The 2014 MLB season and come and gone. It featured numerous major storylines – Derek Jeter’s retirement tour, the Kansas City Royals finally making the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw’s potential MVP season, to name a few.
We should have some tremendous series take place throughout the playoffs, but will the lack of major markets (outside of LA) hurt National ratings? Probably, but Regional numbers should be stronger than ever – especially in the Baltimore region, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
AL Wild Card Game:
Athletics over the Royals: Despite the very poor showing the Athletics put-on after the All-Star break (.433 winning percentage), this is exactly why they pulled the trigger for Jon Lester. I think that move allows them to win this game.
NL Wild Card Game:
Giants over the Pirates: Pitching wins, and I’ll take Madison Bumgarner over Edison Volquez every time. Although Volquez has pitched very well after the All-Star break, I just don’t trust him after last year’s playoff game. Add to the fact that the Pirates struggled more against lefties throughout the season and I see the Giants winning this game.
AL Divisonal Series (ALDS):
Athletics over the Angels: I’m going with the theme that pitching will prevail. The Angels by far have the better hitters in this series, but when the Athletics will be able to pitch Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray and then Jon Lester against the Angels rotation filled with question marks, I just can’t helped going with the Cinderella story of the Athletics.
Tigers over the Orioles: I really want to go with the Orioles in this series, but did you see the Tigers starting rotation? The last three CY Young Winners (Justin Verlander, David Price and Max Scherzer) should provide enough to cover the less than stellar Tigers bullpen. The Orioles may have a dominant bullpen, but I just don’t see them getting enough leads to take this series. Miguel Cabrera, the AL’s Player of the Month for September, is on-fire when it matters most, unlike his injured postseason last year and I think that makes a difference.
NL Divisional Series (NLDS):
Nationals over the Giants: The Nationals will continue to roll after ending the season with Jordan Zimmerman’s no-hitter. The Giants don’t have enough pitching to win this series, and that is compounded by them having to use their best pitcher just to get to this series.
Dodgers over the Cardinals: Clayton Kershaw and the NL’s Player of the Month for September (Matt Kemp), should keep the Dodgers rolling (they ended on a 5 game winning streak) and allow them to win the rematch of the 2013 NLCS.
Tigers over the Athletics: The two best pitching staffs in the American League will face-off for the ALCS, and in this series the hitting will be the difference. With both teams able to start three legitimate aces during this series, timely hitting is going to make the difference. Cabrera and the Tigers have too much firepower for the Athletics to keep up with.
Nationals over the Dodgers: As much as it seems like it, Clayton Kershaw will not be able to win a seven game series by himself. Although the Dodgers pitching is no joke, the Nationals had the #1 pitching staff in the entire majors with a combined 3.03 ERA. They have enough hitting to compete with the Dodgers (.714 OPS compared to the Dodgers .738), and if they have a lead at the end of games – their bullpen is going to be too much for the Dodgers.
Nationals over the Tigers: If you have read the rest of this post, this pick will not be a surprise. The Nationals pitching is too deep for the Tigers. Although the Tigers have the last 3 AL CY Young winners, their team ERA is only 4.01 which is a full run worse than the Nationals 3.03. When the game is on the line, the disparity is even bigger with the Nationals’ relievers having a 3.00 ERA (4th best in the MLB) compared to the Tigers’ relievers having a 4.29 (4th worst in the MLB).
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