Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

MLB Divisional Series Predictions


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.

GM# Home-Visitor Visiting Starter Home Starter Advantage
1 Det-NYY Verlander Sabathia Det
2 Det-NYY Fister Nova NYY?
3 NYY-Det Garcia Scherzer Det?
4 *NYY-Det Sabathia Porcello NYY
5 *Det-NYY Verlander ? Det
1 TBR-Tex Neimann Wilson Tex
2 TBR-Tex Shields Holland TB?
3 Tex-TBR Lewis? Price? TB
4 *Tex-TBR Harrison Hellickson? TB?
5 *TBR-Tex Neimann? Wilson Tex
1 Ari-Mil Kennedy Gallardo Ari?
2 Ari-Mil Hudson Marcum Mil
3 Mil-Ari Greinke Saunders Mil
4 *Mil-Ari Wolf Collmeter Ari?
5 *Ari-Mil Kennedy Gallardo Mil?
1 Stl-Phi Lohse Halladay Phi
2 Stl-Phi Garcia Lee Phi
3 Phi-Stl Hamels Jackson? Phi
4 *Phi-Stl Oswalt Carpenter Stl
5 *Stl-Phi Lohse Halladay Phi

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.

5 Responses to 'MLB Divisional Series Predictions'

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  1. I mostly agree, but think Texas might get by TB. TB can’t be that lucky every game. Philly will lose at least 1, maybe 2 games to StL–no sweep here. Looks to me like Philly’s main starters are a little fatigued.


    29 Sep 11 at 8:04 pm

  2. The Texas-TB series will be interesting for sure. Neimman-Wilson game 1 clearly favors Texas. However, Tampa throws Shields in game two against Holland. Holland is good but can bet hit, while Shields has been fantastic all season. Could have a split in Texas. Then you come back to Tampa for game 3 with Price throwing against (probably) Colby Lewis; you’d normally say that’s a lock for Tampa but Price looked horrible two nights ago in a must-win situation. Another toss up.

    So after three games you could have Tampa up 2-1 or have Texas up 2-1. Game four probably features Harrison vs Hellickson, two guys who both have pretty good numbers this year. I said advantage Tampa here. If its split 2-2 … who knows what Tampa throws out there. Do you start Matt Moore (he of all of 15 innings mlb experience) with Niemann waiting in the wings on normal rest? Do you start Moore and have a better arm in Shields ready to go on short rest? I dunno.

    Philly-Stl; I would have thought the Philly guys were tired until I saw what they did in Atlanta. I think that team coasted for 2 weeks after clinching, losing 10 straight or so, before the coach said, “ok time to gear up for the playoffs” and suddenly they rip off 4 straight to end the season. Meanwhile StL burned their ace just to get here so Carpenter only goes once. You look at the matchups (Lohse-Halladay, Garcia-Lee and Hamels-Jackson) and each of them is clearly advantage Philly. I think Philly either sweeps or it goes a nailbiting 5 games; Carpenter almost certainly beats Oswalt in game 4. I’m not really considering the offenses of either team here (and StL’s 3-4-5 is a monster), so that could factor in as well. One interesting note: StL owned Philly regular season.

    Todd Boss

    30 Sep 11 at 9:39 am

  3. Christ, Tampa just announced Matt Moore is making the first start. That’s amazing. It also means they’ll either be skipping or limiting Neimman’s playoff innings altogether. I wonder how that sits with the veterans on that team, the ones who “got them there” in the first place.

    Todd Boss

    30 Sep 11 at 1:18 pm

  4. […] an attempt to try to guess which team has the upper hand of starting pitching.  As we saw in the divisional series, where I got two series perfectly correct (Det in 5, Mil in 5) but got two very much wrong (Tampa […]

  5. […] far, I’m basically 50/50 on predictions, having gone 2-for-4 in the DS and 1-for-2 in the LCS.  So i’m no better than a coin flip.  It has been really […]

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