Saturday, October 6, 2012

2012 Baseball Playoff Preview - Division Series

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-Digger's Weekly-

Sloppy was the operative word in Wild Card playoffs. Seven errors committed in do or die games. Chipper Jones final game did not play out well. One of baseball's all time greats suffered through one of his worst against the defending champion Cardinals.

Now it's time for the Divisional Series. I'm really against how best record teams are visitors in the first two games in a best of five. Ridiculous! This is clearly a home field disadvantage! This should be a 2-2-1 format. How could MLB get this so wrong? MLB claims they'll get it right next year. Yeah, thanks.

Thrilling matchups await. Red hot Oakland (vs Detroit) and Baltimore (vs New York) set out to prove their seasons are not flukes. Nationals go after champion Cardinals while the Reds take on San Francisco. Get ready for plenty of excitement.

American League

Oakland A's (94-68) vs Detroit Tigers (88-74)
1) Jarred Parker (13-8, 3.47) vs Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64) Edge Tigers
2) Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74) vs Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45) Edge A's
3) Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57) vs Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.74) Edge Even
4) A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06) vs Max Scherzer(16-7, 3.74) Edge Even.

Oakland is red hot and in playoff baseball this is a very significant factor. Hot or not, beating Justin Verlander twice in a short series is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the A's are 57-26 in their past 83 contests. They've won 6 in a row and 8 of 9. Timely hitting is leading the way. Oakland is riding a wave. For how long?
AL Central champion Detroit sports a fearsome 3-4 punch of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The Tigers attack is capable of big outbursts. However, except for Miguel & Prince, they're a streaky bunch.

Prediction: A's in 4

New York Yankees (95-67) vs Baltimore Orioles (93-69)
How far can the Orioles go. There's no way I believed Saunders (0-6 in Arlington) was going to shut down the mighty Rangers attack last night. He proved me wrong. Will Baltimore stun me once again?

These two split their season series 9-9 and were tied for the AL East lead after 159 games.
Rotation matchups haven't been announced other than CC Sabathia starting Game 1 for New York. Edge Yankees. Most likely Kuroda takes the mound in Game 2 giving NY another advantage in the starting pitcher category.

This has the potential to become an explosive high run scoring series. Both play in hitters parks and pack plenty of lineup power. On paper, Yankees probably hold an advantage. In reality, Baltimore's timely hitting has been second to none lately. Orioles bullpen nearly unhittable. Yanks bullpen prone to gaffes.

Prediction: As a New Yorker, I'm saying Yankees in 5. Reality is telling me Baltimore in 4. We'll soon find out.

National League
Cincinnati Reds (97-65) vs San Francisco Giants(94-68)
1) Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78) vs Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79) Edge Even
2) Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 3.74) vs Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37) Edge Even
3) Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48) vs Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18) Edge Reds

No room for mistakes on defense. None. Timely hitting will be the difference in wins vs losses. A single run could determine games against top rated pitching. Cueto vs Cain is championship calibur matchup.

Prediction: Both teams playing well of late. Cincinnati is my sentimental pick. Had this series opened in Cincy, I'd say Reds hands down. Don't count out the Giants. Reds in 4.

Washington Nationals (98-64) vs St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
This is about the time when everyone scratches their heads and screams at Washington's front office for keeping their best hurler intentionally shelved. This could haunt them for years to come.

1) Gio Gonzalex (21-8, 2.89) vs Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94) Edge Nats
2) Jordan Zimmerman (12-8, 2.94) vs Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92) Edge Nats
Nationals yet to name starters for games 3 & 4. Cards intend to send Cris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse.

Washington need to play top notch baseball against a Cardinals team which seems to find ways to win when all hope seems gone. St. Louis played from behind in much of the 2011 post-season. Never count these guys out.

Washington's spirited attack has all essentials to knock off the defending champs... except one. No experienced big game players on this youthful roster and their most devastating pitcher isn't playing. Cardinals always seem to find a way in playoff baseball.

Prediction: Cardinals in 5.

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