Predictions Made 10/13/10 at 10:35 pm ET
Yankees in 6
The Texas Rangers can beat the Yankees that can be put out of the way quickly, as the Bronx Bombers though defending champion are far from invincible. The Rangers have solid pitching and most importantly have solid left handed pitching. The best of these pitchers is Cliff Lee who started the ALDS and finished the ALDS with 5-1 wins over the Rays. Last year in the World Series Lee than with the Phillies handcuffed the Yankees twice. It was the only two games the Yankees lost in the fall classic. Cliff Lee has been unbeatable in the postseason during his career, so it is easy to imagine him being able to win two games in the ALCS. What the Rangers need to do is find two wins from their other starters. If they can do that they will win this series. However, that may be a little easier said than done. With their series against the Rays going five games they needed to pitch Cliff Lee twice. This means he won't start until Game 3 in the Bronx. The Good News for the Rangers is this will have him in line to start Game 7 if this series goes that far. With that hanging over the heads of the Yankees, it could turn this series into a best of six for the Bombers.
One thing that is a troubling sign for the Rangers is their struggles at home in the ALDS where they lost both games. If they can't find a way to win one of the first two games in Arlington, chances are they will not be returning to Texas. The Rays were a very talented team, and beating them three times in Tropicana Field was a big accomplishment. However, the Yankees have a much larger home field edge at Yankee Stadium than the stale Tropicana Field which at times has the atmosphere of a Costco. The Yankees pitching looked strong in the ALDS, if it continues it will make life that much harder. Add to the Yankees experience and history of finding ways to win and the odds are stacked up against the Rangers.
The Rangers did sweep the Yankees in a three game series in September, but at the time the Yanks were struggling and focusing on resting and preparing for the playoffs. Against the Twins the Yankees seemed to find all the clutch hits, and with the patience of their deep lineup the Rangers bullpen must pitch better in this series, as Mariano Rivera the best ever gives the Yankees a big advantage in the pen, despite the stellar year from Neftali Feliz who struggled against the Rays. In the end this is why the Yankees will win, with Rivera winning series MVP honors.
Giants in 7
Like water in the desert runs in this year's NLCS will be a vital but rare gift that will be the difference between life and death. The Phillies have Roy Halladay at the top of their rotation; he is just the best pitcher in baseball, and the likely Cy Young winner in the National League. Leading the Giants is Tim Lincecum he's only won the two previous Cy Young awards. Halladay was untouchable in the NLDS pitching just the second postseason No Hitter in baseball history. Lincecum pitched a complete game shutout and struck out 14 Braves in a 1-0 win. Lincecum is used to winning with little run support, and demonstrates just how great a pitcher can be and clutch he can be by making the most with the very least. It is conceivable that these two great pitchers will matchup as many as three times during the NLCS.
The Phillies have great secondary pitching with Roy Oswalt who has been outstanding since being acquired from the Astros at the trade deadline; he will be followed by Cole Hammels who won the 2008 NLDS and World Series MVP awards. The Giants are strong in that department as well with Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. If pitching is your thing get the popcorn because this series is going to be one treat after another.
Obviously and for good reason the Phillies are a big favorite to reach their third straight World Series. They have a stronger deeper lineup than the Giants, and have the experience factor. However, in this the year of the pitcher I look at the Giants as being the ultimate fly in the Phillies ointment. During the regular season they split six matchups so it's not walk over here. Plus the Giants handed Halladay a loss. Lincecum on the other hand is just the right pitcher the Giants need to win this series, and if they are to win the series he will have to be the difference. I won't be shocked to see NLCS MVP Tim Lincecum get three wins as the Giants win in seven games, with every game likely to be decided by two runs or less.