2010 ALDS & NLDS
Rays in 4
If the Rangers are to pull off the upset, they are going to need super human efforts from Cliff Lee. The Rays have the deeper starting rotation and a strong bullpen. The Rangers bullpen is not a weakness, especially with likely Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz, but Rafael Soriano has been nearly automatic in the closer spot for the Rays. Health will also play a key factor, as Evan Longoria will be needed in the series, as the Rays offense scuffled in the final week of the season without. However, the Rangers have their own injury issue as Joey Hamilton missed most of September with a cracked rib. In the end the Rays were here just two years ago, and that will be the deciding factor, as they will win in four games, but it will not be easy as this could easily go the distance.
Yankees in 4
The Yankees did not play well down the stretch; this should not be completely ignored when factoring this series. However, the Yankees just have the Twins number, again this year they won the season series, as the Twins just don’t match up well with the Yankees. Francisco Liriano is a good pitcher, but against CC Sabathia, it will be hard to imagine him being able to shut down the Yankees offense enough to get the Twins a win, and this will be the key matchup. The Yankees did not go full throttle in September, and often turning it back on is difficult, but when so many of their players have been here before it will be hard to imagine the Yankees going out in the ALDS. This whole season has set up as a Yankees-Rays showdown and nothing is going to stop that as the Yanks win in four.
Phillies in 3
The worst possible scenario for the Reds has come true; they are facing the Phillies in the NLDS. In the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, the young Reds do have a bright future, but when they are matched against the two-time National League Champion it is no contest. The Phillies are certainly the team to beat this season, and with their monster second half and solid three man rotation it may be nearly impossible to beat them. Offensively with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the Phillies have one of the best line ups in baseball as well. The Reds do not have the pitching to stop this line up and the Reds line up will have a tough time breaking through against the Phillies pitching if they win a game they should be happy with that, but it will be hard t o imagine anything less than a sweep.
Giants in 4
It’s one last round for Braves Manager Bobby Cox, as the soon to be Hall of Famer is managing for the last time. The Giants come in thanks to a late season surge to win the Western Division; the Braves on the other hand were barely hanging on due to injuries as the season came to an end. As with the great Brave teams of the 90’s, pitching is going to be the key to this series. However, it’s the Giants who have the best pitching. With Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez, they have perhaps the best chance of knocking off the Phillies. The only thing that could stand in the way is the Braves have much more experience in October, as the Giants are young team tasting the playoffs for the first time. However, this experience is a double edged sword, as key players for the Braves are out or playing hurt. Look for the Giants to take the series in four games.