League Championship Series Predictions
With the League Championship Series about to kick off tonight in the National League, and the Sox and Tigers set to start tomorrow, our sportswriters teamed up to contribute their predictions for both series. See who our writers have facing off in the Fall Classic
Ricky Morin: St. Louis in 6 – It took five games, but the Cardinals busted the dream season of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Los Angeles used their ace Clayton Kershaw twice in a four game set with Atlanta, and while it’s hard to say that Kershaw could lose effectiveness, he is after all still a human being. St. Louis did not dominate their series by any means; however, the Dodgers were clearly better than their counterparts—but if Don Mattingly uses Kershaw as recklessly as he’s been doing, the Cardinals could steal a game from him. This will be a low-scoring series that will come down to clutch pitching. And, as we saw from Adam Wainwright in Game 5 of the NLDS, St. Louis has no problem with that.
Cheyenne Baker: Dodgers in 6 – This series is going to be a good one. The Dodgers are a team made up of many big name players who are relentless and want this. The Cardinals have the playoff experience and this will be their eighth appearance in the NLCS since 2000. Both teams need their starting rotation to shine, especially the Cardinals. With the stacked line up that the Dodgers have, including ex Red Sox players Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford, they all need to be on point. However, I feel the Cardinals still won’t have quite enough to get past the Dodgers. They are coming off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS and have had the most rest out any of the remaining four teams. I think this all-star team has way too much momentum to be stopped. I predict the Los Angeles Dodgers will be headed to the World Series.
Katie Martineau: Dodgers in 7 – The Cardinals and Dodgers have both shown at some point during the season that they are capable of being the best team in baseball. Both teams are filled with stars and have the offense and pitching to take them to the World Series. The Dodgers will feature Zack Geinke and Clayton Kershaw as their one-two punch in the rotation, and have an offense that knows how to produce runs. The Cardinals also have a strong rotation, but their offense has not done particularly well in the post-season thus far. Whichever team has the better pitching will come out on top.
Eric Russo: Dodgers in 6: This should be one heck of a series. These two storied franchises have had incredible seasons and were on a collision course to meet for a spot in the Fall Classic. Now it’s happening. Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw start Games 1 and 2, while St. Louis counters with Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha. Wacha has been nearly unhittable since his debut in September, but Adam Wainwright doesn’t see the hill until Game 3. By then, the Dodgers may be in control.
Mike McMahon: Cardinals in 5 – The Dodgers have all the names, all the flash, all the money and they have the greatest left-handed pitcher since Randy Johnson, maybe even Sandy Koufax in Clayton Kershaw. On the other side, the Cardinals play baseball the way it is supposed to be, they are the opposite of flash. Not having RBI machine Allen Craig should not be too big a concern, because Matt Adams is… huge, the guy was a monster off the bench all year and he showed his power in the NLDS. The Cardinals also have a plethora of young, raw arms in the rotation and bullpen. The Dodgers pitching staff will not have the same success they had against the swing and miss Braves with the Cardinals, who can small ball with the best of them.
Make sure to check out DJ Rallo’s in-depth NLCS preview here
DJ Rallo: Tigers in 6 – In the battle of the American League behemoths, the series could truly go either way. However, I do worry about the Red Sox’ consistency at the plate and in the bullpen. In his past two appearances, Koji Uehara has come down to earth. Meanwhile, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Will Middlebrooks were relatively quiet at the plate, which will be a problem going forward. With pitchers now avoiding David Ortiz, the Red Sox will need the rest of the lineup to heat up. The Tigers have their own faults, specifically in their bullpen and dealing with Miguel Cabrera’s injuries. Facing a revived Justin Verlander and likely Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer on two separate occasions could also may be the proverbial nail in the Sox’ coffin. This goes without mentioning the Tigers possess one of the most lethal lineups in the league today. It’ll be a tight series, but Jim Leyland’s squad appears to be the more complete team.
CB: Red Sox in 6 – Both the Red Sox and Tigers are in it to win it. Even though the Tigers won this series last year and were the World Series favorite earlier this year, the Red Sox have been the team to beat for most of this season. They both have an incredibly strong pitching staff to lead the team and offense to back them up. But, with the Red Sox pitching getting those few extra days of rest, I feel this allows them to have the advantage in the series. Both of the Tigers aces, Justin Verlander and Matt Scherzer, recently just pitched in the final games of the ALDS. Both of their outings were extremely long and hard games, allowing the Red Sox to possibly capitalize and gain a lead from this weakness. However, the key to the Red Sox success in this series will be to shut down Miguel Cabrera if that is even possible. He is a huge part of the Tigers offense and needs to be feared. As long as they keep him down, I feel the Beards will bring it and head to the World Series.
KM: Red Sox in 7 – The Red Sox and Tigers are the two best teams in the American League and both feature strong pitching rotations. Home field advantage could be a huge factor for the Red Sox, as they took two out of three games against the Tigers at Fenway back in September, and outscored the Tigers 43-35. The Tigers will have to wait to use Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer until later in the series, whereas the Red Sox can come out of the gate with all their starters rested. Both teams have solid offense, but at least on paper and from what we’ve seen, the Red Sox seem to have the deeper bench.
ER: Red Sox in 6: A Dodgers-Red Sox World Series is happening. But before those story lines emerge, there are plenty in this series. Jose Igelsias, traded to Detroit as part of the Jake Peavy trade in July, and Victor Martinez return to Boston. The Tigers look like the better team on paper with Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer. But Cabrera is hurting, Fielder is struggling, and Verlander won’t pitch until Game 3. The Red Sox throw ace Jon Lester in Game 1 and have been sitting back, while the Tigers were taken to a decisive fifth game by Oakland. The Sox magical season will continue.
MM: Red Sox in 6 – Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander effectively shut down the Athletics almost single handedly in the ALDS, Scherzer as a starter and reliever. The Red Sox will be a more difficult lineup to shutdown, why is that, Billy Beane? They get on base, sporting a .390 OBP, leading all teams in the playoffs. Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury will play a huge role in bulking up pitch counts in the Tigers rotation, and the bullpen is not very strong at all. If Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey can put out strong performances and Koji Uehara finds his mid season groove after a shaky ALDS, the Sox look good. I can’t believe it, but I’m actually picking the hometown team.
Make sure to check out Ricky Morin’s in-depth ALCS preview here