Divisional Series Predictions
The dust has finally settled, and the playoffs have been seeded. Without further ado, the Balls, Sticks, & Stuff Official Divisional Series Predictions:
Minnesota Twins - New York Yankees
Prediction: Twins win in 5 games.
The Logic: The conventional wisdom for most of the season has been that the Yankees do not have the starting pitching to get them deep into the playoffs. Just as there is often a reason stereotypes are true, there are often reasons why conventional wisdom is right, and the Yankees simply do not have the pitching to get by the Twins. However I do think it will be a close series because the Yankees do know how to win and will therefore make it close, but in the end, the Twins will prevail.
Best Reason to Watch: Johan Santana has been on a tear in the second half of the season, setting a Twins record for most strikeouts in a season averaging 10.46 K's per 9 IP.
Boston Red Sox - Anaheim Angels
Prediction: Red Sox win in 5 games.
The Logic: Again, it comes down to starting pitching. Curt Schilling is a Cy Young favorite and a big-game pitcher. As is Pedro Martinez. The Angels on the other hand have a pitching staff that has been up and down all year and the Red Sox can flat out rake. Another point to consider is that the Angels are coming off an extremely tight division race with the A's and may find it difficult to focus after such an emotional high. The only reason I think this will go 5 games is that the Red Sox always find a way to make a series tighter than it should be.
Best Reason to Watch: Tim Wakefield pitching against Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad the Impaler has never seen a pitch he doesn't like and Wakefield's knuckleball will probably look like a floating beachball to him. If Wakefield's knuckleball is "on" when they face off, we could see some crazy swings with unpredictable results. Good stuff.
Los Angeles Dodgers - St. Louis Cardinals
Prediction: Cards in 4.
The Logic: The old adage is that good pitching beats good hitting, but in this case it is going to be great hitting beating decent pitching. The Dodgers staff has a 5.09 ERA against St. Louis this year.
Best Reason to Watch: Sit back and admire the balanced hitting, pitching, and defense the Cardinals bring to the table. It's hard to find a weakness on this team.
Houston Astros - Atlanta Braves
Prediction: Braves in 4.
The Logic: I considered leaving this prediction to a coin flip. This series pretty evenly matched, and the two teams are similar in that both were considered to be non-contenders at one point or another during the season, both have good but not great lineups, and both have great closers that are supported by good starters and mediocre set-up men. In the end I settle on the Braves because Bobby Cox has the Braves playing as a team, the Astros could suffer a similar emotional let down to the one I predicted above for the Angels, and the Braves have had the Astros number in several recent playoff series.
Best Reason to Watch: It may not be the best reason to watch, but the matchup between the slightly old Roger Clemens and the definitely old Julio Franco should be quite interesting. Clemens loves to come inside on batters and Franco almost exclusively tries to hit pitches to right field.