Thursday, October 15, 2009

MLB Championship Series Preview

The ALCS and NLCS have been set, and I was three-for-four on my picks, missing on just the Cardinals over the Dodgers. The Dodgers are a better baseball team, but I was very surprised that the top of the Cardinals rotation couldn't hold up in a short series. Once Carpenter lost Game 1, that series was over in my book. But as it ended up, the four best teams in baseball remain.

Yankees vs. Angels

The big news heading into this series is the Yankees plan to use a three-man rotation consisting of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. This means Sabathia will pitch Games 1, 4 and 7, throwing Game 4 on three-days rest and Game 7 on four-days rest. Burnett and Pettitte will both be pitching on four-days rest.

This is nothing new for Sabathia, who carried the Brewers to the playoffs last season pitching his final three starts on three-days rest, as well as Game 2 of the division series against the Phillies. He allowed two earned runs in the regular-season starts, but was hit hard for five earned in 3.2 innings in the playoffs.

The Yankees have been using him on regular rest recently so fatigue should not be an issue for a horse like Sabathia, like it may have been in last year's playoffs. The Angels will be using a standard four-man rotation, with John Lackey facing Sabathia in Game 1 followed by Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir.

Both teams have excellent lineups from top to bottom, and the Yankees lack of a fourth starter won't come into play if they go with the three-man rotation. This allows the Yanks to keep Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, where he really does seem more comfortable.

With Chamberlain potentially available for the sixth and seventh innings leading up to Phil Hughes in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth, the Yankees have a significant edge over the Angels in the bullpen. With the lineups and rotations being as even as they are, this slight edge might make the difference in this series for the Yankees. As the old adage goes, bullpen and bench wins in the playoffs. And the Yankees are deeper than the Angels in both those areas.

Prediction: Yankees, 4-3

Dodgers vs. Phillies

The Dodgers are the best team in the National League, in my humble opinion. After what they did to a dangerous short-series team in the NLDS against the Cardinals, I'm convinced they will be a very tough out. While the Phillies have a great lineup and good starting pitching, their bullpen scares me.

Brad Lidge had two saves against the Rockies but struggled with his control, walking two batters in 1.1 innings of work. I'm not convinced he won't blow a game in this series, which could be the difference against a very good Dodgers team.

People may question the Dodgers rotation, but Vicente Padilla has been phenomenal for them over the past month, while Clayton Kershaw was very effective in Game 2 of the NLDS. Even if their rotation falters, the Dodgers' deep bullpen will be an asset all series, as will as a bench that includes Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson, Mark Loretta (who had a walk-off hit in Game 2) and Juan Pierre.

Cliff Lee has been a great pickup for Philadelphia, but beyond him there are question marks in the Phillies' rotation. Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ did not pitch well in the division series, and Pedro Martinez has not pitched in over two weeks. Hitters like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth will keep this series from getting out of hand, but in the end I see Joe Torre and the Dodgers playing his former team in the World Series. What a story that would be.

Prediction: Dodgers, 4-2

No comments:

Post a Comment