MLB Playoffs 2012: Breaking Down the ALCS and NLCS
Now, after all the champagne is spilled, splattered an chugged, four teams are left to battle for at chance at the World Series; the others are left wondering how they can close out final innings better—so goes the mind-game of the MLB Postseason.
Predictions are always difficult, and if the Divisional Series' have taught us anything it's this: Any team can win it. The decider comes down to which one messes up the least. However, it's worth taking a look at the final four, sorting through the numbers, and deciding which has the upper edge in the series—if there is such a thing.
Yankees vs. Detroit
The Yankees hold the regular season match up over the Tigers six games to four, but that means very little in the playoffs. What does matter is the Yankees' hitting, or lack of. If they are to stand a chance against the Tigers, hitting will be the key. I know that sounds obvious, but more to the point, if the Yankees are going to rely on Raul Ibanez this series, they are dead in the water.
In a seven-games series the pitching is always magnified; both teams have the arms to carry a game, as they have shown already, but a slight edge might go to the fact that Verlander is second to none as a true ace, and Scherzer looks strong as well—but it's fractions at best.
Kuroda, Hughes and Pettitte have to hold the mound, knowing that C.C Sabathia will most likely do his job, and beat the middle starters of the Tigers. Remember this: Verlander isn't pitching every game. the Yankees will need to take advantage when he is not—and hit the ball.
Pitching performances aside, whatever team brings the bats to the game will win. I doubt the Yankees will go blank two series in a row, but I also know that Prince and company will be drooling once they get to a short-porched Bronx.
Cardinal vs. Giants
Will Tim Lincecum continue his playoff excellence?
That may be the key to the Giants success. Their starters will have to do better in this series than they did against the Reds. Again, that might seem obvious, but the Cardinals are not the Reds; they have shown ability to jump on every little mistake chucked over the plate. I like the Giants relief pitching, but over seven games of overuse, they will be at a huge disadvantage.
The hitting for the Giants has shown signs of improvement, leaving a little less stress on Bochy, but they can't be expected to bail out the pitching every game—more importantly, I don't believe they can.
The Cardinals have to get over their playoff-hangover against a young, immature and playoff-shaky Nationals team. The Cardinals, much like the Giants, have shown they are not easy to put away, making every game and inning paramount—but like the Yankees, if the Cards' are going to rely on Descalso for timely hits then the series is over before it even stars.
From top to bottom, the Cardinals have a better lineup with more tools to hurt you, but then again, that's what the Reds had. If Beltran continues to show the playoff prowess he somehow has, then the Cards will be in the right direction towards another World Series. Their pitching is good enough to handle a weaker Giants' squad—assuming Garcia doesn't do this again—leaving the deciding innings to a solid bullpen.
We shall see...