Thursday, October 3, 2013

2013 MLB Playoff Predictions: Division Series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

Dodgers: Anchored by one of the best rotations in baseball the Dodgers look to be a formidable threat come playoff time. Ace Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the entire MLB, can shut down any lineup in the game and Hyun Jin Ryu has looked fantastic in his first full season in the majors with 14 wins and a sub 3 ERA. Zack Greinke has also been dominant with one of the best ERA's in the game to accompany his 15 wins. The Dodgers rotation is rounded out by Ricky Nolasco and Edison Volquez, both of whom are certainly capable of thriving in the post-season. While some may be concerned about the loss of Matt Kemp for the entire post-season, the Dodgers lacked Kemp for much of  the regular season and their outfield is very solid even without him. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig looks to be the NL Rookie of the Year and Carl Crawford has found success following his departure from the AL East last year. The Dodgers lineup is also anchored by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, short stop Hanley Ramirez and the seemingly-ageless Juan Uribe who has been "murdering" the ball lately with 5 hrs in the past month. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball and come playoff time, momentum can be the deciding factor between a deep playoff run and a first round departure.

Braves: The self proclaimed "under dogs" have already begun to gripe about how much attention the Dodgers are getting in this series. After an off-season filled with blockbuster transactions such as the Upton brothers the Braves came into the season as one of the favorites to win the NL East and a playoff run seemed likely. An incredibly disappointing season by BJ Upton certainly hindered the offense but the Braves finished the regular season with an impressive 96 wins. Julio Teheran has proven to be one of the most promising young pitchers in the game and Kris Medlen has been lights-out over the past month. The return of Jason Heyward should provide a spark in the offense that has struggled at times. Dan Uggla is in the midst of a 6/52 slump and starting pitcher Mike Minor has been inconsistent as of late with a 4+ ERA over the past month. First baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Chris Johnson have been solid throughout the season and outfielder Justin Upton, one of the streakiest players in the MLB, could catch fire at any moment. If the Braves get hot at the right time they could be a real threat in the playoffs.

Bottom Line: The Braves are simply over-powered by the top of the Dodgers rotation.
Dodgers in 3

Oakland Athletics vs. Detriot Tigers

Tigers: The Tigers enter the playoffs as one of the most feared teams in the MLB due to their balance on offense and on the mound. AL Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer has finally harnessed the skills that scouts knew he always possessed and Anibal Sanchez has put together the strongest year of his career. Justin Verlander has started to look more like himself as of late, striking out 22 batters in his past 12 innings, after a series of rough patches during the season. If this series goes 4 games, Doug Fister will get the start for the Tigers at home. The Tigers offense, led by MVP Miguel Cabrera, is one of the most high-powered in the league and has scored the 2nd most runs so far this season. Hampered by injuries as of late, Cabrera has seen a sap in power recently and Tigers fans should start to worry about Cabrera's health during the playoffs. Jose Iglesias, one of the best defensive SS's in the league, slugger Prince Fielder and utility-man Omar Infante round out the infield for the Tigers. 38 year old Torii Hunter has put together a strong offensive year for the Tigers in right field batting 304 with 17 homers. Hunter and Austin Jackson have anchored the outfield with the 3rd spot still uncertain as the playoffs approach. The Tigers bullpen has been shaky as of late with closer Joaquin Benoit blowing 2 saves in under a week.

A's: Billy Beane's A's always seem to be in contention come September and October. Without any true stars the A's are just an all-around solid ball club. After being tossed around between 4 teams in a span of 4 years forty year old Bartolo Colon has been an ace for the A's with an outstanding 2.65 ERA to accompany his 18 wins. Youngsters Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray and AJ Griffin have been very consistent throughout the year and helped anchor one of the best starting rotations in the league with an AL leading 3.44 ERA. The Athletics offense has also been one of the leagues best, scoring 767 runs. Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss have provided much of the power for the squad while Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie have also contributed quite a bit at the plate. If the A's can minimize their K's against the Tigers starters and drive up the pitch count, a victory seems like a good possibility.

Bottom Line: One of the most evenly-matched series in the playoffs goes 5.
Oakland, led by 2 brilliant starts from Bartolo Colon, prevails.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates: The cinderella story of the playoffs this year, this is the first time the Pirates will be playing in October in over 20 years. This is due largely in part to their impressive pitching staff, led by starters Fransisco Liriano, AJ Burnett, Charlie Morton and rookie Gerrit Cole. Liriano has found success in his first year at PNC Park after signing with the Pirates with the offseason, while 36 year old AJ Burnett has put up stats similar to last year's with the Pirates. Charlie Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the league after the all-star break and Gerrit Cole has been brilliant in his rookie season, putting up a 3.22 ERA over 130 innings. Led by MVP-candidate Andrew McCutchen the Bucs offense also looks to be a threat come October. After battles with concussions Justin Morneau has provided a boost to the Pirates lineup as well and he is joined by Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes in the infield. Starling Marte, Marlon Byrd and Russell Martin round out the lineup for the Bucs. If the Pirates' rotation continues it's success and the lineup continues to produce at the rate it has been, the Bucs cinderalla story may have a happy ending after all.

