It comes but once a year, and it is finally here. It is October.
And October means one thing: the MLB playoffs... and they are ready to begin. On the last day of September the playoff picture got taken. And it is a weird one, with some great story lines.
The story lines to end the season were great as well. The Chicago White Sox needed to win game number 162, win a make up game against the Detroit Tigers, and then win a playoff against the Minnesota Twins, and got it.
Then you have the New York Mets' collapse, again.
But the teams in the playoffs have even better story lines.
The Chicago Cubs are trying to turn around 100 years of losing.
The Milwaukee Brewers are the in the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
The Philadelphia Phillies are looking for their first playoff series win since 1993.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in the playoffs for the first time ever.
The Boston Red Sox are on the brink of a becoming a dynasty.
The Los Angeles Angels are the best team in the league.
So on to the match ups and predictions.
In the National League:
Rafael Furcal is back for the Dodgers and that could hurt them or help them. The Dodgers really only have one bat, and they are not even paying for him. Manny Ramirez has the big bat for the Dodgers and no one else really can swing for the fences. Casey Blake has made minor contributions as have Russell Martin and James Loney. But Manny has put this team on his back since he has been in town.
The Cubs really out match the Dodgers in the pitching battle. Their rotation is just too deep. Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, and Ted Lilly headline the rotation. While the bullpen has been strong with Kerry Wood reviving his career as a closer, Bob Howry is looking strong and Carlos Marmol has returned to form.
Prediction: Cubs over Dodgers in 4 games.
The Brewers limp into this series without Ben Sheets, but the Phillies may be without Pat Burrell. That being said, the Brewers have the Sabathia and Prince Fielder. That seems like all they will need. The Phillies have some guys who will make a difference as well. Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins have carried this team for the past year or so. Even with his struggles Howard has made major contributions to the Phillies. Chase Utley, Joe Blanton, and Brad Lidge will all make major contributions to this team in this series.
The Brewers don't have a lack of talent either. J.J. Hardy and Ryan Braun are possibly the biggest names on offense. Even without Ben Sheets, the Brewers have a decent rotation. Yovani Gallardo is back from a knee injury, Jeff Suppan can pitch well, and the bullpen has a few good arms. The one that may hurt them is Eric Gagne.
Lots of close games here.
Prediction: Phillies grind out a sweep.
Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are the upstart "where the hell did they come from?" team, while the White Sox barely made the playoffs. The Rays have been sitting around getting ready for the games setting the rotation up and getting everyone healthy. They will have Carl Crawford back in the lineup and that is a huge boost for them.
The White Sox have been pushing their pitchers out on 3 days rest for the last week or so, that is going to back fire on them now.
Prediction: The Rays over the White Sox in 5 games.
==Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim The Angels owned the Sox this season, going 8-1 against them. However, the Red Sox beat the Angels in the playoffs in 2004 and 2007 and both years went on to win the World Series.
The BoSox also have to worry about injuries to J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell and they no longer have a guy named Manny... maybe you've heard of him. He was the 2004 World Series MVP and now he is crushing the ball while wearing Dodger blue. The Sox have the pitching and can have the bats if everyone stays healthy. And the Angels have the bats and have potential to have the pitching.
Prediction: Red Sox over the Angels in 5. (Extra innings1?! Can you say Big Papi?)
for more www.sammonroe.net