Monday, April 5, 2010

NL Preview

Baseball is officially back and I couldn't be happier. This will be my last preview and I will run down the NL division champions and my choice for the Wild Card, as well as playoff predictions for both leagues.

NL East Champion: Philadelphia Phillies

The best get better...sort of. The Phillies lost Cliff Lee who dominated the postseason but added Roy Halladay to replace him, which seems like a good trade on paper. Placido Polanco replaces Pedro Feliz at third and J.A. Happ will join the rotation full-time, but other than that there isn't much different about this Phillies squad. They're good enough that it doesn't matter and a bounceback year from Jimmy Rollins will be huge for the Phils.

NL Central Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

Behind stud starting pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals will again be strong at the top of their pitching staff. And with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday raking in the middle of the lineup not to mention Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus (who just homered), their lineup is pretty good too. If Carpenter stays healthy, this is a near lock.

NL West Champion: Colorado Rockies

Love this team this season. Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa seem primed for breakout seasons at the top of the rotation and Jeff Francis returns from injury to give Colorado some pitching depth. Troy Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe provide the power in the middle of the lineup and Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Stewart will look to build on their 2009 seasons. If they do, the Rockies have what it takes to win the division and compete for the NL pennant.

NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

The success of the Dodgers will hinge on the top of their starting rotation, namely Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Kershaw has Cy Young potential and realizing it this season will go a long way to shoring up what many feel is the Dodgers' biggest weakness: their starting rotation. One of the league's best bullpen should help the starters when they don't last deep into games and a lineup featuring Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez can produce runs. The Rockies and Dodgers could be interchangeable at these spots.


Divisional Round:
Phillies over Dodgers, Rockies over Cardinals
Rays over Twins, Yankees over Mariners

Championship Series:
Phillies over Rockies, Yankees over Rays

World Series:
Yankees over Phillies

Yes, I chose a repeat of last year's World Series with the same champion. Call me boring, but I think the Yankees and Phillies are hands down the best teams in baseball this season. But with all the luck involved in the long baseball season, this outcome could easily change. Here's a darkhorse scenario:

Rockies over Rays

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