So in my previous playoff preview I went 1-1 with the wild card games (2-1 counting the play in game), and now the matchups are set for the next round. Without further ado, my preview and predictions for American and National League Division Series.
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox meet in the postseason for the second in time in MLB history. Back in 2008, the AL East champion Rays battled the defending World Series Champion Red Sox in an epic seven game ALCS that saw the Red Sox erase a seven run Game 5 deficit but the Rays hold on to eventually win Game 7 at home and advance to their first World Series. This time it’s the AL East champion Red Sox taking on the Rays in the ALDS, and it should be one heck of a matchup. Both teams have a lot of playoff experience, are very familiar with each other being in the same division, great coaching, quality and depth at starting pitchers, and star players on the offensive and defensive end.
The Red Sox haven’t won a postseason game since 2008, but they have several experienced veterans with playoff and world series experience. Meanwhile, the Rays have lost most of their starting pitchers from the 2008 team (Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir, James Shields) but have had no trouble replacing them with young talent in the form of David Price, Alex Cobb, and Matt Moore. The Red Sox also won the season series against Tampa Bay this season. In the end, I think Boston’s starting rotation of Lester, Lackey, Buccholz, and Peavy, with Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and Koji Uehara coming out of the bullpen, will give the Red Sox the advantage in this series against a Tampa Bay offense that is just not as talented as the Red Sox. Boston wins in four games.
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics
These two teams will meet in the ALDS for the second straight year, with the Tigers taking last year’s series en route to the American League Pennant. Both of them have also experienced recent success, with Detroit winning its third straight AL Central title and Oakland taking the West for the second straight year. The Tigers are led by MVP Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on the offensive end, while their rotation features 21 game winner Max Scherzer, 2011 AL Cy Young Justin Verlander, and the American League ERA leader Anibal Sanchez. Oakland’s pitching staff has been dominant throughout the season, led by veteran Bartolo Colon and young pitchers like Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Third baseman Josh Donaldson has been a big surprise this season on the offensive end as well. I think the key to series is whether or not Oakland can generate enough on the offensive end against Detroit’s starting pitching staff. Oakland just doesn’t have a Miguel Cabrera in their lineup, and I think ultimately the Tigers will sweep this series.
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