Both road teams the one-game Wild Card playoffs and now it's on the Divisional Round. Can the Nationals, Orioles and A's keep their dream seasons alive?
Visit thefan1060.com after each round for a full preview and predictions.
San Francisco Giants vs Cincinnati Reds
What to like about the Giants: For me, it all start with the man who should be named the NL MVP, Buster Posey. The Giants were expected to drop off after Melky Cabrera’s PED suspension, but instead, San Francisco ran away with the NL West. This team was my preseason pick to win the NL, mainly because of the pitching. It will be interesting to see how much of a leash Tim Lincecum will have when he starts.
What to like about the Reds: Cincinnati has quietly been one of the best teams in baseball all season long. Matt Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto have carried the Reds down the stretch. The offense has been quite the same since Joey Votto went down with an injury, but the Reds find ways to score runs. And then of course there’s Aroldis Chapman. There were some velocity issues about a month ago, but if Cinny’s starters can get quality outings from their starters they should win this series.
What to expect: Matt Cain gives San Francisco a significant edge in Game 1, but after that it’s a crapshoot. I think the rest of Cincinnati’s rotation will out-perform the Giants, and if that happens, the Reds should wrap up this series rather quickly.
Reds in 4
St. Louis Cardinals vs Washington Nationals
What to like about the Cardinals: The Cardinals reminded everyone why they should not be counted out. Few people expected St. Louis to beat Atlanta, and while it came with some controversy (and poor play for the Braves), the Cardinals showed they are not to be taken lightly. Still, that bullpen remains the Achilles’ heel of this team.
What to like about the Nationals: The Nationals are a great all-around baseball team. The starting pitching has fantastic all year, which makes me believe they won’t miss Stephen Strasburg too much. The bullpen has been just hair better than the Cardinals bullpen, but I’m not sure either team has a significant advantage there. For Washington, it will come down to whether or not Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse can carry their regular season success into the postseason.
What to expect: The Cardinals will make this a series, but I just don’t trust their bullpen in the later innings to pick an upset here. Washington is the better team from top to bottom, but the Nationals are pretty much in a no-win scenario. Any time the Cardinals win a game, the pundits will cry that Strasburg should have pitched.
Nationals in 5
Detroit Tigers vs Oakland Athletics
What to like about the Tigers: There is a ton to like about the Tigers. In fact, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Detroit win the World Series. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is a lethal one-two punch. However, the defense scares me and Jose Valverde has been shaky all season long. Then there’s Justin Verlander. Verlander is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, just not in the postseason. In 8 starts, Verlander is 3-3 with a 5.57 ERA and has given up seven home runs.
What to like about the Athletics: Bob Melvin continues his magic. Oakland was done, trailing the Rangers by 13 games in the AL West. But, as you know, the A's beat Texas on the final day of the season to win the division. The Athletics were a major-league best 51-25 after the All-Star Break. Yoneis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and a much of no-names have stunned the baseball world. Can they keep it up in October?
What to expect: The Tigers rotation after Verlander and their shaky defense is why I'm going with the A's. Detroit has the better bats, but if guys like Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone continue to pitch the way they have, Detroit will lose its pitching edge. I say it happens.
A’s in 5
Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees
What to like about the Orioles: Baltimore showed why they are tough team to face already. Joe Saunders (Joe Saunders?!?!) pitched brilliantly and the Orioles timely hitting should up once again. The O’s are a ridiculous 75-0 when leading after seven innings this season. This team just finds ways to win.
What to like about the Yankees: Any discussion about the Yankees World Series chances has to start with C.C. Sabathia. He is one of the most dominate postseason pitchers in the game right now. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano have been carrying this team all year as it has dealt with many injuries to several key players.
What to expect: On paper, the Yankees should win this series, but I am worried about the toll the injuries have taken on this club. New York is banged up, while Baltimore seems to be a team of destiny. I trust the Orioles will find ways to win in the late innings, something they have been doing all year long.
Orioles in 5