Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Playoff Predictions: AL
AL West: A's
The AL West will be a very, very tight race all the way to the wire. Fittingly, the A's will host the Angels in a 4-game set to wrap up the season in the last weekend of the '06 campaign. Not to overstate the obvious, but look for both teams to be within 1 game of each other going into the weekend, with the A's coming out on top.
The Mariners will soon fall out of contention, and the Rangers may not be far behind. Granted the Rangers added Carlos Lee to their already powerful offense, but their pitching is still awful, and as the season winds down and the late-September games feel like mid-October ones, pitching rules all. The Rangers certainly made their line-up much more dangerous, but their starting rotation is not quite good enough. Kip Wells was just brought in as their savior. Do I even need to make a joke?
So now it's down to the A's and the Angels. Before the first pitch was even thrown, I predicted the Oakland A's to win the World Series. I may be a little off, due to the fact that I thought their line-up wouldn't be this bad, but the A's can ride their filthy starting rotation all the way to the playoffs. Plus, the A's haven't even been at full-strength yet this season, as stud pitcher Rich Harden has barely thrown yet. When Harden comes back, the 1-2-3 combo of Zito, Haren and Harden will show shades of the mid-90s Braves.
Mark your calendars though: September 28-October 1st. Angels @ A's to wrap-up the season.
AL Central: Tigers
Ok, it's August 1st, the Tigers can come back down to earth already and fall out of contention. These are the Detroit Tigers right? The team that was a punchline only three short years ago? But they're 7 1/2 up on the "Best Team In Baseba;;" Chicago White Sox. These guys? Fuckin' right they are.
Pardon the rant I am about to go on, but the Tigers aren't going away, and why should they? They have top-flight starting pitching, a young and powerful bullpen, and a stellar line-up. So why should they go away? It's August and they're 7 1/2 games up, what would possibly lead people to believe they will fade? Their starting pitching is young (besides Kenny Rogers) so an injury is unlikely. It's time for people to stop hyping the White Sox, and start believing in the Tigers.
AL East: Yankees
My favorite division is about to be won by my least favorite team. I love the Red Sox. I hate the Yankees. Unfortunatly, I know what's about to happen. The adding of Bobby Abreu makes the Yanks line-up that much better. Abreu is no Sheff (who now won't be back until mid-September, if at all) but Melky/Bernie/Guile are no Abreu. People keep saying Corey Lidle is the answer for the Yanks. Ok, give me a break. However, with Mussina and Wang throwing well, Randy Johnson having two of three starts being quality starts, and Jared Wright and Lidle staying healthy, the Yanks will be just fine.
I know the Sox are clearly not done yet, and really won't go away anytime soon, but their pitching is awful. Clement is gone for the year, Boomer isn't read yet, and Wakefield is still a month away. Beckett/Schill/Lester have been excellent, but the Sox would need a little more for their division title push.
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
As I just stated, the Red Sox mediocre pitching will soon catch up to them, but not enough to completely drop them out of the playoffs. I do think there is a strong possibilty the Yanks win the WC and the Sox win the division, it will be tough for the Sox. They need Wake and Boomer to both pitch well, or else it's almost an automatic loss every time those two take the mound. The Yanks and Sox still face each other 9 more times this season, including a huge 5-game set in Fenway Park starting Friday, August 18th. That series right there could sway the division one way or the other, and stay that way until the playoffs start.
The White Sox have been called "The Best Team In Baseball" all year long, but now people are starting to realize that they are complete idiots for saying so. Aside of Contreras, the ChiSox rotation has been horrible recently. And the Baseball Tonight "experts" have all been saying that starting pitching is their strength, but it now clear to everyone that the ChiSox rotation all had career year's last season, and that the magic is running out. The ChiSox will make it close, but will fall in the end.
The Twins are this season's sexy pick to make a late-season run and win the WC, but it may be too late. The Twins are only 1 game out of the WC, but they have been playing out of their minds this past month, which is something that may not go on for the rest of the season. They still need to travel to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, in games that will pose to be huge. Should the Twins make the playoffs though, their 1-2 punch of Santana and Liriano will be tough to beat, and that may be the understatement of the year.
Coming tomorrow: NL Playoff Predictions