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MLB Playoffs: Each Contender’s Nightmare October Matchup

Posted By Adrian Fedkiw On Sep 3 2011 @ 2:36 pm In MLB | 4 Comments

In every sport, the postseason is about match-ups.

This was exemplified a year ago when the San Francisco Giants pitching staff neutralized the offensive firepower of the Phillies. The Giants beat the Phillies in six and rode their wave of momentum to their first World Series crown in the city of San Francisco.

In this article, I included the teams that would be in the postseason if the season ended today. I also didn’t include potential World Series combatants; you have to get there first.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Please check out another edition of PSB Baseball radio later on today at 6 PM EST. John Morgo (Atl Braves writer) joins me to discuss some topics in the National League.

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Boston Red Sox: Texas Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 25: Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox waits for the pitch from Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers during the game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 25, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)

In my opinion, Boston is the favorite to represent the American League in the World Series, but I can see the Texas Rangers giving the Sox plenty of fits.

Both teams pound the ball.

Boston ranks second in MLB in runs scored, Texas is third. TheRed Sox have the best batting average in baseball, the Rangers are second.  Boston is second in home runs, the Rangers are third.

In terms of pitching, Boston has the better rotation, especially with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett anchoring the top of the staff. Erik Bedard has been fine, he’ll probably be the No. 3 starter while John Lackey has been a disaster. He does have postseason experience.

With the acquisitions of Mike Adams and Koji Uehara at the trading deadline, and lefty Mike Gonzalez before the waiver deadline, the Rangers have a deeper pen.

If the offenses take over, the starters won’t go long, but you’d expect Lester and Beckett to go deep into the games.

Boston will be the favorites in games when Lester and Beckett are on the bump, but when they’re not, I’ll take Texas and their depth in the pen.

If these two meet up in the ALCS or ALDS, it’ll be a lot of fun. I’d take Boston in seven if they meet in the LCS.

New York Yankees: Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 30:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox on August 30, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Entering this past series against the Red Sox, the Yankees had struggled to beat Boston all year long (4-11) and CC Sabathia’s numbers have been horrendous (0-4, 7.20 ERA).

Sabathia won Game 1 and the Yankees took two out of three to instill some confidence in their squad against their bitter rivals.

New York plays Boston in one more three-game set. The Red Sox are looking to match their all-time single season wins mark of 14 against the Bronx Bombers.

If the Yankees want to beat Boston, Sabathia will have to erase past postseason disappointments and set the pace. There’s nothing in their rotation behind him that I’d trust in the postseason.

 

Detroit Tigers: Boston Red Sox

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 16: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitche in the third inning while playing the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on August 16,  2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Detroit could be a huge spoiler with Justin Verlander on the hill, especially in a five-game series.

Anything can happen.

Just to give you some recent examples, the 83-78 St. LouisCardinals won the World Series in 2006. Two years later, the 84-78 LA Dodgers beat the 97-64Chicago Cubs in three games in the NLDS.

The Red Sox are 5-1 against the Tigers this season.

 

Texas Rangers: Boston Red Sox

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers is congratulated by Elvis Andrus #1 for his home hit in the third inning to tie the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 28, 2011 in Ar
The Rangers match up very well against the two top guns of the American League, Boston and New York, due to their offensive firepower and revamped bullpen.

I already touched on the Red Sox and Rangers in my Boston slide. If the Rangers can win some games against Lester and Beckett, they’ll have a legitimate shot at beating them.

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Atlanta Braves

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 31: Hunter Pence #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 31, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
If there’s one team that can pull a giant upset like San Francisco did against Philadelphia last October, it’s the Atlanta Braves. They’re 6-6 against the Phillies this season, and they’ll meet again on Tuesday.

Phillies fans remember the classic 1980 NLCS match-up against theHouston Astros.

The Phillies won a low scoring and tight five-game series 3-2. Three of the games went into extra innings. If these two meet up in the NLCS, I can see a series similar to that one in terms of the games being close and low scoring.

All in all, the Braves are a mini version of the Phillies.

They don’t have the sexy names, but they have starting pitching depth in Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens, power in the middle of the lineup with Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones, and now a prototypical lead-off hitter in Michael Bourn.

The Braves do have a significant advantage in the pen with Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters leading the way; but with the Phillies’ four aces, they’re going to go deep into games. Atlanta will be favored in extra-inning games.

If these two meet in the NLCS, I’d take the Phillies in six, but most Phillies fans thought this last year against the Giants.

 

Atlanta Braves: Milwaukee Brewers

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Catcher Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves follow through on a swing during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on September 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
I’ll go with the Brewers here because if I’m an Atlanta fan, I’d rather play a seven-game series with Philadelphia than a five-game set against Milwaukee due to the Brewers having the home-field advantage. They’re a MLB best 50-19 at home this season.

They are 5-3 against the Brew Crew this season, but these two clubs haven’t squared off since May 6.

Milwaukee’s a completely different squad now. They have a solid rotation with Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf and two behemoths in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

This will be the best of the MLB Division Series.

 

Milwaukee Brewers: Philadelphia Phillies

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 23:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on August 23, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Brewers defeated the Pirates 11-4.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller
I’m really interested to see the four-game series coming up in Milwaukee against Philadelphia this coming Thursday. Let’s see how the Phillies fare in Miller Park, where the Brewers have been so great this year.

Like the Braves, the Brewers have depth in the rotation and a couple big boppers in the middle of the lineup. Their bullpen isn’t too shabby, either.

But just like an Atlanta/Philadelphia NLCS, I’d take the Phillies in six.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Philadelphia Phillies

PHILADELPHIA , PA - AUGUST 18:  Ian Kennedy #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)
They’ve been a great story this year, but beating the Phillies in the NLDS would be a daunting task.

Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are the most underrated one-two punch in baseball; they also don’t have any postseason experience. As for most of the other players, the only experience they have is in the 2007 run where they reached the NLCS.

The Phillies have postseason experience, the Diamondbacks have very little. You’d think the Phillies would sweep or win in four, but like I stated before, anything can happen.

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