2014 ALDS & NLDS
Angels in 4
No matter what happens to the Kansas City Royals from here on out everything is the cherry on top. Not only did the Royals play their first postseason game in 29 years, they won one of the most thrilling playoff games in recent history. Down 7-3 in the eighth inning against the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game, the Royals literally stole their way back into the game, winning 9-8 in 12 innings. One bad thing about expending so much emotion is that they will be scrambling to line up their pitching once they get to Anaheim to start the ALDS against the Angels. The Angels are clearly the team to beat in the American League, as they finished with the best record in baseball at 98-64. The Angels have everything you need to win the World Series, with Mike Trout leading the way. The Royals bullpen is a strength and played a key role in their comeback against the Athletics. However, when you have a team of big hitters like the Angels with Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton a team that also is quick on the bases unlike the lumbering A’s and team that since July 1st has posted a record of 53-29 it is hard to imaging they can keep up their Cinderella story. The Royals may be able to steal a game in Kansas City but that is chartable at best.
Tigers in 4
Now is money time for the Tigers. The Detroit Tigers on paper have the best rotation in baseball with the last three Cy Young winners in the American League. They also boast a lineup with two time MVP Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez who is in the MVP conversation this year. The Orioles have a power packed lineup themselves led by Nelson Cruz the only player in MLB to hit 40 home runs this season. However, in the postseason more often than not it is quality pitching that shuts down the power teams. With Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price all at the forefront it will be tough for the O’s to get much going. The Orioles did have a decent year pitching, and have an edge in the pen as the late innings are often an adventure for the Moto City Kitties. However, it is the only edge Baltimore has in this series. The Tigers have been to the ALCS in the each of the last three seasons and coming off a strong finish. Though all six meetings were early in the season, the Tigers dominated the Orioles in the regular season, winning five of six games including a three game sweep in Camden Yards in May. Looking up and down the balanced Tigers line up looking at the starting rotation and the experience factor it is hard not to pick the Detroit Tigers to advance to the ALCS for a fourth year in a row.
Nationals in 5
Two years ago the Nationals were in the same situation, but due to their innings limit on Stephen Strasburg, they were without a key piece as they suffered a major meltdown against the Cardinals. Strasburg is unlimited this year and the Nats goal is sky high. Stephen Strasburg may be the biggest name, but he is not even the best pitcher in a deep rotation that had the best team ERA in the National League. No matter who Washington sends to the mound, he is going to be hard to hit. The Giants also have a strong rotation, and they have the added intangible of championship experience that can only come from winning two World Series. The Giants may even have a slight advantage in the lineup especially if Pedro Sandoval and Buster Posey find a groove. The Nats though do have some lumber too led by Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth capable of delivering the big hit. However, what may hurt the Giants is that Wild Card game and the quick turnaround needed to start the Division Series. The Nationals also have dominated the Giants this season, winning five of seven and often blowing them out. Either one of these teams could go on to win the World Series, and while the Giants won in 2010 and 2012 this looks like the year for the Nationals as they survive in five.
Dodgers in 5
Everything points to the Dodgers having a huge advantage in this series, but the Cardinals are like Jason, Michael Meyers and Freddy Kruger in October. You think they are dead, but the next thing you know you get a machete thrust through your heart as the Cardinals move on. The Dodgers should know this better than anybody as they were beaten in the NLCS last season by the Red Birds, with Clayton Kershaw getting hit hard and losing twice. This year the Cardinals are not as good as they were last year and the Dodgers are a better team. However, when the leaves begin to turn Cardinal red, against the chilled October sky you can throw that all away. The Dodgers should get a boost by playing three games at home, and Zack Grenkie has also been terrific. The Cardinals lineup has struggled at times, and the season series was close with Los Angeles winning four of seven games. The Dodgers lineup is strong and deep Matt Kemp with a second half surge and RBI champ Adrian Gonzalez. Yasiel Puig can be an x factor as he can win a game or lose a game. He has a cannon for an arm, power and speed but his decision making needs to be better in the postseason or the Dodgers could end up taking a shocking fall. This series has five games written all over it and the Dodgers will escape with a close win at home to advance to the NLCS.