Wednesday, October 8, 2008

LCS Preview

By TwinsWin83

It’s hard to believe we're already to the League Championship Series for this season, seems like just yesterday we were getting ready for the white-hot Rockies to take on the DBacks and the Red Sox to take on the Indians in last year’s LCS matchups. Now it’s 2008 and we have another surprise team four wins away from the World Series. Taking the Rockies spot as this seasons new kids on the block are the Tampa Bay Rays. Their opponents, the Red Sox, are no strangers to October baseball. The Dodgers and Phillies match-up on the National League side in a meeting of two teams with a lot of history, just not a lot of possitive history as of late. So once again, we will make our predictions, most of us without much certainty at all, and watch as we wait to see who the next entrants into the Fall Classic will be.

Rays vs. Red Sox

Season Series: Rays 10-8

What You Should Know: These two teams are incredibly familiar with one another, a result of meeting up 18 times this season as AL East rivals, so there won’t be many surprises. This series has been dominated by the home team but you can almost always throw that stat out the window come October as teams are to forced to deal with the added pressures of the postseason. They Rays are young, the Sox are experienced, but neither is a really clear favorite here. It's going to come down to which team plays like they should at home and can sneak a win or two out on the road.

Why the Rays Will Win: Because they are the best team at home in baseball. The Rays were 57-24 at Tropicana Field this year, and almost never lost when there was more than 30,000 fans in the stands ringing their cowbells. Common sense might tell you that their incredibly young and inexperienced team should be no match for the October-tested Sox, but if the previous 162 games and Division Series win over the White Sox have taught us anything about the Rays it’s that these kids don’t seem to care that they shouldn’t be here right now. If the Trop gets rocking and the Rays can pull out one or both games at home to start the series it could knock the Sox back on their heels and put them off their game for the rest of the ALCS. Look for the young pitchers to be fired up and throw well, and if the offense responds the Rays will jump out quickly.

Why the Red Sox Will Win: Because they are the Red Sox and this is October. That’s a statement that would have seemed ridiculous five years ago but things have changed and the franchise that couldn’t break “The Curse” for nearly 90 years are now on the edge of becoming a dynasty. Their pitching, which carried them in 2004 and last year, is as strong as ever, even without Mr. Bloody Sock Curt Schilling steering the ship. Jon Lester has emerged as a lights-out ace and a healthy Josh Beckett and Dice-K can shut anyone down when they are on top of their games. Throw in an often-dynamic offense and the Sox will be tough to beat. The series might come down to whether or not the Sox can pull out a win in one of the first two games in Tampa and take back home-field advantage from the Rays.

What to Watch For: Jonathan Pappelbon vs. the Rays. The Red Sox closer with the nasty glare has been human this year, with five blown saves and a ho-hum ERA of 2.34. If the Sox are ahead late in one of the first two games we might see Pappelbon in the 8th inning to protect a small lead, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pandemonium and cow bells at the Trop.

Who Will Win: As much as it would be great to see the Rays continue this improbable run I think their luck runs out here against the more experienced Red Sox. The Trop goes silent. RED SOX IN 6.

Phillies vs. Dodgers

Season Series: Los Angeles 4-2

What You Should Know: These were the two hottest teams heading into October, as both rattled of an impressive 17-8 record in September. Both are storied franchises in the baseball world but neither has seen much October success lately. The Phillies have had a winning record for the past six years but have yet to get over the hump, and the Dodgers are a surprise coming out of the weak-NL West, but don’t tell either of them that because both clubs are four wins from the World Series.

Why the Phillies will win: Because the fans in Philly have suffered enough. The Phillies have been around for a long time, since 1883 to be exact, but they have only won one World Series (1980) and made only six playoff appearances (and this article won’t mention some of other sports inflicted-suffering that the folks of Philadelphia have faced over the past few decades). This Phillies team, which houses the past three National League MVPs, can be downright explosive when the offense is clicking. The pitching staff has done its job lately and Brad Lidge has been perfect this year in save opportunities, making most hitters look silly with his nasty slider and 97 MPH fastball. Once again, the momentum could swing the Phillies direction quickly if they are able to capitalize on the home-field advantage in the first two games.

Why the Dodgers Win: Because Joe Torre believes in karma. The Yankees who cast Torre aside after last season are at home watching now as Joe leads the Dodgers through October. As tiresome as Manny Ramirez and his antics can be there is no denying the impact he’s had in LA. His numbers are unreal, batting .396 in 53 games in Dodger-blue to go along with 17 home runs and 53 RBI’s. The pitching staff has patched things together and after the way LA finished the regular season and then dispatched of the heavily favored Cubs in the first round it looks like momentum is definitely a friend of theirs right now. All of the positive things that the Dodgers have going for them right now might pale in comparison to the simple fact that they are being led by a manager who has been here before and might be a cool head to prevail during any tight situations that might arise in this NLCS.

What to Watch For: Cole Hamels vs. Manny Ramirez. The best pitcher in this series vs. the best hitter in the series, what could be more important? Hamels was unhittable in his start against the Brewers in the NLDS and if he can shut down Manny the effect could trickle down to the rest of the Dodgers line-up. The opposite could also be the result if Manny has some success against Hamels, as it could show the rest of his teammates that the Phillies ace is hittable.

Who Will Win: I think the dynamic Phillies players, Howard, Utley and Rollins will be too much for the hit-or-miss Dodgers offense in this series, and the Phils make their city proud. Phillies in 6.

My 2008 World Series Pick
Boston vs. Philly


Daymonster said...

That's a good preview. I am still rooting for the Rays. Don't try and stop me.

Daymonster said...

this sucks

TwinsWin83 said...

My wife posed this question to me the other day and I had a hard time answering it. Who do you hate more, the Yankees or the White Sox?

Its hard to answer because I hate what the Yankees stand for, but I hate everything else about the White Sox, from their nasty players to their fans to the way they play the game. And, because the Twins play them 18 times a year they pose more of a direct threat to our favorite team. So, for right now, I think the White Sox qualify as enemy #1 on my list.

Id be interested to know how everyone else feels.

haasertime said...

as a twins fan, i hate the white sox more, but as a baseball fan, i hate the yankees more. Put it this way: would you rather see the yankees win the world series or the white sox?

bizmarkie507 said...

as a sports fan I hate the Red Sox more than anything because of how hypocritical they are.

Daymonster said...

I definitely hate the White Sox more. I actually think I hate the Red Sox more than the Yankees now too.

soup said...

Thanks for the preview. Does anyone know what the pitching matchups are?

I hate the White Sox more. The Yankees are sooooo last century.

Holmer said...

I hate the White Sox.
I hate the Yankees.

These statements have raced neck 'n neck in my head for years. Letting one get in front of the other takes an A-Rod stiff arm at first, or an A.J. "incidental" collision during a pickle. So right now, the White Sox have taken the hate lead, and are pulling away.

I sure am glad those Rays came to play. I couldn't stand another White Sox win. As for who's going to win the next stage; you've got it all backwards 83. Rays in six, Dodgers in seven. Manny for MVP.