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By Michael Tapia

Welcome to the NewsOne 2010 MLB Divisional Series predictions.

American League:

The regular season has concluded and it took to the very last day for all to be defined in this year’s postseason.

After the 162nd game of the season, we learned that the Tampa Bay Rays won the division over the New York Yankees. In the National League after making a close run for the wildcard, the San Diego Padres missed the playoffs by one game to the Atlanta Braves.  

The playoffs begin this Wednesday with the Twins hosting the Yankees, and the Rays facing the Rangers. In the NL, the Phillies will match up against the Reds and the Giants will be facing the Braves.

The Yankees/Twins series is an encore of last year’s American League Division Series which the Yankees swept in three games. This year, new questions have emerged – will the struggling Yankees rotation hold up, and for the Twins will the absence of Justin Morneau be decisive?

Being that pitching is so important, especially in a short series, do no be surprised if the Yankees sweep again with the better staff. The key to the Yankees success is based on their second and third starters doing a good a job and pitching at least six solid innings. For the Twins, the endeavor is somewhat more complex as they need to take advantage of the Yankee bullpen before Mariano Rivera steps on the mound.

The pitching match ups are as follows:          

Yankees            vs.            Twins

Game 1: CC Sabathia (21-7) vs. Francisco Liriano (14-10)

Game 2: Andy Pettitte 11-3 vs. Carl Pavano (17-11)

Game 3: )* Phil Hughes (18-8) vs. Brian Duensing (10-3)

Game 4: CC Sabathia (21-7) vs. Nick Blackburn (10-12)

Game 5: TBA vs. TBA

* = projected

The other American Division League Series appears to be somewhat more competitive.

The Tampa Rays won the regular series against the Texas Rangers 4-2, but the Rangers do have experience on their side. The Rangers have a very good challenge to overcome in the Rays rotation. It will be crucial for the Texas team to get stellar performances from sluggers like Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz at the plate against outstanding pitchers like David Price and Matt Garza. 

Game one of the series will be an interesting pitcher’s duel between Cliff Lee and David Price; this will be an exciting experience vs. talent battle.

The “X” of the series will be C.J. Wilson who does have better numbers than Matt Garza, but does not pitch in an offensive driven AL East. On the other hand, Tampa will need Evan Longoria to be healthy and slugger Carlos Pena will need to make more contact than usual at the plate. Expect this series to last longer than its Yankees/Twins counterpart does with the Rays advancing in four games.

The pitching match ups are the following:

Texas                        vs.            Rays

Game 1: Cliff Lee (12-9) vs. David Price (19-6)

Game 2: C.J. Wilson (15-8) vs. James Shields (13-15)

Game 3: Colby Lewis (12-13)) vs. Matt Garza (15-10)

Game 4: Tommy Hunter (13-4) vs. Wade Davis (12-10)

Game 5: TBA vs. TBA

National League:

The National League Division Series will be completely different from last year as Philadelphia is the only returning team.

The Phillies will be hosting the Reds in what should be a similar type match up as the Yankees/Twins. The Phillies are the favorite as they have a more complete team than the Reds. The Phillies biggest advantage over the Reds is their rotation. Roy Halladay/Roy Oswalt/Cole Hamels is obviously a better combination than Edinson Volquez/Bronson Arroyo/Johnny Cueto. Not only did the Phillies’ pitchers post better numbers by finishing with a collective record of 46-34/2.75 ERA/623Ks compared to the Reds’

33-20/3.94ERA/326Ks, but they also have more playoff experience. Of the three Red starters, Bronson Arroyo is the only one with playoff experience acquired during his tenure with the Boston Red Sox.

Both teams have good bats in Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips/Scott Rolen for the Reds and Ryan Howard/Jayson Werth/Chase Utley, but the difference in pitching is simply too much for the Phillies to lose this series. In conclusion, the Phillies should sweep the Reds to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Reds                         vs.            Phillies

Game 1: Edinson Volquez (4-3) vs. Roy Halladay (21-10)

Game 2: Bronson Arroyo (17-10) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13)

Game 3: Johnny Cueto (12-7) vs, Cole Hamels (12-11)

Game 4: TBA vs. TBA

Game 5: TBA vs. TBA

The San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves are the other Division Series in the National League. This should be the more competitive series as both teams pair up more or less the same. Obviously, the pitching advantage goes to the Giants, but the batting advantage goes to the Braves.

Being that the Giants’

pitching advantage is greater than the Braves, the California team has the edge but not by much. The Giants have the best pitching in the league with a major league low 3.36 ERA as a team. The thought of having to face Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez in a short series is frightening in itself. Yes, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson are respectable pitchers, but any of the San Francisco 3 are good enough to beat the best of the best on any given day.

For the Braves, Tommy Hanson simply does not match up equally to the San Francisco starters. Therefore, the “X”

factor of this series is Tommy Hanson, who will probably be the Braves downfall. Although the Giants have the pitching advantage, expect the series to extend to five games with San Francisco advancing.

 Braves      vs.    Giants

Game 1: Derek Lowe (16-12) vs. Tim Lincecum (16-10)

Game 2: Tommy Hanson (10-11) vs. Matt Cain (13-11)

Game 3: Tim Hudson (17-9) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (13-9)

Game 4: TBA vs. TBA

Game 5: TBA vs. TBA


2010 MLB Playoffs: Team by Team preview

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