2011 ALDS & NLDS
Yankees in 5
This should be a good series from start to finish. On one side you have the Yankees power packed lineup on the other side you have the Tigers led by Justin Verlander the best pitcher in the majors in 2011. During the season the Tigers won four of seven meetings, as four games were in Detroit. However, with all seven games coming in the first five weeks of the season, it is impossible to use them as a measuring stick for the ALDS meeting. The key for the Tigers is obviously Justin Verlader, who may be a chance to pitch twice in this series. If he Tigers are to win they will need their ace to be at his best. The Yankees will equally need a good effort from their ace CC Sabathia who will square off against Mr. Verlander in the series opener. Ultimately this series will come down to match ups. Both teams have strong closers and will have a chance to make the games last eight innings. The Yankees middle relief is a tad better with David Robertson. In the end this is where the series will be won, and the Tigers lack of a strong left hander in the lineup, rotation and bullpen will be their undoing as the Yankees win a hard fought series in five games.
Rangers in 4
Last year when these two met it was the Rangers upsetting the top seeded Rays in five games, as Cliff Lee frustrated the Rays twice, with the road team winning all five games in the series. The Rangers do not have Cliff Lee this year, but with a strong year from C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland the Rangers did not miss a beat winning the AL West for the second straight season. The Rays on the other hand needed a miracle to reach the postseason, taking full advantage of the Red Sox collapse. The Rays could be a magical team of destiny, with their seven run comeback in the season finale. However, the Rangers have a strong line up that could beat up on the Rays tired pitching staff that had to do a lot of stressful pitching down the stretch. I don’t expect this to be a road series this year as the Rangers have broken the bad vibes in the postseason in Arlington, in the end the Rays will get a win, but it will be clear the Rangers are the better team as they win this series rather easily.
Phillies in 4
This is a series the Phillies could be vulnerable in, as they lost six of nine during the regular season, as the Cardinals provide some difficult match ups for the Phillies. However, one should be careful to put too much into the regular season numbers, as the Cardinals won three or four games in September after the Phillies were securely in the postseason, while the Cardinals needed every win to overcome an eight and half game hole in September to beat out the Braves for the Wild Card. The Phillies do have a ton of pressure on them, as they have had the World Series or bust mission on them all season long. The pitching of the Phillies led by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who has a successfully postseason history will be the key of this series as they will be able to shutdown the Cardinals lineup. The Phillies also hold the important edge in the bullpen, which at times has been a weakness in St. Louis. This could be the toughest NL match up for he the Phillies who all season have been the best team in baseball all season and will be the team to beat in the playoffs.
Brewers in 5
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the biggest surprise of the eight teams in the MLB Postseason as they finished in last place last season and lost 97 games. Many experts picked them to finish at the bottom of the National League West again this year. The D-Backs turnaround was due in part to their pitching led by Ian Kennedy who will start Game 1, after a breakout 21-4 season. With 57 wins at Miller Park, the Brewers were the best team at home in the majors this season. The Brewers have the homefield advantage in this series, and it could be one of those series where the home team wins all five games. The Brewers with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have the hitting advantage, and also hold an advantage in the bullpen with John Axford, the NL’s top closer leading the way. I will be surprised if this series does not go the distance, and with Game 5 in Milwaukee I see the Brewers going to their first appearance in the League Championship Series, when they were still in the American League.