Cardinals: Arguably the most experienced team in the playoffs, the Cards know how to handle the pressure that comes with October baseball. The Cardinals finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the league and look to maintain that momentum in the NLDS. Ace Adam Wainwright leads the rotation with Lance Lynn filling the #2 slot. Wainwright has 19 wins to go along with a 2.94 ERA and Lynn has also pitched quite well for the Cards, winning 15 games this season. Rookie Shelby Miller has thrust his name into the NL Rookie of the Year debate after winning 15 games this season while maintaining a 3.06 ERA. Manager Mike Matheny will have to make a tough decision concerning the 4th starter as both Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly are more than qualified for the spot. Joe Kelly seemingly had the spot locked up after a dominant stretch from July to September but then Wacha came along. In the month of September Wacha threw 31 and 1/3 innings while posting a 1.72 ERA and holding opponents to a .198 batting average. The highlight of this stretch came on September 24th when Wacha came one out away from no hitting the Nationals. An infield-single from Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the 9th prevented Wacha from becoming the 3rd pitcher this season to throw a no-hitter. The Cardinals offense is also very experienced in the playoffs and many players on the team actually perform better under pressure. Carlos Beltran might be the most notable post-season performer. Over 124 postseason AB's Beltran has hit 363 with 14 homers. Beltran is joined by Jon Jay and Matt Holliday in the OF, both of whom have ample playoff experience. Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Daniel Descalso and David Freese make up the infield for the Cards. As many remember, David Freese has thrived in October in recent years, specifically in 2011 when he won the NCLS and World Series MVP awards. The post-season experience of the Cards looks to be a major asset against the Pirates in the NLDS.

Bottom Line: This Cinderella story does not have a happy ending.
Cardinals in 4

Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Red Sox: After a lackluster 2012 season the Red Sox have shushed all the critics in 2013. New manager John Farrell has done wonders with the Sox lineup and a series of acquisitions have totally reshaped the Red Sox roster this year. Newcomers Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Jake Peavy, Mike Napoli, David Ross, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew are all responsible for a big part of the Sox's success this year and will continue to be come playoff time. Gomes and Victorino along with Daniel Nava will team up with Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield for the majority of the postseason, with Gomes and Nava most likely splitting time. Mike Napoli, a pleasant surprise for most Sox fans after concerns over a hip defect nearly led to the prevention of his acquisition, will bring postseason experience to first base and will look to continue his hot streak after batting .333 with 6 HRs and 16 RBI in September. He will be joined by Dustin Pedroia at 2nd base who also provides ample postseason experience with 115 AB's including many from the 2007 postseason where the Red Sox took home the championship. The left side of the infield will be composed of Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks who have combined for over 30 RBI in the past month. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be behind the plate for the Sox with starters Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Peavy on the mound. After a brutal 2012 season Lester has found his old form and has been a solid #1 starter for the Sox. After not pitching in 2012 following 2 subpar years for the 34 year old, Lackey has won 10 games for Boston to accompany a 3.52 ERA in 189 innings. Peavy and Buchholz have both been hot as of late but certainly not as hot as closer Koji Uehara. Over the past 3+ months Uehara has put together one of the most dominant stretches in the history of the MLB. Allowing just 1 run in over 40 innings as a closer, Uehara led the league with a 1.09 ERA (minimum 50 innings) and set the MLB record for lowest WHIP (also minimum 50 innings) with a .57 WHIP, shattering the old record of .61. The Red Sox have as much potential as any team in the playoffs and if their offense can keep producing at the rate it has been, no one will be able to stop Boston.

Rays: After a 4-0 victory over Cleveland Wednesday night in a 1 game playoff, the Rays earned a spot against the mighty Red Sox in the ALDS. Just a few weeks ago the Rays playoffs hopes seemed dismal but they won 15 of 20 and finally secured a chance at a playoff spot. Alex Cobb shut out the Indians and Matt Moore will look to maintain the momentum Friday night when he pitches game 1. Cy Young winner David Price will take the mound for game 2 and the Ray's starter for game 3 is TBD. If the series goes 4 games Cobb will most likely get the start. The Rays offense has struggled at times during the season and averaged a full run less than the Red Sox. David DeJesus, Desmond Jennings and rookie slugger Wil Myers offer a good combination of speed and power in the outfield and Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria and ex-Red Sox first baseman James Loney make up the infield. Veteran Jose Molina will play behind the plate for the Rays and will add playoff experience to a Rays lineup that has a lot of young players. The Rays will go as far as their pitching takes them in the playoffs.

Bottom Line: Tampa's pitching is good but the Red Sox offense is even better.
Red Sox in 4


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great call with Beltran and the cards prediction, because of your article, I bet 10k on the cards and so far so good, you may have just made me a very wealthy man, thanks