[Photo by KILLADEFIA]
BY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY I nailed the playoffs last year. Picked the winners all the way through before it started and hit 6 out of 7 series. Correctly had the Phillies over the Rays in the World Series before a single playoff pitch was thrown. What I’m saying is…if only 1 of these 7 predictions pan out, I’m still batting .500 over the last two years. Here we go.
Division Series (Best of Five)
Yankees over Twins/Tigers. The winner of today’s one-game playoff between the Twins and Tigers will have some momentum, after all they’ve been playing intense playoff-style games for the last week. Still, neither team is really that good, and Minny is without Justin Morneau, their 2nd best player. Neither the Twins nor the Tigers have enough juice to topple the Yanks.
Bonus Twins-Tigers prediction: I like Minnesota’s starting pitcher Scott Baker in this matchup, and he’s been lights-out in big games before. And I’m sorry, but Detroit has the stench of chokers. If I’m right, today’s game will be your only chance to see Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, currently frontrunner for 2009 WNT (Worst New Tattoo). Check out the forearms.
Angels over Red Sox. This was the one series I missed last year — I had LA. The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 13 playoff games against the Angels, dating back to 1986. I’m not that stubborn, or am I? I just don’t see Yankees/Red Sox this year, and I think the Angels are the better team.
Cardinals over Dodgers. LA’s Clayton Kershaw is the man, but the rest of the Dodgers starting rotation is in shambles (think Phillies bullpen). Chad Billingley has sucked in the second half, and Hiroki Kuroda is broken. The Dodgers are looking at giving starts to Vicente Padilla and/or Jon Garland. That’s not gonna work.
Phillies vs. Rockies: This is a scary matchup for the Phillies, remember the 3-0 sweep at the hands of Colorado in 2007? That Rockies team was on fire, and this one is 74-42 since Jim Tracy (the shoo-in for Manager of the Year) took over at the end of May. The Rox surely lack the Phillies’ starpower on offense, but their starting pitching can be surprisingly effective. The Phils may have caught a break with the injury to Rockies SP Jorge de la Rosa, who is 16-3 since an 0-6 start. De la Rosa’s availability for this series wont be known until a Tuesday bullpen session. One big advantage for Colorado is that their bullpen can protect leads. Yes, I am picking the Phillies just so that you’ll keep reading. Phillies in five.
Championship Series (Best of Seven)
Yankees over Angels. Who’s more irritating, Joba or A-Roid? Joba is more short-term, in-your-face annoying, while Roid is a more smug, and consistently annoying. Too bad they are on the best team. Carsten Sabathia is an ace, something the Halos don’t have this year. Plus, the Yankees have a better lineup. And bullpen. Hard to see any other outcome here.
Phillies vs. Cardinals: The Cardinals are very good. With apologies to the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, St. Louis starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright were the two best pitchers in the National League this year. Meanwhile, Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton have cooled for the Phils, and Cole Hamels doesn’t seem on the verge of turning in dominant performances to match his 2008 playoffs. And lets face it, the Phillies have a major flaw in their bullpen. Last year Brad Lidge was the best closer in the league, this year he was the worst. It’s not inconceivable that he could “find it” in the next week, but it seems unlikely — this is not just a slump, he has consistently blown all season. Who would you want in an Albert Pujols-Brad Lidge confrontation? Or maybe it will be Madson. Or Myers. Or Happ. Or Pedro. Or Mitch Williams. Whichever, this is a problem the Phillies cannot overcome. Cardinals in six (or fewer).
Cardinals over Yankees. St. Louis wins a deserved championship to go with the fluke nonsense of 2006. Good pitching beats good hitting, and I’ll take Carpenter and Wainwright over Sabathia and Burnett. The Yankees haven’t even made a World Series in the six seasons since A-Roid signed on. I won’t believe he can win one until I see it.