2012 ALCS & NLCS
Tigers in 6
These two teams are nearly mirror images of each other, as they have power packed line up and good front line starting pitching. Both teams also for the most part have solid bullpens, with strong closers as Rafael Soriano has done yeoman’s work since the Yankees lost Mariano Rivera in May, while the Tigers Jose Valverde is usually reliable, Game 4 of the ALDS notwithstanding. Since both ALDS matchups went five games, both teams have their big ace buried later in the series. The Yankees though begin at a disadvantage as they have no days off between the start of the ALCS and Game 5 of the ALDS. This could be a problem in Game 3 when the Tigers start Justin Verlander, as CC Sabathia may not be ready to start. The Yankees, do however have the home field edge finishing with the better record. The ALDS was a big problem for the Yankees as several key hitters have been in protracted slumps. Though Curtis Granderson hit a home run in Game 5, whether or not it gets him going remains to be seen. However, if the Yankees are to return to the World Series, the Yankees will need Granderson to break out along with Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher to start hitting. The Tigers have looked better at the plate, have gotten strong starting pitching so far, and with their late season surge are playing better overall. Additionally last season when they met in the ALDS, these same slumping Yankees also struggled against Tigers pitching. Max Scherzer was a big key to this and seems to have the Yankees numbers. This series will be close, but in the end Scherzer will win two games and earn the ALCS MVP as the Tigers move on.
ALCS MVP: Max Scherzer Tigers
Giants in 7
The last two World Series winners meet in the NLCS, with a chance to go back to the Fall Classic on the line. Both teams staged unbelievable comebacks in the NLDS just to reach the Championship Series. The Giants lost the first two games on the NLDS at home, and then went to Cincinnati and won three straight at Great American Ballpark, where previously they had lost seven of eight. The Cardinals meanwhile continued to defy logic and rallied to win Game 5, after trailing the Nationals 6-0. The Cardinals just like last year’s World Series, where down two runs and down to their last out before scoring four runs in the ninth to break hearts all over Washington with a 9-7 win. The Giants are the home team in four games, though that may not be that big of an advantage. One hopeful sign for the Giants is that Tim Lincecum pitched well out of the bullpen in the NLDS. If he can carry that over into the series against the Cardinals the Giants may be sitting in the catbird seat. The Cardinals have not gotten strong starting pitching and the health of Jaime Garcia is a concern. Though the way they are able to battle from behind the way they never give up there is no doubt that this will be a long series and looks like a seven game series. The Giants have also had great clutch hitting especially in their three wins in Cincinnati, with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval each hitting big home runs. My sense is the Cardinals will continue to fight scratch and claw. However, in the end the Giants with Matt Cain, being the big go to ace pitcher winning the key games as the Giants return to the Fall Classic.