Ben Barr>Freshman> Journalism>University of Maryland
American League Division Series:
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
The Yankees return to the playoffs to defend their 2009 World Series crown and will start the road back to the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Both teams feature powerful lineups and pitching that has fallen off recently, so look for a series with plenty of offense. New York will probably go with a shorter rotation again this year like in 2009 when they used CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett. Burnett has had a forgettable year so Phil Hughes will take his starts in the Yankees’ rotation in this postseason, while the Twins have Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano on their staff. The Twins will miss injured former AL MVP Justin Morneau in this series, although they have performed well without him in the lineup this year. Still, this is a matchup the defending champions should handle as they have in recent years.
Prediction: Yankees in four.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The other ALDS features two very complete teams in Texas and Tampa Bay. Both offenses can light up Arlington and can only be stopped by the catwalks at the Trop in St. Petersburg, however both teams boast great pitching as well. The Rays have an edge in starting pitching and are able to match up AL Cy Young candidate David Price with Rangers ace Cliff Lee. This is going to be a close series decided by which pitching staff is able to hold up against a great offense. If the Rays run into trouble they will be able to have a better rotation going out on short rest than the Rangers will. The Yankees will have to go against their season-long division foe in the ALCS but will be glad to avoid Cliff Lee, who has owned New York in his career and in the playoffs.
Prediction: Rays in five.
National League Division Series:
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds
The two-time defending National League champions will begin their quest to another World Series appearance against the upstart Reds. While Cincinnati boasts NL MVP favorite Joey Votto and a high-powered offense, the team is running into the most deadly top three pitching rotation in the playoffs. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels are going to be tough to solve to win a best-of-five series. The Reds have talented young pitching, but they can’t stand up to the Phillies’ staff.This series has the potential to feature lots of scoring, but not as much as the Texas-Tampa series. The Phillies should be able to handle the Reds with stronger bats and pitching as well as more playoff experience.Prediction: Phillies in four.Atlanta Braves vs. San FranciscoBobby Cox is going to the playoffs in his last year as Braves manager and his team will have to face a tough pitching staff but their offense can be up to the task. On the other side, while San Francisco have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez (three “lights-out” pitchers), their offense can have difficulty scoring runs, enough for Atlanta’s Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson to handle them.San Francisco’s pitching will keep them in any series, but they rely on it too much with a sometimes-anemic offense. Atlanta is a more two-dimensional team with hitting and pitching and has a good bullpen, which will give them the nod in this close series.
Prediction: Braves in five.
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