Baltimore Orioles vs. Detroit Tigers
Eric Russo: I’m going with the underdogs here. Yes, I’m aware that the Orioles won six more games than the Tigers during the regular season. But, the Tigers have been there before. They lost in the 2012 World Series and fell to the Red Sox in the ALCS a year ago. They have plenty of big-game experience. But Justin Verlander hasn’t been quite the same this year. And neither has Miguel Cabrera. The Orioles are young and fresh. They’re without Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, but Nelson Cruz has been a huge force and has made up for their losses. Orioles in 4.
Patrick Semansky/AP Images
Mike McMahon: The Tigers took a dip in August but regained their form in late September. From Ian Kinsler down to J.D. Martinez this lineup is very dangerous and matches up well against the O’s rotation and lefty-heavy bullpen. Credit to the O’s for getting this far without Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and the mediocre performance of Chris Davis, but outside of three colossal meltdowns from the Tigers lousy bullpen, (which actually wouldn’t be all that unbelievable), I don’t see Baltimore advancing.Tigers in 3.
Tyler Sullivan: Sometimes you just need to ride the hot team. Sometimes you just need to look at the stats. When those two combine, they make for a lethal combination. The Orioles CRUSH the stitching off the baseball leading the league in home runs by a margin of 25 long balls while also placing themselves in the top 10 in hit, runs and runs batted in for the season. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Scherzer-Verlander-Price rotation, but as much as the names scare me the actual players don’t. Price in particular who boasted a 9.00 ERA the last time he pitched in October. I see an upset here. Orioles in 4.
Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
ER: Going with the upset here too. The Royals comeback against Oakland in the AL Wild Card game was fun to watch. They are similar to the Orioles in that they have tons of talented young players and their grit and enthusiasm was on full display. They’ll ride their momentum into the ALCS. Royals in 5.
MM: All September I said there was no way the Royals were going to make the playoffs. I didn’t think there was any way they would beat Jon Lester and the A’s, and even after that, I couldn’t figure out a way they would beat the Angels in a five game series, then I changed my mind – here’s why. The Angels starting pitching is pretty awful once you get past Jered Weaver, I have zero faith in anyone the Halos are going to be throwing out there. Which leads me to believe that the Royals can take at least one game in Anaheim, I’m saying Game 2, then come home to KC with a chance to win two games and advance, they’ll do just that. I’m a believer in the Royals offense. Royals in 4.
TS: Yes, the Royals comeback was awesome. Nobody denies that. However, the Angles are too talented to be bounced out in the divisional round and I don’t see the Royals maintaining that momentum in a drawn out series. Mike Trout, the new face of the MLB, won’t let them. Should be an easy walk to the LCS for LA. Angles in 3.
San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
: I’d like to go with the Giants here. They have had this every other year thing going on (they won the World Series in 2010 and 2012), so they are on schedule. But it seems like it’s Washington’s time. Their young plethora of talent seems ready to break out. (Sense a theme here?). Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Ian Desmond could be a triple threat for a long time. Nationals in 4.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo
MM: Madison Bumgarner’s gem on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh put the Giants in a good place going into the NLDS in terms of pitching. The Nationals pretty much were in cruise control the entire second-half and I don’t see that as a good thing, I’m interested to see how they handle a high stakes game. We’ll finally get to see Stephen Strasburg pitch in the playoffs but I really think the Giants’ ability to win elimination games will be the deciding factor here because position-by-position these teams are pretty even. Giants in 5.
TS: There is always a marginally intriguing upset in both leagues leading up to the LCS and with the Giants winning the World Series 2 of the last 4 years, they fit the bill. They put on quite a show the other night against a Pirates team that most people saw making some noise in October rather than a very silent aarrgh. Madison Bumgarner seems like he can be the guy to carry his team in big moments posting a complete game shutout with 4 hits and 10 K’s in a do or die situation. Washington just seems like a team that always makes it to the postseason, but never actually does anything once they are there. I’m rolling with the Bay. Giants in 5.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
ER: The Dodgers have spent boatloads of cash over the past couple of years and this may be the season that it finally pays off. Clayton Kershaw is dominant and Zack Greinke is as solid a No. 2 in the league. The Cardinals have a nice team, but the Dodgers are too deep in the rotation. Dodgers in 4.
MM: The Cardinals roll into the playoffs after going 16-9 over their last 25 games – the best out of any team in the playoffs. Call this strange, but I see this series being decided in the dugouts. The matchup to watch is Mike Matheny against Don Mattingly. I personally think Matheny will manage the pants off of Mattingly and will utilize his bench and bullpen much better than his counterpart. The Dodgers have all the talent there to win and were one of the most consistent teams all year, but the Cardinals are, and always have been, a team that knows how to get it done in the playoffs. Cardinals in 5.
TS: Kershaw is on another level in the pitching stratosphere so betting, or batting for that matter, against him would be foolish. Especially, when in a series where you only need 3 wins and he could potentially pitch two of those games is a virtual lock in my eyes. The Cards just got an unlucky draw in opponents. Dodgers in 4.