Philadelphia Phillies v. Colorado Rockies
This series seems like it's easy to pick, but does anyone remember last time the Rockies played October baseball? They won a ridiculous amount of games in a ridiculously short period of time, and made a run all the way to the World Series as one of the seemingly less talented teams in the playoffs. That being said, the last time the Phillies played October baseball they won the World Series, and have shown they can win in big spots. In a best-of-five series, your only as good as your top 3 pitchers, and the Phillies undoubtedly have the Rockies beat in that category. Philadelphia is coming into the series looking at a Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton rotation, while the Rockies combat that with Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis and Aaron Cook. I give the Phillies a pretty big edge in that department, and with Jorge Del a Rosa not on the series roster, and the Phillies sporting A.J. Happ and Pedro Martinez in case they need a fourth starter, the edge at pitching talent and depth has to go to the Phillies. The same has to be said about the lineups, as the Phillies sport probably the best 1-2-3 punch of any team in the National League, and I just don't think that Colorado stacks up with them bat for bat.
Maybe the Rockies take one at Coors Field, but I can't see them competing very seriously in a series against the defending champs. I look for Lee and Hamels to pitch well, and jump to an early two game lead. Philadelphia take it, 3-1.
St. Louis Cardinals v. Los Angeles Dodgers
I've changed my mind on this series day-in and day-out ever since it became apparent that it was going to happen. St. Louis have by far the best rotation, probably of any team in the playoffs, with two Cy Young caliber pitchers taking the mound for games one and two [Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright], with the underrated Joel Pineiro taking the mound for game 3. This staff is drastically better then the one the Dodgers will bring, as they have no real ace or proven playoff performers to start games for them. As a matter of fact, the Dodgers aren't even sure who their third starter will be after Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw, with names like Chad Billingsley, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla being thrown around for that spot. However, the Dodgers do sport a better lineup, top to bottom with names like Manny Ramirez, Andre Either, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin making the better part of their lineup. There is no doubt the Cards field the best hitter in the series, with Albert Pujols, but after him and Matt Holliday it's quite a drop off.
One thing that will be lost in the this series is that it will have two of the great baseball minds going at it in Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa, and should be one of the tightest of these playoffs. I think it will be very tough for the Dodgers to take 3 away from the Cards, with at least three games being started by either Wainwright or Carpenter. In one of the most exciting series' we've seen from the National League in a while, the Cardinals move on, taking the series 3-2.
New York Yankees v. Minnesota Twins
It was a nice story, what the Twins did to even get to the playoffs, but I really don't think they are going to see much more success this October. The Yankees are a team clearly built to make a run. They, in my opinion, the scariest lineup in the Majors by far, and should have no problem putting up any runs regardless of who they are playing. They also have a nice set-up in the rotation, coming into the series with C.C. Sabatthia and A.J. Burnett, and have probably the best playoff reliever we've seen in our generation. The Twins are just not as built to make a run like the Yanks are. They've got Joe Mauer and a couple nice stories in guys like Jason Kubel, but that should not be enough for them to take a best-of-five series from the Bronx Bombers. The Twins reply to that solid rotation with the likes of Brian Duensang, Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker, and they sure aren't scaring the likes of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeria or Alex Rodriguez. Ohh, and speaking of A-Rod, with the help he's got around him this October, will really show that he deserves that championship many think he can't win
I see this series being about as lopsided as it gets. I think the Yankees show why they should be considered the favorite coming into these playoffs, and really give it to the Twins. It was a good run, but I don't see them recording even another win, Yankees take it 3-0.
Los Angeles Angels v. Boston Red Sox
This series, in my opinion, is the hardest to judge. No one can argue that both these teams are legitimate contenders to play in the World Series, and this series should prove that. Also, I don't care how the Red Sox finished the season. They are still the Red Sox, and how they finished off a season that they knew was going to end in a Wild Card berth means very little to me. Anyways, they both have starting pitching, with the Red Sox tossing Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and a slightly banged up Josh Beckett, and the Angels replying with John Lackey, and need to pick two from Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, John Saunders and Ervin Santana. The lineups are just as even, with the Angels sporting that unbelievable team average, and the Red Sox with that lineup that has proven again and again what they are capable of in big games. I expect Terry Francona and Mike Scocchia to pull all the stops in this series, and those little decisions could very well be the difference in what should be a classic.
This series should, and will come down to the wire, and it is almost too tough to call. They have both won in the playoffs recently, and both have the lineup, rotation and bullpen to make a nice run. The key I think will be the Angels ability to win at home. The Red Sox won second most games of any team at home, and have been one of the hardest teams to beat in their own park. If the Angels lose even one game at home, I think they might be in trouble. It was tough, but I'll take the Red Sox, 3-2.