they likely won’t see him until game 4. By which point Philly may very well have swept this series. St. Louis’ pitching isn’t that great this year, with all their starters posting good ERAs but not really dominant lines. Philadelphia really struggled down the stretch; we’ll find out soon enough if its because they were tired or just complacent by having locked up the #1 seed so early. I’m guessing their 4-game winning streak to end the season (including the dagger-like 3-game set in Atlanta to cost them the WC) means they’re geared up. Prediction: Philadelphia in 3
If this plays out, we’re looking at Milwaukee-Philadelphia and Tampa-Detroit for ALCS. Not as compelling as MLB wants, but some good story lines none the less. Could be a Philly-Tampa 2008 rematch world series. We’ll revisit predictions after the divisional rounds are complete.