MLB playoffs

A red October?

MLB playoffs

It is no longer the best team, but the hottest team that will win the World Series in this era of baseball. If you get in the playoffs, you have a shot. Anything can happen as the Giants proved two out of the last three years. Here is what I think is going to happen this October.

Which team will win the World Series?

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National League: Wild Card:

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Key to the series: Offense. This could be a game of small ball. Both of these teams have very solid bullpens, so these teams are going to have manufacture runs.

Why the Pirates will win: The lone game of this series is in Pittsburgh. This gives a huge advantage to Pittsburgh where the Pirates are an outstanding 48-28. Meanwhile, the Reds are a mere 38-40 on the road. Also, probable Reds starter Mat Latos has been dominated by NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen who is batting .333 against Latos. Plus, is Latos healthy? He told the media last week that he had an abdominal injury that he did not tell the Reds about and has been pitching through.

Why the Reds will win: The Reds simply have more experience than the Pirates. Cincinnati has been to the postseason 3 out of the last 4 years, while this is Pittsburgh first winning season since 1992. Plus, a game of small ball would favor the Reds. New addition Billy Hamilton could be a huge weapon, especially if it’s a close game late. He has the ability to steal a base on any catcher as he proved by stealing two bases off the best defensive catcher in the game, Yadier Molina.

 The Pick: Cincinnati Reds.

American League: Wild Card:

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Indians

Key to the series: Power Hitters. Which team will get a home run in this game. Which ever team does, will probably win the game.

Why the Indians will win: The Indians completely reloaded their roster this year. They added Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Drew Stubbs. They may not be the sexy pick, but the Giants won two of the last three World Series. Anything can happen, right?

Why the Rays will win: Pitching. In all likelihood, David Price will be pitching for the Rays in this game. Price, who won the Cy Young last year, will be going against a Texas offense that has struggled mightily of late. The Rays will have to get some help from their own offense, but a pitchers duel favors a Rays team that has played small ball all year.

The pick: Tampa Bay Rays

NLDS: LA Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Key to the series: Dodgers bullpen. That Dodgers ‘pen can be very  good, and very bad. Which ever one shows up could determine this series.

Why the dodgers will win: They are the hottest team in baseball over the last 2-3 months. Their offense is unbelievably prolific. The owners financial flexibility has built this team into a juggernaut. Their offense features former all stars Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Michael Young, Matt Kemp (when healthy), and Carl Crawford. But their pitching might give them the biggest edge. In order to beat the Dodgers in the playoffs, you will have to beat Clayton Kershaw twice. Zach Grienke isn’t bad either.

Why the Cardinals will win: If there is a team out there that can get to Clayton Kershaw it is the Cardinals. They boast the best offense in the league with 738 runs scored. Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina are in the middle of that lineup. That is a nightmare for any opponent. Can Matt Kemp get healthy for the Dodgers? If not Adam Wainwright and the rest of that young rotation in St.Louis could have an easier route to the NLCS.

The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals

NLDS: Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves

Key to the series: Braves offense. Which Justin Upton will show up? The one that can hit a homerun on any pitch, or the one that will swing on every pitch.

Why the Braves will win: The Braves have been the best team in the NL all season long. Their rotation is among the best in baseball. If this series goes the distance, the Braves have home field advantage. That will be huge considering the Braves are a commanding 30 games above .500 at home. Add that to the fact that they took 2 out of 3 from the Reds in Cincinnati this year.

Why the Reds will win: The Reds are finally healthy for the first time all year. Ryan Ludwick, Johnny Cueto, and Sean Marshall will bolster an already good Reds team. The Reds will probably use Cueto in the bullpen, much like the Giants did with Tim Lincecum last year. The Reds just hope their bats show up this year. Last year, the bats went silent as they dropped 3 in a row to the champion Giants. Shin Soo-Choo should help in that category. Jay Bruce is on one of his classic hot streaks, and that is very good news for the Reds.

