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Monday, June 24, 2024
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MLB Playoffs- Divisional Round Preview

A.L.D.S

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

The Twins will be without former MVP first baseman Justin Morneau for the rest of the entire postseason. However, they posted a better record (49-29) and have scored more runs per game (5.0) since Morneau went down earlier this season.

As the Twins have heated up toward the end of the season, the Yankees pitching staff cooled down. C.C. Sabathia remains the only sure starter for the defending champs. A.J. Burnett has been taken out of the rotation for the series, Andy Pettite is coming off of an injury, and Phil Hughes has never made a postseason start.

That being said, the Yankees have had the Twins number this decade. New York has eliminated the Twins in the last three meetings between the teams in the postseason. In addition, the Yankees won the season series 4-2.

The Twins must use their homefield advantage effectively and keep up their hot hitting. Their rotation is also shaky except for their ace Francisco Liriano. The Yankees were tops in runs scored and on-base percentage this season.

Prediction: Yankees in four.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

This is a matchup between two teams who didn't make the playoffs last season and have never won a World Series.

The Rays, however, seem to have all the pieces together to secure their first title. They led the American League in walks and stolen bases and were third in runs scored. A solid rotation is headlined by ace David Price, and they have a lot of power behind the plate to compliment their speed.

The Rangers have had their division locked up for quite some time now. However, they have battled late-season injuries and haven't played their best baseball down the stretch.

To make matters worse, their "ace in the hole," Cliff Lee, may not be too effective against Tampa. The Rays had the second best record in baseball when opponents started a left-handed pitcher and have beaten Lee three times this season.

Prediction: Rays in four.

N.L.D.S

Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

It's hard to imagine that a team who was trailing the Mets by half a game at the All-Star break would finish the year with the best record in baseball. But the Phillies did just that.

Since the trade deadline acquisition of Roy Oswalt, the Phillies are 42-19 and have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. The Phillies top three pitchers – Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels – combined for a record of 13-1 in the month of September, which propelled them into the playoffs.

The Reds are one of baseball's surprise teams this season. MVP candidate Joey Votto leads a potent Reds offense that ranks in the top five in MLB in four important statistics: runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging-percentage.

Cincinnati has racked up most of their wins against weaker NL competition and has struggled at times with the better teams. The Reds have a record of 18-34 against teams with a winning record this season.

Prediction: Phillies in three.

Braves vs. Giants

The Braves led the NL East for the majority of the season until the Phillies caught fire and overtook them in September. Their best pitcher, Tim Hudson, will only pitch one game in the division series because he was needed to start the season finale in order to clinch a playoff birth.

Inexperience will play a factor for Atlanta. Their best hitter, rookie Jason Heyward, is a future star who is playing in his first career post season.

The Giants took advantage of a Padres late season collapse and captured the NL West on the season's final day. Rookie catcher Buster Posey has breathed life into the Giants offense down the stretch and will be a player to watch in the series.

San Francisco's Tim Lincecum led the league in strikeouts for three straight seasons. He leads a pitching staff that includes Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. The Giants pitching staff made up for the team's lack of offense this season to get San Francisco into the playoffs.

Prediction: Giants in five


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