I'm going to be the first to admit it. I had a bad year of predicting the playoff teams. I picked Boston, Minnesota, LA Angels and Chicago for the American League. None of them are here. So I guess that makes it easier to pick the American League winner now. In the National League I only got one right. That was Philadelphia. The others were San Francisco, Cincinnati and Colorado. Who did I pick to win the World Series? It was Philadelphia. That much I have going forward. Without further adieu, the breakdown of this years Division Series.
American League Division Series
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
Now some will say that this would be a cake walk for the Yankees. It's an AL Central team. The Yankees have beaten up those teams in the past. Yes, that was the Minnesota Twins. This time it's the Detroit Tigers. Big difference. The reason being is that Detroit has some pretty good pitchers. Not just Justin Verlander. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer aren't too shabby either. I can guarantee that the Yankees would like to have both of them in their rotation right now. Not to mention that Detroit's lineup is stacked with great hitters. 1B Miguel Cabrera sits in the middle and is protected by DH Victor Martinez who has been worth every penny. C Alex Avila is having a monstrous season and has been a big part of the pitching staffs success. Don't forget about waiver wire pickup OF Delmon Young who took off since being acquired with 8 HR and 32 RBI. He doubled his home run total and matched his RBI total with Minnesota in just 40 games with Detroit.
Now New York doesn't have any slouches either. SS Derek Jeter and 2B Robinson Cano are running the show while 1B Mark Teixeira and OF Nick Swisher provide the support. The important thing for New York will be if Cano can continue his hitting prowess against superior pitching. Out of every American League team this postseason, the Tigers have the best all around. Also which Alex Rodriguez will show up. The injury plagued one or the one that helped to a World Series title back in 2009. Of course the biggest problem with the Yankees has been their pitching. C.C. Sabathia can only do so much. If he falters in Game 1, what's to say that Ivan Nova or Freddy Garcia can mount a comeback. I don't think it's a going to be a clean sweep either way, but if Verlander is still his dominant self. Does New York stand a chance?
Tigers in 4 games
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers
The epic comeback of the Tampa Bay Rays this season will be remembered for a long time. It should also be noted that the Rays did all of this without a big portion of the players that lead to playoff appearances just a few seasons ago. There are some new faces that are leading the way. One of them is pitcher Matt Moore, who in limited time lit a spark for the Rays at crucial points down the stretch of September. He along with James Shields and David Price will form a fabulous trio against the high powered offense of Texas. 3B Evan Longoria is clearly going to be up to the challenge of leading this club offensively, but he will need help from the likes of OF B.J. Upton and 1B Casey Kotchman who was competing for the AL batting title this year. If the Rays can continue this magical run it could bode well for them in late October.
Other than the Detroit Tigers the Texas Rangers had a fairly easy road in September. They beat Oakland and Seattle down the stretch while the Angels struggled against the likes of Oakland and Seattle. That was the difference between them and the Angels. Texas won the games they were supposed to win. The Rangers are very thankful to have a healthy 3B Adrian Beltre just in time for the postseason. He brings a big presence in the middle of their lineup and defensively as well. OF Nelson Cruz will have to remain healthy if the Rangers are to make it back to the World Series and they will need continued power from C Mike Napoli. The big question is with their pitching staff. Without Cliff Lee, its just C.J. Wilson and whomever. The Rangers will go with Derek Holland in Game 2, but after that it's either Colby Lewis or Alexi Ogando. Both struggled mightily down the stretch, but Lewis will probably get the start because of last years performance. It's a different Rays team the Rangers are facing this year.
Rays in 5 games
National League Division Series
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Cardinals made it to the postseason when myself and so many others had them out back at the beginning of September. Now that they're in, I don't know if they can get any further. The Cardinals best hitters, 1B Albert Pujols, OF Lance Berkman and OF Matt Holliday are going to have their hands full against the Phillies pitching staff. Will the Cardinals pitchers, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson and Chris Carpenter be able to match the Phillies? It's hard to say yes to that question, but look what the Giants did last year and the Phillies didn't have Cliff Lee at that time. The Cardinals have been playing scrappy baseball down the stretch and were thankful to play the Houston Astros for their final series. However, I don't think there will be enough left in their bullpen to save a lead.
We all know who the Phillies have, but lets say their names anyway; Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Yeah, that's pretty good. I'm not sold on the Phillies bullpen either, but if you can give those starters a big enough lead or have them pitch the entire game, it won't be that much of a problem. 2B Chase Utley has to play up to his standards in this injury riddled year and will OF Hunter Pence be just as good during the postseason as he was when he was acquired before the trade deadline? He will have to if 1B Ryan Howard has a bad start. Howard will be the key to their success this postseason.
Phillies in 4 games
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
This is the most intriguing matchup. Both of these teams were red hot during the summer and wrapped up their division titles in the middle of September. Arizona has the worst to first tag to them this year. Thanks in large part to their ace Ian Kennedy. He along with the rest of the pitching staff have done just enough to keep the Diamondbacks afloat in the NL West. The Giants did gain some ground, but the lead was too big. What happens after Kennedy is on the mound will be the story for Arizona. They don't have as deep a staff as Milwaukee, but Joe Saunders does have some postseason experience and Daniel Hudson is a hard throwing type. Arizona's bread and butter though is with their offense. OF Justin Upton will finally be seen on the big stage. He has been flanked by a young corp and a veteran corp that has been perfectly mixed to create a winning environment. It will be interesting to see if it can continue with the spotlight looming large.
The Brewers are making a big push this year to make some noise in this postseason. Mainstay Yovani Gallardo will get the ball for Game 1. Rest assured the big offseason acquisitions Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum will get their chance as well. They also have a veteran in Randy Wolf who will prove to be invaluable if they get past the Division Series. The bullpen was built to win now with Francisco Rodriguez being a setup man to closer John Axford. That combination could prove to be a monumental success. OF Ryan Braun is taking this team to new heights. Whether 1B Prince Fielder stays after this year or not is at the back burner now. All that matters is bringing a championship to Milwaukee. It's hard to believe that the Brewers have only been to the playoffs now two times in the last 30 years. Now is the time for that trend to change.
Brewers in 4 games