The pick: Cincinnati Reds

ALDS: Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics

Key to the series: Bartolo Colon. Colon was a leader in ERA this year. But, can he be effective against the Tigers big bats?

Why the Tigers will win: We saw this same match up last year, and the Tigers beat down the A’s. The Tigers have the best pitcher in the league in Justin Verlander, and the best hitter in the league in Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers rank second in the league in runs (763) and on base percentage (.348). They rank first in slugging percentage (.438) and batting average (.285). That is a good combo. They got to the world series last year, but many people think this year’s team is better. Especially after Max Scherzer’s career year.

Why the A’s will win: The Athletics just took 3 of 4 from the Tigers in Detroit. They know they can beat them because they have beaten them. The A’s have elite pitching. They can hurt you from the rotation and in the bullpen. The A’s are another team that is an elite home team, and the Tigers will have to beat the A’s at home to move on.

The Pick: Detroit Tigers

ALDS: Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Key to the series: The unstoppable force meets the immovable object. If the Rays pitching can silence the Sox offense, they’ll win. But, if the Red Sox can get anything going offensively it gives them a huge edge.

Why the Red Sox will win: Boston has been the best team in baseball. The Red Sox have a great balance of starting pitching and hitting. The Red Sox have only gotten better in September unlike the Rangers who continue to struggle. The Sox are first in Runs scored, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. They are also second in batting average. The offense looks ready for a run. They added Jake Peavey at the trade deadline to ensure a solid pitching staff.

Why the Rays will win: Pitching is king. This league revolves around good pitching. The Rays have one of the best pitching staffs of the league. David Price, Matt Moore, and Jeremy Hellickson all in the same rotation is scary.

The Pick: Boston Red Sox

NLCS: Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Key to the series: Cincinnati hitting with runners in scoring position. The Reds will need to capitalize on every opportunity they have. Especially against a St.Louis team that has dominated them.

Why the Cardinals will win: The Cardinals dominate the Reds. The Cardinals are 6-3 against the Reds at home this year. They just have the Reds number. Cincy pitchers JJ Hoover, and Mike Leake should be banned from even looking at the ball against the Cards. They have been that ineffective against this team. It will be tough to go against the Cards. The only team that could beat them might be themselves.

Why the Reds will win: The Reds just took 3 of 4 from the Cardinals. That series was in Cincinnati, but at the very least it gave a dangerous Cincinnati team a lot of confidence against a team that has owned them this year. Billy Hamilton gives the Reds a whole new dynamic. One hit can mean a run now, instead of runners on just first and second or first and third. But, will Dusty Baker swallow his pride and bat Jay Bruce cleanup? He did in that last series when the Reds dominated the Cards. Allen Craig’s health could also have an impact in this series. If he isn’t healthy, big advantage to the Reds.

The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals.

ALCS: Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers

Key to the series: Bullpens. Whichever one of these injury ridden bullpens can be most effective will win this series.

Why the Red Sox will win: Justin Verlander has not been himself in the postseason. He has an ERA north of five in his postseason career. Boston’s offense is a good matchup with Verlander. The Red Sox can hit fastballs lead by Big Papi.

Why the Tigers will win: The Red Sox offense is good, but it might be irrelevant against the Tigers deep rotation. All Max Scherzer does is win, he was the only pitcher to get twenty wins this season. Anibal Sanchez also will give the Sox problems as he is among the leaders in ERA.

The Pick: Boston Red Sox

World Series: Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Key to the series: Pitching. These are the two best offenses in the game. The Red Sox have elite players Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Jacoby Ellisbury. The Cards have Matt Holiday, Carlos Beltran, and Yadier Molina among others. If you love the long ball, you will love this series. Expect a lot of offense in this series.

The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals

MVP: Carlos Beltran

The Cardinals are safest bet to win the World Series. Their offense is simply unstoppable, and their pitching is very young and talented. That is a potent combination.