Baseball’s post-season is officially underway and now that the wild card winners have been decided, I can get down to some serious playoff predictions. Predicting the winners in a 162 game schedule is part science and part alchemy; predicting the winners in a five or seven game series is 80% luck, and predicting the winner of a single play-in game is 95% luck. (For the record, I had KC and Pittsburgh, by the way.) If you re-read my predictions from March 30, you’ll see that I didn’t do too badly, predicting five out of six division winners and nine out of ten playoff teams. I hope the alchemy and the 80% luck holds:
Detroit versus Baltimore—Neither team played particularly well the last two weeks, but the Orioles could afford to rest and recover as they had already clinched the Eastern Division flag. For the third year in a row, the Tigers have under-performed during the regular season. This series is a dilemma because Baltimore is the better team, but I have trouble envisioning the combination of Justin Verlander, Max Sherzer, Rick Porcello, and David Price losing three times in five tries.
The Orioles will win if the starters can hand off a close game to the Bird bullpen and if the big bats can get a crack at the Tigers’ bullpen. The Orioles have to get some kind of production out of catcher, second, and third of which there has been precious little in September.
The Tigers will win if the starters pitch deep into the games and Miguel Cabrera remains as hot as he’s been in September.
Prediction: The Orioles, but I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed. No outcome in this series would surprise me, but I suspect that the Orioles’ defense will save a run or two while the Tigers defense will give up a run or two and that just might be the difference.
Kansas City versus Los Angeles—The Royals are probably the weakest team in the field, but the Angels may have peaked too soon even if they did go 15-11 in September.
The Royals will win if their hitters pass the baton and they keep the base paths a merry-go-round of Royals. Like the Orioles, if KC can hand a close game to its bullpen, it has more than a chance.
The Angels will win if they simply bludgeon KC into submission and they get solid performances from their starters. Jered Weaver can’t start three times.
AL Champions: Baltimore, who beat Los Angeles four out of six times this season.
Los Angeles versus St. Louis—The Dodgers are a better team, but they can be inconsistent. Talented, but enigmatic outfielder Yasiel Puig could single-handedly win the series for Los Angeles or commit a series of boneheaded plays that cost his team a chance to advance.
The Dodgers will win if Kershaw and Greinke pitch the way their capable and the supporting cast does its part.
St. Louis will win if Matt Holliday catches fire and Adam Wainwright can outduel Clayton Kershaw in the first game. It could happen.
Washington versus San Francisco—The Nationals are the better team; in fact, they are the best team in the National League, but San Francisco is better perhaps than their 88-74 record indicates.
Washington will win if they get the starting pitching that everyone expects them to get and their hitters take what’s given and don’t try to hit six-run homers, especially if the Nats fall behind.
San Francisco will win if Jake Peavy, along with the middle of the Giants lineup have stellar series.
NL Championship Series: Nationals
And the World Champion is Baltimore! C’mon, do you think I would pick against them if they get this far?!