October has finally arrived. That means scary movies start rolling on AMC, pumpkins undergo makeovers, and sportswriters make playoff predictions for the 2013 MLB postseason. So grab a glass of your favorite cider or seasonal beer and let’s see if we can hash out some MLB postseason predictions.
Pittsburgh v. Cincinnati: The game will be held in Pittsburgh, which is seeing its first playoff baseball game in 21 years. Winning this game comes down to one thing: Cueto v. Liriano.
Francisco Liriano, the Pirate’s resurrected star is 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA this year at PNC Park. His antagonist Johnny Cueto has made a living in PNC Park with a career 8-2 record and a 1.90 ERA. Whoever gets deeper into the game gets the win.
Result: Liriano gets late into the seventh and the Pirates’ darling run lives another day. Pirates win 3-1.
Cleveland v. Tampa Bay: Madden v. Francona is a battle of baseball brains. The Tribe went 21-6 in September and being hot at this time of year means a lot. But they are throwing a rookie in Danny Salazar against Tampa’s Alex Cobb who used September to go 3-0, 2.57 ERA. Madden v. Francona may very well be a push, so I’m giving experience the nod here.
Result: Madden v. Francona will wind up a stalemate, which means it falls to Cobb v. Salazar. Advantage Cobb. Tampa wins 6-3.
LA Dodgers v. Atlanta: This is by far the most anticipated series of the postseason. The Dodgers, who ran away from the NL West thanks to Don Mattingly’s patience, Yasiel Puig’s explosion, and Clayton Kershaw’s dominance, go up against the revived Braves. Atlanta cruised to a division title and will need Freddie Freeman to outplay Adrian Gonzalez and Jayson Heyward to outplay Yasiel Puig. This series goes five games.
Result: LA wins every time Kershaw starts, which is only two games. Freeman, Heyward, and the Upton’s produce and Atlanta wins in five.
St. Louis v. Pittsburgh: I can’t think of a more consistent team the past decade than the St. Louis Cardinals; the quiet, blue-collar boys who take care of business under the Gateway Arch. All they seem to do is win. The Pirates were one of the few teams that gave St. Louis trouble this season. Can Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez stay hot? Pittsburgh won’t roll over, but St. Louis’ rotation is too tough.
Result: St. Louis pitching sinks Pirates’ offense. St. Louis wins in four.
Oakland v. Detroit: On paper, you’d be crazy to pick against Detroit. A roster that boasts a Triple Crown Winner and arguably one of the best hitters in history in Miguel Cabrera, a former Cy Young Winner in Justin Verlander, and this year’s likely Cy Young winner for the American League, Max Scherzer, the Tigers are a heavy favorite. Oakland has one of the most complete 25-man rosters in baseball and when October rolls around, there is always an unlikely hero. Look for one to blossom in Oakland.
Result: Tigers play flat, Oakland chases dominant starters early. A’s in five.
Boston v. Tampa Bay: The Red Sox are a far cry from the year of Bobby V. The bearded bunch have ceased to really slow at all this season. A season sparked by the birth of Boston Strong, Fenway has seen the revival of David Ortiz. Boston’s elite offense will square off with Tampa’s elite pitching. Boston is going to score runs, which means Evan Longoria will need help to keep Tampa in the games. The burden falls to James Loney and Ben Zobrist.
Result: Boston’s offense overwhelms Rays pitching. Red Sox in four.
St. Louis v. Atlanta. In what will be one of the best NL Championships in recent memory, these two powerhouses will square off. Atlanta will come in off an emotionally exhausting upset over the Dodgers, while St. Louis will have cruised past Pittsburgh. Ask whether you prefer coming in hot or getting a few days extra rest and you have differing opinions. Atlanta and St. Louis are in the top five of the NL’s total offensive and pitching stats. This series comes down to the unexpected hero clause.
Result: Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman headlines much like David Freese did for St. Louis in 2011. Atlanta wins in six.
Boston v. Oakland: A cross country matchup that boasts two of the biggest home field advantages in baseball. The A’s who haven’t been to the World Series since 1990 have not been able to get past the League Championship series in two attempts since then. The Red Sox haven’t been to the World Series since their sweep of the Rockies in 2007. The difference lies in the experience of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Shane Victorino.
Result: Experience stills means something. Red Sox in six.
Boston v. Atlanta. A clash between two of the biggest fan bases in baseball. The Red Sox, scruffy, scrappy, and experienced go up against the Braves and their young potent lineup.
Both rosters boast plenty of talent. Ortiz, Pedroia, the Uptons, Heyward and the big names aside, this series will come down to the “other guys.” Look for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Brian McCann factoring into the outcome of games from behind the plate. The battle between Freddie Freeman and Mike Napoli will also be a barometer as to which way the series tilts. At the end of the day, there’s too much Boston Strong and Red Sox Nation for young Braves to handle.
Result: Red Sox in six.