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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MLB Playoffs: Manny v. the Curse; Howard v. Fielder.

I've been wrestling with these MLB picks for almost a week and am pretty much spinning my wheels. It could be a product of the parity, or a measure of my own aversion to the National League; whatever the problem it's about to be resolved. On the eve of the 2008 MLB Playoffs, here are your picks...

The National League

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers

-- how about a round of applause for these two teams! It's a miracle that two clubs with such horrendous starting pitching made it this far. If you've caught a highlight pack in the last month you'll know that Sabathia would win the Cy Young had he played the entire year in the NL (since coming over, 11-2; K/BB- 5.12; ERA-1.65; WHIP -1.00). He is the reason the Brewers are in the playoffs, which is highly commendable and unfortunate. If history has its way, Sabathia's heavy workload will catch up with him and the Brewers will look back on this series knowing he threw too many innings, too frequently to continue at such a savage pace.

A contrast of the bats on either club is a tub of war with the girth and power of Howard balanced by Prince Fielder, the speed and consistency of Utley nearly matched from Ryan Braun and capable shortstops Rollins v. Hardy nearly sawing off one another's contribution. Because the Phillies have a decided edge in overall pitching (starting by a mite, bullpen by a mile) this series will likely end with the Brewers taking a splash and the Phillies taking a shower (in their celebratory bubbly).

Other notable players to watch: Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge (Phillies Ace and lock down closer, respectively), Eric Gagne and Salomon Torres (the gas cans in the Brewers bullpen).

Grading The Edge:
Starters: Phillies B-, Brewers C
Bullpen: Phillies A, Brewers C-
Bats: Phillies A, Brewers A
Winner: Phillies in 4


Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
-- from two of the biggest metropolises on Earth emanates a pair of the most intriguing story lines in baseball: Manny and the Curse.

Man-Ram has stormed LA like an a Mexican who just leapt the fence -- and the Dodgers are loving it. The ball park is his domain and all Manny has done is affirm his dominance of the batters box (since the trade: AB-187; Hits-74; HR-17; RBI-53; AVG.-396; OPS-1.232).

The Cubs are resisting the omnipresent force of their 100-year Championship-less drought. With the guidance of Lou Piniella working the bench and the best starting pitching remaining in the NL (Dempster, Zambrano, Harden, Lilly) they will get themselves one step closer to breaking their unparalleled streak of futility.

Other notable players to watch: Micah Hoffpauir (Cubs rookie with a hot bat), Aramis Ramirez (Cubs offensive MVP), Russell Martin (Dodgers catcher, best-all around players in LA), Jeff Kent and Rafael Furcal (both on the active playoff roster, but injured).

Grading The Edge:
Starters: Cubs A+, Dodgers A
Bullpen: Cubs B+, Dodgers A-
Bats: Cubs A, Dodgers B
Winner: Cubs in 4


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