There are two teams that won't be in these playoffs that every expert I know had picked to be there: the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves. The fact that neither team made the postseason has made these predictions much harder, because if they had made it I don't think either could have survived the Divisional round. They were both depleted in their pitching staffs due to injury.
Let's start with the American League.
Rangers vs. Rays
I believe the Rangers are one of the top three most balanced teams in the postseason. They have a solid rotation, a solid defense, an explosive offense and a good bullpen. They also have depth on their bench.
The Rays have solid starting pitching -- some would say the deepest. The thing that I think will hurt the Rays is the fact that they have two left-handed starters in David Price and Matt Moore.
Price won't be available before Game 3, and even then he will be coming off a critical game vs. the Yankees where he was pounded for six runs. He has had a very subpar year.
Moore will be making his fourth career big league appearance in Game 1. If the Rays can't give him an early lead to allow him to relax and let his very good stuff work, I think the pressure of a game of this magnitude will be too much for the 22 year old to handle.
I am taking the Rangers to win it in four games.
Yankees vs. Tigers
I think Game 1 of this series is absolutely huge for the Yankees. If CC Sabathia can beat Justin Verlander, then Ivan Nova will take the ball in Game 2 knowing that they already have a one-game lead, and that will take pressure off of him. If Verlander wins, then Doug Fister, who has gone 8-1 with the Tigers, will give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the series.
I am taking Detroit in this series, in four games, because I believe the Yankees offense will put up a huge number in Game 3 but then they will be back to Verlander. I just don't see the Yankees having enough pitching to beat Detroit.
Phillies vs. Cardinals
I think Philly will beat St. Louis in four games.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has pushed all the right buttons to get his team into the postseason, but the depth and ability of the Phillies' rotation will be too much for them to overcome.
Brewers vs. D-backs
I go back to the importance of balance in this series. The Brewers are very balanced, top to bottom. They have a potent lineup, good starting pitching and a very good bullpen.
The D-backs are the feel-good story of the year, and I think Kirk Gibson should win the National League Manager of the Year Award. But, I think this team might be a little too young and inexperienced to win this series.
Arizona has some great players on this team, and a starting pitcher in Ian Kennedy who will be strongly considered for the NL Cy Young Award. I just don't think they have the starting pitching depth that can shut down the Brewers' offense: Milwaukee in four games.
Next week, we will check in to see how my picks turned out and make new predictions for the League Championship Series.