ALDS Expert Analysis and Predictions
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
I will be the first to say that I did not want the Rays in the postseason. With their first scheduled meeting today at 3:07 PM, Tampa has snuck into the playoffs winning on the road in Toronto to force a play-in game with the Texas Rangers for the Wild Card, beating them, and then defeating the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card playoff, all on the road. I liked Cleveland, and I wanted to see them win, but Tampa would have none of it thanks to their pitching. Although not as amazing as National League pitching (or that of Detroit), these guys get the job done under pressure in playoff situations. David Price is going to be tough to beat, and has the composure of a veteran in the postseason. Although Jeremy Hellickson has been really iffy this season, with Price and Moore heading their staff, if they can get past Boston after using both Price and Moore to reach this point, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. Fernando Rodney out of the bullpen is simply fun to watch (and he’s good), as this young staff compliments the young bats of Tampa well. Rookie Wil Myers has been great so far, to compliment the Rays mainstays of Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, along with Boston/LAD castoff James Loney. Although these guys are all young hitters and tend to be more aggressive at the plate, I think that will play to their strengths against Boston command and control pitchers in this series.
Personally, I still don’t understand how the Red Sox are here. I simply don’t know how they are this good, in the best division in baseball. I do understand how David Ortiz (despite the basepath liability he is) and Dustin Pedroia are good hitters, and how Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino are quality players (yet not superstars), but the rest of the team? Stephen Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Daniel Nava, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks? They’re average players with average stats. Their pitching has obviously been their superiority and strength, as Clay Bucholz (when he’s healthy) is having a ridiculous year, but beyond that I’m not terribly impressed. John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy are all good pitchers but all very hittable. And Ryan Dumpster isn’t exactly something to brag about, and should be on the roster only for emergency long relief. At the start of the season I would’ve placed them to finish fourth in the AL East, and looking at their statistics now I probably would’ve said the same thing. And yet, they win ballgames, and a lot of them against good teams. I just can’t comprehend it.
Which is why I’m picking them to lose. Until they convincingly demonstrate to me that they’re actually good, I will always pick against them. Especially against the Rays who are coming in red-hot, and are not affected by playing on the road, and while they can start Moore and Price in the first two games at Boston. It’s a real shame that nobody goes to see Rays games in Tampa Bay, because they’re going to punch their ALCS ticket at home. Tampa Bay Rays in 3
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
Why are the Tigers so bad in the playoffs? The past two years they have had great teams, and yet at one point or another (2011 ALCS, 2012 WS) they simply lost all their moxie and got outplayed. Is this the year that they finally shake the monkey off their back and get it all right? It could be, because I don’t think their hitting has ever been better. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in all of baseball and just an absolute monster. Then you still have the power of Prince Fielder to deal with, along with the bats of Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, Jhonny Peralta, and even Omar Infante who all hit above .300 for the season. This team is like the Cardinals, except with more power and a deeper pitching staff. As any baseball fan should know, Max Scherzer is having what should be a Cy Young season. Anibal Sanchez is having a career year, and even though Justin Verlander is having an “off-year, his ERA is still under 3.50 and he’s almost averaging a strikeout per inning. This Detroit team has to put on a good playoff showing though, and convince everyone that they still have life after seeming rather lethargic toward the tail end of the season. If they can do that, there might be no stopping this team.
The A’s on the other hand, are a complete X factor as they always are. They receive very little press, and play in front of sparsely populated crowds, yet consistently win with different pieces every year. And then they win a lot of regular season ballgames, and lose in the Division Series just like last year against Detroit. I want them to win, because besides Bartolo Colon and his diet of Big Macs I like their team. Just like the Braves and Pirates, the A’s strike out a lot and they don’t hit for much average with only two everyday starters even close to hovering around .300, but they have a good amount of pop with Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss. And in traditional Oakland style, their pitching is what counts. Barty Colon has seemingly revitalized his steroid and grease ridden career with a ridiculous 2.65 ERA, supported by a young staff that although they aren’t superstars, throw quality games with ERAs under 4.00. They’re also very like the Red Sox in the fact that they play very well in their division, even though most teams don’t have a tough time playing the likes of Houston and Seattle.
I want Oakland to win, simply because they’re the underdog and they are due for some playoff victories. But when matched up against Detroit, the fact of the matter is that they are overmatched. The A’s should manage to steal a few games and make things interesting, in the end though, the Oakland playoff curse will continue, and the Tigers will be seeing a repeat of last seasons ALDS. Detroit Tigers in 5
Down the Road……
Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Unless Tampa manages to convincingly sweep Boston, there’s no way they will be able to handle the Tigers and all their weapons. Detroit Tigers in 6
Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
This will be a marquee matchup with fantastic staffs and great teams working together. But, Detroit falls apart again to an NL West squad. Los Angeles Dodgers in 5