Hunt for October: MLB playoff preview

By Daniel Johnson, Staff Writer

Published in print Oct. 1, 2014

Now that baseball is done proclaiming the gospel of Derek Jeter as the greatest Yankee since Mickey Mantle, fans can now focus on the postseason. Besides a dip in the temperature, October baseball has had a special history which excites fans to be eager to watch what will unfold for baseball starting this week. 

Giants’ pitching will be their downfall

The Giants have had one of their most successful five years runs in the franchise’s history. San Francisco won the World Series in 2010 and again in 2012. Both years, the team relied on its pitching to hide their poor offense. However, this year, the Giants lineup has been a model of consistency. The team might have one of the most underrated lineups with Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse. As the hitting for the Giants improved, their pitching staff on the other hand has worsened. Since ace Matt Cain was lost for the season in August, Jake Peavy and Madison Bumgarner have been the only shining light in their rotation. With shaky starting pitching, as strong as the Giants’ bullpen is, it would be tough to maintain the team’s skilled relievers if they have to come into the game in the 4th inning.

Do not expect much from the Orioles

It was sad to see the nucleus of this team break down in the past month. At the beginning of the year, when power hitting catcher Matt Wieters was lost for the year, and Manny Machado was still recovering from his knee injury, Baltimore still kept themselves in the tough AL East. I remember looking at the Orioles in July, and telling myself, “This is the best team in the American League”. Machado was healthy and Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz were making themselves into the best outfield in baseball. Also, the pitching staff had been quietly having a great season. Then, the team is hit with a double whammy. First they lose Machado for the season due to injury, and then they lose their power hitting first baseman Chris Davis, for the first eight games of the playoffs with a suspension. Though the outfield and staff is still intact, those losses will be felt in the first round.

Don’t Believe the Hype in Detroit

Since their World Series loss two years ago, the Tigers have gotten worse every year. Miguel Cabrera is having a down year (for his standards). Justin Verlander is having the worst season of his career. Even David Price, the biggest name of the trade deadline, is not doing anything special since his arrival. Nothing about Detroit can be relied upon. Their hitting, defense, pitching, especially in the bullpen, all have too many question marks for this team to be reliable in the big moments come this postseason.

The Wild Cards of the American League are dangerous

Up until August, the Royals was just one of many teams battling for the second wild card spot. Since then, the Royals have won 33 out of 50 games in the past two months, and fought the Tigers for the AL Central crown. In Oakland’s case, they went from being the best team in the league, to almost missing out on the postseason following a terrible collapse, and the emergence of the Angels. Still, both teams feature deep lineups, a number one starter with postseason experience, and lineups that may not have big names, but can put up big numbers in crutch time.

Expect to see a LA World Series

As much as I love parody in sports, there is no parody in this year’s playoffs. Barring a collapse from either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, these are your World Series teams. Both teams have taken the Yankees management model of getting big names in trades and free agency. The Angels have signed Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and CJ Wilson over the past two years, while the Dodgers traded for Adrian Gonzalez, and signed Dan Haren. However, it was through their farm system over the past two years  which was the real difference. Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels are probably the best young players in the league today. In the end, I expect the Dodger’s pitching will lead the team to its first championship since 1988.



Categories: daniel johnson, Sports

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