Keys to the Playoffs

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The 162-game regular season is over. Players from 24 teams
are dusting off their golf clubs while the remaining eight clubs lie only 11
wins away from World Series glory.

 

National League: Atlanta
Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

 

The Giants made the playoffs by having arguably the best
month of starting pitching in the history of baseball, with an ERA under 1.80
for September. If they can keep up anything like that kind of form then the
Braves, without key hitters Martin Prado and Chipper Jones through injury, will
struggle to score runs. But with neither team being offensive powerhouses this
could go either way.

 

Braves’ manager Bobby Cox is one of the best of all-time,
but if you check his postseason record since 2000 it does nothing to give
Braves fans confidence – six trips to the postseason but no appearances in the
World Series.

 

Prediction: Giants in
5

 

National League: Cincinnati
Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

 

The Phillies had the major leagues best record, they have
the best playoff starting rotation of all eight teams and they have a powerful
– if streaky – lineup that finally has everyone back after a slew of injuries.
The Reds limped into the postseason, they have the weakest starting rotation in
the playoffs and they have a bunch of players who’ve never tasted anything
resembling the insanity of a playoff game atmosphere in Philadelphia.

 

On the other hand, they have soon-to-be MVP Joey Votto and
the 105mph fireballing lefthander Aroldis Chapman waiting in the bullpen.
However if the Phillies start hitting early, what little belief the Reds
players have, may evaporate.

 

Prediction: Phillies
in 3

 

American League:
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

 

The Twins always lose to the Yankees. In the regular season,
in the postseason, it doesn’t matter – they just can’t get it done. Neither
team have lights-out starting pitching outside of the Yankees no.1 CC Sabathia,
so there could be plenty of runs in this series. Derek Jeter has had a down
year but hit around .350 for the last three weeks of the regular season,
setting him up nicely to pad out that ‘Mr. October’ legend of his.

 

However, as things stand this Yankees team – outside of MVP
candidate Robinson Cano – is significantly weaker than last year’s edition.
With the addition of Jim Thome an despite Justin Morneau’s absence, this may be
the Twins’ best chance in recent years of getting past their nemesis.

 

However, predicting anything other than a Yankees win is to
ignore history, precedent, experience, mojo…and common sense.

 

So I’m going with the Twins…

 

Prediction: Twins in 5

 

American League:
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

 

As I write this, Bengie Molina of the Rangers has just hit a
home run for a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning of game one. Which makes a mess of
my idea that the Rays’ pitching ace David Price could be the key player in my
predicted Tampa Bay win.

 

So I’ll shamelessly bale out and say that the Rangers’ ace
Cliff Lee (7 strikouts through 4 innings so far) will edge it for the Rangers,
along with the Rays’ inability to string hits together (their regular season
batting average of .247 is comfortably the worst of all the playoff teams).

 

Prediction: Rangers in
4

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