NLDS: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
The NLDS will also feature two teams familiar with each other as NL Central foes Pittsburgh and St. Louis will battle it out for the right to go to the NLCS. These teams are essentially polar opposites in terms of recent history. The Pirates earned their first winning season since 1992, snapping the longest drought in professional sports. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are just two years removed from winning the World Series and have two in the last seven years along with another NL pennant in 2004. The Cardinals have one of the best offenses in the game led by Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig. They also feature a pitching staff of Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Lance Lynn. Clint Hurdle has done a masterful job reviving the Pirates behind all-star Andrew McCutcheon and former Yankee A.J. Burnett. Closer Jason Grilli has anchored a solid bullpen as well.
The Pirates won the season series 10-9, so I expect this NLDS to be close as well. Despite the experience of the Cardinals, I think the Pirates have more momentum right now. You can feel the excitement in the team watching them throughout this season. Clint Hurdle was manager of the Rockies when they made their historic run to the World Series in 2007, and I’m getting a similar feel with this team. They are not afraid to play against anyone and love being underdogs. Even though I picked against them in wild card game, I think Pirates upset the Cardinals in five
Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves enter this postseason hoping to break through after disappointment in recent years. In 2011 they blew an enormous wild card lead in September and 2012 they lost the wild card playoff. However, the Braves took the NL East by a mile this year and are ready to move on. Meanwhile, Dodgers had a miserable start to the season, but went on a white-hot stretch to tear through the National League and win the NL West by a mile. A main factor behind the turnaround was rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, who batted over .400 in his first month in the Majors. The Dodgers also have Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw, who has an ERA under 2 on the season. Fellow ace Zack Greinke has also had a great season for the Dodgers. Overall, I think the Dodgers are a more talented team, and now that they have figured out how to translate that into wins, I think they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. I like the Dodgers to win this series in four games.
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