The Major League Baseball playoffs are finally upon us. The division series feature four intriguing and exciting match-ups between the top eight teams in baseball. The following is an inside look at each series.

Boston/Los Angeles

The Angels (100-62) and Red Sox (95-67) have some recent playoff history. In both 2004 and 2007 the Angels were swept by the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Why should this year be any different?

  • The trade-deadline acquisition of Mark Teixeira gives the Angels a big hitter in the middle of the lineup to finally complement Vladimir Guerrero.
  • The Angels have three front-of-the-rotation pitchers with John Lackey (12-5), Ervin Santana (16-7) and Joe Saunders (17-7).
  • Josh Beckett, the Red Sox ace and Angel killer, recently suffered an oblique strain and won’t be ready to pitch until Game 3, if at all. Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew are also nursing injuries, softening the Red Sox offense.
  • The Angels had the regular-season edge against the Red Sox, winning eight of nine games.

Why none of the above matters to the Red Sox:

  • The combination of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedrioa, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay to begin the Red Sox lineup is one of the most if not the most potent in the league.
  • Even if history doesn’t matter, the Red Sox players have it in their heads that they completely own the Angels in the playoffs, while some of the Angels players may have it in their heads too. In other words, there is a psychological edge.
  • With a record of 56-25 at Fenway Park this season, if the Red Sox can steal a game in Anaheim you can almost hand them the series.
  • Boston will be defending its World Series title.

Schedule of Games:
Game 1: BOS @ LAA, Oct. 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Projected Starters: Jon Lester and John Lackey

Game 2: BOS @ LAA, Oct. 3
Projected Starters: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Ervin Santana

Game 3: LAA @ BOS, Oct. 5
Projected Starters: Joe Saunders and Josh Beckett

Game 4: LAA @ BOS, Oct. 6
Projected Starters: John Lackey and Jon Lester

Game 5: BOS @ LAA, Oct. 8
Projected Starters: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Ervin Santana

Series prediction: The Angels overcome the “Red Sox aura” to win in four games.

Chicago/Tampa Bay

The AL East-winning Rays (97-65) face the newly crowned AL Central-winning White Sox (89-74) in an interesting ALDS match-up. The Rays are a young team and are in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history while the White Sox have a relatively old team filled with veterans.

Why the veteran White Sox think they’ll take this series:

  • They have been in a playoff atmosphere for the last week and now have the momentum from winning the one-game playoff against the Twins.
  • Many of their players have been here before. Trust me, experience counts for something, and the White Sox have Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks all returning back to the playoffs after their World Series victory in 2005.
  • They have soon to be Rookie of the Year runner-up Alexei Ramirez. He set a rookie record with four grand slams this year with his last one vaulting the White Sox into the one-game playoff.
  • The Rays are too young to overcome the magnitude of the playoffs and won’t be a match for Chicago’s clutch play.

Why the young Rays think they’ll go the distance:

  • They have never been here before. Most of their team has never played in October and even though the experience could be overwhelming, it also creates opportunities for young players to finally become noticed by the general public.
  • They have soon to be named AL Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria. Simply put, this kid is amazing and paired with young stars like Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton they are ready to show that the Rays are here to stay.
  • They have a kid named David Price. You may not know him now, but there is a good chance you will when the playoffs are over. The first overall pick in the 2007 draft may have a Francisco Rodriguez-like impact in this series.
  • Their three-man pitching rotation is filthy. James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza are all budding stars and I believe will develop into a trio of the same dominance as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were in the ’90s.

Schedule of Games:

Game 1: CWS @ TB, Oct. 2 at 11:30 a.m.
Projected Starters: Javier Vazquez and James Shields

Game 2: CWS @ TB, Oct. 3
Projected Starters: Mark Buehrle and Scott Kazmir

Game 3: TB @ CWS, Oct. 5
Projected Starters: Matt Garza and Gavin Floyd

Game 4: TB @ CWS, Oct. 6
Projected Starters: James Shields and John Danks

Game 5: CWS @ TB, Oct. 8
Projected Starters: Mark Buehrle and Scott Kazmir

Series prediction: The youthful Rays get it done in four games.

