Phillies-Reds

This matchup is very simple to me, I don’t think it will be much of a series. Let’s see, you have the defending two-time National League champs going against a Reds team that is making its first postseason appearance since 1995. Happy to be there versus a NL powerhouse at the moment. Not to mention Phillies ace Roy Halladay will be making his first postseason appearance, and I expect for him to showcase his best stuff on the game’s top stage. Volquez, Cueto and Arroyo just don’t have enough to match Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt (named H20) in a five-game series. Phillies win this series, I’ll even call a sweep behind the stellar pitching of H20.

Giants-Braves

The Giants moved out of the Barry Bonds era to clinch the NL West title for the first time in forever without Bonds all thanks to a potent starting rotation. Pitching is paramount especially in the playoffs, and I think the Giants are the only NL team that can match the Phillies head to head with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. They’ve been hot as of late too, that included a ridiculous 1.85 ERA in the month of September.

The Giants question mark in spring training was the offense, did they have enough to help out the pitching? Well, this team has certainly gotten better with the free agent signing of Pat Burrell along with rookie Buster Posey coming up and looking like a star in the making in the second half of the year. Posey hit .305/.357/.505 and provided some much-needed pop with 18 homers and 67 RBIs in just 108 games. Not too bad for a rook. After being dumped by the Rays in May, Burrell picked up with the Giants and belted 18 home runs in 96 games in the Bay area. Throw in a very surprising year from Aubrey Huff (.290/.385/.505, 26 HR) and this offense is suddenly a decent offense, 100 times better than it was on Opening Day.

Obviously, I like the Giants in this series. They have the better pitching, they have home field and the Braves have been sputtering the past couple of months. Atlanta held a three game lead on the Phillies on the first of September, but put together a lackluster month to fall way behind the Phils before scraping together a win in the final day to avoid possibly missing the playoffs altogether. The Braves went 13-14 in September while hitting just .247 with 17 total homers through September and October. They’re limping into the playoffs right now, and the Giants are rolling. I like the Giants in 4.

Yankees-Twins

The defending world champs are heading on the road to Minnesota, which will see its first outdoor postseason game in the Twin Cities since 1970. We’ve seen this before in 2009, 2004 and 2003 with the Yankees and Twins meeting in the first round and the Twins just looking like they were too busy gawking at the pinstripes across the field. This time the Twins have home field advantage…will it matter?

The Twins have a very good team. They used a 48-26 second half to run away with the AL Central, which was a division predicted to go down the wire. But besides Francisco Liriano as their ace, they’ve enjoyed stellar seasons from Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey and a slew on others, but come on who sees Pavano having a good postseason? On the hitting side of things, the Twins received a huge blow today when they learned Justin Morneau will miss the entire playoffs. Once again, Morneau is not there for the Twins when it matters the most. I just don’t see this team with Pavano and Duensing having enough to shut down the veteran team of the Yankees. New York in 4.

Rays-Rangers

This is the premier series of the first round as the Rays take on a Rangers team that is making only its first postseason appearance since 1999. Texas has a dangerous team too with Josh Hamilton, who had a silly year (.359/.411/.633) along with the pitching tandem of Cliff Lee (acquired midseason from Seattle) and CJ Wilson. Lee was pretty much lights out last year in the playoffs for the Phillies, so if he matches that performance again the Rangers could easily pull off an upset in the short five-game series.

Overall, I like the Rays to win it all this year. David Price has become the legitimate ace for Tampa (19-6, 2.72), Evan Longoria is a phenom, Carl Crawford can do it all and has the knack for making plays on the big stage (i.e., All-Star game). Plus, this team may be young, but they have the postseason experience already from their WS appearance two years ago. I just think it’s the Rays time for all of this young talent to come through and win the ultimate prize. But if there’s one team and series that worries me if I’m the Rays, it’s this Texas series. Anything can happen in a five-game series with one hot pitcher and Lee is the one that could do it for the Rangers. I’ll take Rays in 5, but it should be a fun series to watch which kicks off first in just a couple of hours.

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