Friday, October 11, 2013

ALCS and NLCS Predictions: I'm Perfect And Hateful

Won't Be A Problem
How did you do with your ALDS and NLDS predictions? I went 4-0 by picking exactly what I didn't want to see happen, which more or less went down in spades. Now, I get four more weeks of baseball with teams and players I don't like or have any fantasy rooting interest for, but there is still money to be made. And yes, there will be money made...

NLCS: LOS ANGELES over St. Louis

Just about every year, St. Louis makes it to the postseason, and just about every year, the national media tries to see who can fellate the fan base the most. Why, it's so American! In that no one actually lives in the city where the team plays, since the city where the team plays is kind of a dirty dystopia of capital flight and segregation. And the fans there! So knowledgeable, in that they know to mark out huge for gritbags and accept, with good grace, when a player gets too big for his contractual britches and has to be hustled out of town. Why, they can't afford such foolishness! They barely draw 3.5 million people a year while struggling with a $100+ million payroll, and never seem to lose anyone that would, you know, hurt to lose. At least any more than the next guy they bring in.

Now, I don't actually dislike the Cardinals. One can admire a tank for its, well, tankness and remarkable utility when things need blowin' up. But you generally don't root for them.

Which leads us to the very best tank that an ungodly amount of money could buy, your resurgent Los Angeles Dodgers. Having bought their way into contention through unloading deals with Miami and Boston, they've got three of the five top hitters in the DS round, and while Jose Uribe's contract with Satan looks like it might run out at any time, Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzales aren't exactly chopped liver. St. Louis outlived Pittsburgh with dominant starting pitching, and while Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright aren't exactly weak sauce, they aren't quite up to the level of Kershaw and Zach Greinke. It also said something that manager Don Mattiingly was so concerned with setting up a World Series run that he went to Kershaw on short rest to close out Atlanta. That worked, and so might another week of moves to get them to the World Series, but if you've got shares in Kershaw, you might want to start thinking about selling high while he's still got an arm.

In this series, I like the Dodgers to break through against the Cardinal bullpen, with guys like Carl Crawford and AJ Ellis to get on for the power sticks and make decent people wretch, while the Cards flail when faced with top-drawer pitching, and the media to make you want to bomb all of Missouri. Dodgers in six, and if I'm very lucky, I'll win another bet without watching much of the actual games. Woo!

ALCS: Boston over Detroit

This honestly isn't sour grapes, since the only thing that it cost me was an extra series of heartbreak and the can't be unseen Tiger Haka on the Coliseum mound, but the worse team won the Oakland-Detroit series. 3B Miguel Cabrera can't move, C Alex Avila can't hit, 1B Prince Fielder is oddly middling in his power, CF Austin Jackson is an absolute mess, and how LF Jhonny Peralta was able to hit with 50 games of PED-induced rust on his bat, I'll never know. Those guys now get to face a Boston pitching staff that, while not exactly dominant, are veterans and able to limit the damage  from the occasional good swings.

Right, but what about the arms? Detroit burned the boats to get to the ALCS, and enter Game One with twin aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander spent. Which means that they get to fly cross-country to start game 1 in Boston in 45 hours with Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister starting off things... and, well, both of those guys got worked by the A's collection of misfit bats. (This assumes, of course, that Detroit doesn't make the desperation move of running Scherzer out there for Game 2, which also isn't going to work, given the short rest and all.) What happens when those guys go against the abattoir that is the Red Sox lineup in Fenway? A 2-0 series hole for those middle three games in Detroit, and Boston needing just one win to get back to Boston with closeout games in pocket.

Detroit can, of course, win this series. Maybe Jackson used up all of his strikeouts in the ALDS, or Cabrera's homer in Game Five shows that he's finally starting to feel like himself again. Their bullpen was better than advertised in the ALDS, and Boston's isn't infallible. But it's hard to see how Boston doesn't take that 2-0 lead, get a game in Detroit, and close things out at home. They've got a vastly better offense, a vastly better defense, and an equivalent or better bullpen. That's an awful lot for two starting pitchers, no matter how good they are, to overcome. Red Sox in six.

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