|Photo courtesy of the Washington Post|
Before the year, I made some good calls, such as the Royals making the playoffs, even though I went all out and took them to win their division. I also made some horrendous calls, such as picking the Rays to win the AL Pennant, as well as having the Red Sox and Rangers in the playoffs, but I wasn't alone.
But enough about the past. There are 10 teams still alive, and it all starts tonight with the AL Wild Card game. To get you all set for the playoffs, here are my thoughts on what will happen.
5 Giants over Pirates. To me, when it comes down to choosing who will win one of these Wild Card games, I always have to back the team with the better starting pitcher. As good as Edinson Volquez has been all year, and recently, he's still Eddy Volquez. Somewhere within the ace that has reappeared this season is the guy who had a 4.94 ERA between 2009 and 2013, including a whopping 5.71 ERA last year. There's cause for concern with him.
There is no cause for concern with Madison Bumgarner.
5 Athletics over 4 Royals. Once again, pitching is the deciding factor for me. James Shields has been great, but Jon Lester has been better. So yes, I'm taking both road teams in the Wild Card round. The bigger problem is that I have no clue who to root for. I want my boy Billy Beane to advance, but at the same time, the Royals are in the playoffs. How can you not root for that? This is the first time since 12 years before I was born.
1 Nationals vs. 5 Giants. The Nationals' worst starting pitcher is Gio Gonzalez, who sports an abysmal 3.57 ERA.
Yeah. Nationals in 4.
2 Dodgers vs. 3 Cardinals. I came into this article expecting to continue my trend of rolling with the Cardinals no matter what, but I feel a lot better about the Dodgers in this series. St. Louis would have an advantage in Game 1 over any other team in the NL, but Clayton Kershaw isn't of this species. Past that, the Dodgers have more reliable pitching, as well as a more explosive offense. It should be a tightly contested series, but the Dodgers should come out with the win. Dodgers in 5.
1 Angels vs. 5 Athletics. Matt Shoemaker is still a question mark for Los Angeles, which could be a huge issue. If he's unable to pitch in this series, the Angels will be outmatched in the pitching department in every game of this series. That still might be the case even if he were to roll out to the mound for Game 3. Because of the heightened importance of pitching during the playoffs, and because I think that Oakland will be able to piece together just enough offense to scrape by, I'm taking the upset over the best team in baseball.
Don't worry Mike MVP Trout, I still love you. Athletics in 5.
2 Orioles vs. 3 Tigers. Statistically, each team's pitching staff is pretty much equal, but I trust the Tigers' rotation more. Also, Detroit has a slight offensive advantage. Tigers in 4.
1 Nationals vs. 2 Dodgers. The 2014 Nationals are my new Cardinals. By that I mean, "this team is so good that they are going to rip through the National League like nobody's business."
Sorry Kershaw. Nationals in 6.
3 Tigers vs. 5 Athletics. The trade deadline arms race between these two teams will pay off in this series. In the end, the pitching will be just about equal. However, led by the Martinez boys (J.D. and Victor), and Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's offense has the clear advantage. Tigers in 6.
1 Nationals vs. 3 Tigers. There are no star offensive players on the Nationals, but everyone is good. All everyday players have an OPS of .700 or above, with the exceptions of Asdrubal Cabrera (.694, .700 with Washington), and Wilson Ramos (.698). As a unit, they have potential for huge games, but they aren't the explosive force that the Tigers can be throughout the playoffs.
But, they have a better rotation, and their bullpen is more reliable then Detroit's, especially if Joe Nathan is still running out there in the ninth inning.
Cue up the tears of Expos fans.
Nationals in 7.