Los Angeles/Chicago

The Dodgers (84-78) and Cubs (97-64) meet up in what could be the best match-up of the playoffs. Both teams have solid pitching, veteran players and confidence to go the distance.

Why the Dodgers think they have the stuff to knock off the Cubbies:

  • One player in mind stands out – Manny Ramirez. He has batted .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in just 53 games with the Dodgers. An incredible feat to say the least.
  • Their pitching depth is incredible. They moved Greg Maddux and phenom Clayton Kershaw to the bullpen and still have three solid starters for the series.
  • The Cubs pitching is overrated. Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden are either lights-out or question marks and right now they are more of the latter.

Why the Cubs think they are the favorites to win this series and the World Series:

  • They have a loaded offense. Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto provide a powerful punch that will be needed to hit the Dodgers pitching.
  • Their pitching staff can be more un-hittable than the Dodgers staff. No player wants to face Ryan Dempster, followed by Carlos Zambrano and then Rich Harden. It’s a combination of pitchers that makes any player weak in the knees.
  • It has been 100 years since their last World Series title, putting the Cubs on a mission that begins here.

    Schedule of Games:

    Game 1: LA @ CHC, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m.
    Projected Starters: Derek Lowe and Ryan Dempster

    Game 2: LA @ CHC, Oct. 2
    Projected Starters: Chad Billingsley and Carlos Zambrano

    Game 3: CHC @ LA, Oct. 4
    Projected Starters: Rich Harden and Hiroki Kuroda

    Game 4: CHC @ LA, Oct. 5
    Projected Starters: Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe

    Game 5: LA @ CHC, Oct. 7
    Projected Starters: Chad Billingsley and Carlos Zambrano

    Series prediction: In what many would call an upset, the Dodgers win in five games.


    Both teams benefited from the New York Mets’ collapse and now they meet in what should be a competitive series. The Phillies (92-70) have the brute force, while the Brewers (90-72) have the magic.

    Why the Brewers think they’ll pull the rabbit out of the hat:

    • They have head magician CC Sabathia (11-2). His stint with the Brewers has been so good that he may win the Cy Young award while only playing half a year in the NL. If the Brew Crew can force a Game 5, this one is over.
    • Milwaukee has momentum. Yes, they almost threw away the Wild Card spot, but regaining it and playing well in the clutch gives them confidence.
    • It’s been 26 years since the last time the Brewers have been to the playoffs. I think they just might want it a little more.
    • They have sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder filling the middle of the lineup. And did I mention CC Sabathia?

      Why the Phillies think they’ll plow their way to the NLCS:

      • The middle of the Phillies lineup is about as powerful as it gets. Ryan Howard leads the way along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth to pose a huge threat to any staff and bullpen.
      • The Brewers will be without their second ace, Ben Sheets. Instead, the Phillies get to face Yovani Gallardo in Game 1, a young flame-thrower who just came back from a near-season-ending injury. The loss of Sheets also forces Jeff Suppan, who has a 5.91 ERA against the Phillies this year, to make the Game 3 start.
      • They have Cole Hamels, a pitcher who can take over any game. The Brewers’ pedestrian offense may simply be overmatched.

      Schedule of Games:

      Game 1: MIL @ PHI, Oct. 1 at 12:00 p.m.
      Projected Starters: Yovani Gallardo and Cole Hamels

      Game 2: MIL @ PHI, Oct. 2
      Projected Starters: CC Sabathia and Brett Myers

      Game 3: PHI @ MIL, Oct. 4
      Projected Starters: Jamie Moyer and Jeff Suppan

      Game 4: PHI @ MIL, Oct. 5
      Projected Starters: Cole Hamels and Yovani Gallardo

      Game 5: MIL @ PHI, Oct. 7
      Projected Starters: CC Sabathia and Brett Myers

      Series prediction: CC Sabathia continues his dominance to help the Brewers win in five games.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *