The 2010 MLB Postseason is finally among us. It was an incredible season in which many teams made some big surprises. I am willing to bet that no-one correctly guessed the entire playoff picture prior to the season. If you know of someone that did, please contact me, or send me a tweet @MikesPickz.
The Cincinnati Reds made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and they have tons of momentum. The Atlanta Braves will look to send Bobby Cox out of the MLB as a champion. The San Francisco Giants held off the San Diego Padres in a match-up that literally came down to the last game of the season. The Texas Rangers finally overcame the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. The Tampa Bay Rays return to the playoffs two seasons removed from winning the AL Pennant in 2008. Then there are the familiar faces – the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins all return to the postseason this year.
October baseball is always great and this season will not be any different. Here is how I see it playing out:
AL Wild Card Match-Up
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
Last season the Yankees competed against the Twins in the first round of the playoffs. The result a three game sweep for the Yankees, who went on to with their 27th World Series Championship. The Yankees have the type of offense that can carry acceptable pitching. First, they need to get some acceptable pitching. C.C. Sabathia is as good as they come and will be relied on as the workhorse that he is. Pettitte should live up to his postseason expectations, but they will need Hughes and Burnett to step up big time. Last season the Yankees were able to win the World Series on a three man rotation, this season they will need more than that. The Twins will have home field advantage in this match-up and that should help them avoid the sweep (but the cold is nothing new to the Yankees). Joe Mauer’s knee is a real question mark and if he is not effective the Twins might have some trouble- especially with Morneau out for the year.
Prediction: Yankees 3 – Twins 1
Bottom Line: The Yankees offense will carry them.
AL Divisional Match-Up
Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays
The Rangers have made the postseason for the first time since 1999 and they should prove to be a tough match-up for the Rays. The Rangers finally have some pitching to go along with their potent offense. I actually like the Rangers staff (Lee, Lewis, Hunter, Wilson) over the Rays staff (Price, Shields, Garza, Davis). Both teams have speed, but the Rangers have more pop. Josh Hamilton, one of the leading AL MVP candidates, looked good over the last couple of games after returning from a rib injury.
Prediction: Rangers 3 – Rays 2
Bottom Line: The Rangers will out-pitch and out-slug the Rays.
NL Wild Card Match-Up
Atlanta Braves vs San Francisco Giants
The Braves really struggled down the stretch, and were lucky to still make the playoffs. The Giants and Braves both made the playoffs with wins on the last day and this should be a tough match-up. The Giants have the upper hand in pitching, but they certainly can struggle to score runs at times. I expect a low scoring series, but the injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado are going to hurt the Braves line-up. Both clubs have great closers – Wagner (ATL) and Wilson (SF) – that know how to strike a batter out.
Prediction: Giants 3 – Braves 2
Bottom Line: The Braves just don’t have enough offense.
NL Divisional Match-Up
Cincinnati Reds vs Philadelphia Phillies
The Reds are “lucky” enough to play the team with the best record in the MLB in their first postseason series in fifteen years. The Phillies have the better starting rotation, but the Reds do have a leading MVP candidate in Joey Votto. The Reds staff has less innings than the Phillies’ H2O (Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt) and that might play a factor in this series. Each member of H2O has over 200 innings while only Arroyo has more than 200 innings for the Reds. If the Phillies make it past the Reds, the innings may creep up on them. Also, it will be interesting to see how Halladay performs in his first ever postseason start. Interesting stat- The Reds are the only team to score more runs than the Phillies in the National League this season. Also, let’s not forget about the dominant starting rotation of the 2009 Cardinals, that didn’t seem to work out too well.
Prediction: Reds 3 – Phillies 2
Bottom Line: The Reds are fresh and the Phillies’ offense hasn’t been consistent enough.
New York Yankees vs Texas Rangers
The Rangers and Yankees split their season series (4-4) and will look to settle the score on the field when it really matters. The Rangers have a slight edge in pitching and but the Yankees have a deeper line-up when things are clicking. Both teams have leading MVP candidates (Hamilton and Cano), and this should be a thrilling series.
Prediction: Yankees 4 – Rangers 3
Bottom Line: The Yankees are more experienced and that should help them prevail.
Cincinnati Reds vs San Francisco Giants
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that the Reds and Giants would be battling for the NL Pennant, I would have thought you were crazy. This game is going to come down to whether or not the Giants can keep up with the Reds offensively.
Prediction: Reds 4 – Giants 2
Bottom Line: The Reds will be able to outscore the Giants pretty comfortably.
New York Yankees vs Cincinnati Reds
The Reds would have home field advantage in this match-up since the National League was able to win the All-Star game. The Yankees did not face the Reds during the regular season and both teams should match-up in terms of pitching. The two differences will be experience and hitting. The Yankees have by far the more potent offense, with three players surpassing the 100 RBI mark (compared to one for the Reds). Home field advantage will be important for the Reds, since it forces the Yankees to take a bat out of the line-up.
Prediction: Yankees 4 – Reds 2
Bottom Line: The Yankees have too much fire power on offense and they have a true dominant ace, unlike the Reds.
What are your thoughts? Agree or not, let me know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: BigLeagueBaseballs.com]