Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Division Series Preview

"That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early."

I will just say this right now: I'm going to preview each round, but if the Sox are out, look for me to give the shortest previews ever. Like seriously, maybe one or two lines maximum, because I just won't care. Hey, I'm being honest, and this is mostly for Boston sports, so it's about right. The playoffs start tomorrow (by the way, I want to point out how this is somewhat taking me by surprise due to the disease I contracted known as "Patriots Fever"), and it's only right to preview the division series. Red Sox fans, this is rare air for us. Your team has the best record in baseball (technically we're tied with Cleveland...whatever) for the first time in 61 years...did you hear me?...61 years!!! First, let's start in the greatest city in the world...

Anaheim vs. Boston (Season Series: BOS 6-4): The Sox have cleaned up on John Lackey at Fenway, and that's who they will face tomorrow at the friendly confines. Lackey's last start at Fenway was on August 17, which coincidentally was Clay Buchholz's first start. Lackey got off to a terrible start, facing ten batters and throwing 46 pitches, giving up six earned. He did settle, and went fairly unscaved through the next three innings, allowing an unearned run before being lifted after four. Josh Beckett, who, unless C.C. Sabathia gets a huge push from somewhere, will be the AL Cy Young winner, opposes Lackey in Game 1. Beckett actually pitched the second game of the double-header Lackey pitched in, and did very well, giving up only one earned over seven innings before the inevitable Eric Gagne blow-up occurred and the Sox ended up losing. Both of Beckett's starts against the Halos came at Fenway, and in both, he was dominant, giving up only two earned in 13 innings. In Game 2, the Sox made a somewhat surprising move, electing to go with Dice-K over Schilling to face Escobar. The move does make sense though. This will be the first playoff run for Dice, and Fenway will be a much safer place for him to be than Anaheim. I know that baseball games are rowdy in Japan, but still, I don't think we need this guy to pitch with the thundersticks, and the rally monkey, and all that crazy kind of stuff going on. Instead, keep him where he's comfortable...or at least where there will be more people pulling for him than they would be out in Cali. This is Dice's first start against the Angels ever, and Escobar also did not pitch against the Sox this year, so there's no real telling of what to expect. I guess what I can share is what Escobar's past has been against Boston. Last season, he faced the Sox at home and on the road. At Fenway, he pitched well, giving up two earned over six innings. In the start at Anaheim, he gave up five earned over eight innings. So, it's sort of a mixed bag with him. The hope here is that Dice keeps the Sox in the game. Granted, the Angels bullpen has been pretty solid, but they can be beat. I worry about facing K-Rod though, and I think he's on a Rivera-like level in terms of the chances a team has to beat him when he has a lead. In Game 3, Schilling, who is 7-2 in the postseason with a 2.06 ERA. This is the guy you want to start on the road for sure. You really can't do much better than those numbers. Jered Weaver is 0-2 in four career starts against the Sox. In his one start against the Sox at Anaheim this year, he looked good, giving up two earned over six innings, but received no run support, and got a no decision. Sorry to go all "Captain Obvious" on you here, but the key to the series will be how well the Sox can get runners in that are in scoring position...RISP if you will. This has been the Achilles' heel for the team since...forever. The Angels come into this series with some injury question marks, most notably Vladimir Guerrero. Guerrero will likely be limited to DH duties because of his triceps injury, which would move Chone Figgins out of position and into right field, and as we all know, playing right in Fenway is no picnic. Manny looks healthy, but he has been limited since coming back. The same goes for Youk. How healthy are these guys? You have to hope that they are in "game" condition, and can stay there for however long the Sox are in the playoffs, because without even one of the two, the lineup suffers a huge blow. Game 1 is huge. The Sox need to come out just firing on all cylinders tomorrow. Sure, if they lose tomorrow, they definitely are still in it and have a chance, but given the choice, I want to dispose of the Angels as quick as possible. What will be interesting is if the rotation flips for Game 4, as it's believed the Sox are just going to go with a three-man rotation in the LDS. So, if Beckett has to pitch again, how will he do the second time around in Anaheim? Even more, if it gets to a Game 5, can Dice handle pitching a season-deciding game? See, this is why I just want an uneventful sweep in the first round, just like what they did in '04.

Red Sox in 3

New York vs. Cleveland (NYY 6-0)
: Again, these will be really short because, well, I really just don't care at all about anyone else. I have the Sox, Cocks, Pats, and Bruins to worry about this week, and frankly, again, if the Sox lose, I will really stop caring all together about baseball. So, I mean, the Yankees have clawed there way into the playoffs...I just don't think there's any way they lose to Cleveland. It has to be Boston/New York. In fact, I'm about to propose the Mets and Yankees switch leagues because the next time these two face each other in the playoffs, it should be for all the marbles, which would be the only way to truly escalate this rivalry even more.

New York in 4

Colorado vs. Philadelphia (COL 4-3):
So Philly must have been laughing their collective asses off for the last two weeks or so. First, the Mets have the second worst collapse in recent memory (We're #1! Hooray!), and basically hand the division title to the Phillies. Then, two teams out west beat the holy crap out of each other until finally, Colorado won with a sac fly in the bottom of the 13th inning...or I should say, the umpires declared the Rockies the winner because the home plate umpire decided to stand completely out of position, call Matt Holliday safe, and send the Padres home because he blew a call...well done. Anyway, Holliday is the MVP of the NL now that the Rockies are in the playoffs (sorry Eric Byrnes, I did what I could), and somehow, did not break his wrist on the slide last night. Philly has Cole Hamels...and that's about it for pitching. I just believe that Colorado will take one at Philly, likely Game 2, and then will roll the Phils in 3 & 4 at Denver.

Colorado in 4

Chicago vs. Arizona (ARI 4-2):
The Cubbies don't have the pitching to contend with the D-Backs. It's just assumed Brandon Webb will win his starts, so all Arizona has to do is win one other game, and they're set. However (just to spice things up), I really like the Cubs to drag this out into five games, and beat the upstart D-Backs.

Chicago in 5

So, I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow. A triple-header of baseball coverage starting with the Phillies, then the Sox, and ending with the Cubs. I'm going to probably watch the whole darn thing because...well, I totally can, so why not right? Take care everyone. Peace.


No comments: