Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The theme for the 10 playoffs? Don’t write the dogs off.

Atlanta vs. San Francisco – You can’t really say there is an underdog in this series as these two were caught in the log jam that came down to the final week (game) of the NL season. Although separated by only one game at the end of the season, and with the season series going to the Braves 4-3, the 441 on the Giants has been that if there was one team other than the Phillies that you didn’t want to mess with in the first round it was the SF. Dealing with The Freak twice in one week, Cain, and Sanchez runs the risk of getting one hot pitcher that can end your season. The Braves will try and counter with the craftiness of one Robert Cox, patience, and timely hitting. They game plan is pretty simple, work the work, get the pitch count up, and get into the bullpen. Atlanta was 4th in on base pct. and 14th in runs scored, and they’ll need to get the Giant pitchers in the showers early if they want to move on.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays - If there was an underdog to take in the first round the Rangers would have to be it. They have not been to the playoffs since last century (1999) and their MVP Josh Hamilton is nursing some very sore ribs as the travel to take on the club who has consistently had the best record in baseball most of the season, also have not been outside of the top 10 in the power rankings at any one time during the 27 week season, and won MLB’s toughest division. On the flipside the Rays also have (arguably) their MVP playing hurt as we will have to wait and see how effective Evan Longoria will be. However even if these two cancel out the issue becomes pitching where the Rays have a slight advantage with David Price (19-6, 2.72) and Matt Garza (15 wins, 3.91), but game 2 starter James Shields (13-15) and Wade Davis (12-10) are more than reachable and if Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18) can take game one on the road where the crowd is not known to be a factor then Texas could take this series. Once concern is despite the light crowds the Rangers have lost 10 of their last 12 games at Tropicana Field, including all three this year which will need to be broken if they are to advance but keep in mind the Ranges have the highest average rank of the four tracking categories of runs batting average on base pct. and slugging, and if they could get into the Rays bullpen early, the top seed may fall in this one.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies – If there was one dog that was the toughest to take in the first round it would be the Reds, and not because they backed into the playoffs but because of the way the Phillies stormed in (23-7 over the last 30 games, the best in the League). To make matters worse the short playoff rotation means that the Reds are going to have to beat Roy Halladay a 21-game winner, Roy Oswalt, or Cole Hamels with sizeable playoff experience. Or find themselves facing a substantial deficit. However, is there is one team who has the stick to do just that, it’s the Reds. With an offense that ranks in the top five in Runs, Batting Ave., On Base Pct., and Slugging, don’t expect the Phillies to be taking these games 2-0, but can they get the timely hits in clutch situations that can get them the all important road win that they will need to move on?
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees – In the words of the immortal Yankee Yogi Bera, it’s daja vu all over again as the Twins come back for the second year in a row to try and derail the Yankee express. Last year they were merely a speed bump (swept in 3 games) en route to the Evil Empire hanging another banner. So obviously the first question is what’s going to be different this time around? Well first off, New York is not nearly the dominating pitching machine that they were last year and there are some serious question marks on the depth of their staff after CC Sabathia, particularly how effective will Andy Pettitte be coming back from injury as he is slated to pitch game 2. If the Twins can get a split in Yankee Stadium and head back to the dome 1-1, then other than the obvious reason of stealing home field, force the Yankees to beat the team with the best home record in the AL and 2nd best overall in their house. So if you can manage to ignore the names on the jerseys (the Twins will need to do this as well) you might not be as surprised at the level of play or the outcome. Do you think there will be any upsets in the first round of the LDS? Let us know here and in any of the quick links, also live chat with fans from both teams in our in-game chat rooms.

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