While I was dead on correct with my National League predictions from just under a month ago, I take my stab at the Divisional round of the playoffs. So here we go. Enjoy and let me know what you think…e-mail [email protected]
Brewers vs. Phillies. The Brewers are riding on their emotions of the season ending win against Chicago to get them into the Wild Card, their first post-season since they lost to St. Louis in the 1982 World Series.
22 year old Yovani Gallardo will start game one for the Brewers while he goes up against Cole Hamels of the Phillies. This series will come down to game one. Gallardo was injured earlier this year and has only pitched in four games, but his stuff is good. The Phillies need to get to him early. Hamels, leads the Phils with a 3.01 ERA, but against the Brewers it’s a lofty 4.41.
Hamels needs to pitch well and bounce back from a tough outing in last year’s divisional round against Colorado and I think he will. Watch for the free swinging Brewers to be aggressive and get fooled by Hamels’ nasty changeup.
Game two features CC Sabathia and he’s dominated National League hitters. The guys a horse, you can pitch him on three days rest the entire post-season and he’ll be alright. The one knock against CC in the NL? He’s only made four starts against playoff teams and the Brewers lost two of those, both against the Cubs. He’s faced Cincinnati four times, Pittsburgh and San Diego three times, and Washington and Atlanta, along with San Francisco once. He’s never faced Philly…it will be interesting to see how he fares against the Phillies, but I expect him to dominate Missouri State alum Ryan Howard.
Game three back in Milwaukee, will have Jamie Moyer pitching for the Phillies. He’s a great in-season pitcher who will chew up innings, but come post-season dominating pitchers tend to fare better and I think Moyer will get eaten up.
Down two games to one, the Phillies will counter with Hamels in game four, forcing a game five, in which CC will out pitch Brett Myers.
My pick: Brewers in five
Cubs vs. Dodgers. They always say, good pitching beats good hitting in the playoffs and I believe this will be the case again. The Dodgers have the best ERA in the National League, but you can’t knock the Cubs starting pitching and I think they will reign supreme.
The key again is game one. Ryan Dempster (17 wins) has been lights out at home, but Derek Lowe has dominated the Cubs. He’s a sinker ball pitcher and has always done well against Cub power hitters. It’s important for Chicago to come out and grab game one, because they have Carlos Zambrano going in game two and after his no-hitter against a jet lag Houston Astros team, he’s been knocked around. Zambrano proved against Arizona he can control his emotions when it matters, but does Big Z have the right "ztuff" to get past the Dodgers?
The Cubs will bring Rich Harden and Ted Lilly in for games three and four. Harden is 5-1 since his trade from Oakland and won’t give the Cubs more than five innings and Hiroki Kuroda has dominated the Cubs shutting them out and then losing a tough 1-0 game.
Game four will hinge on whether the Cubs are up 2-1 or down. If they’re up, expect Lilly to dominate and finish off the Dodgers. If they’re down expect Lilly’s emotions to get the best of him (like he did in Arizona when he threw his glove to the ground after giving up a home run) and there will be a game five in Chicago.
However, if Dempster outpitches Lowe in game one, which I think he will. Zambrano should beat Chad Billingsley, Kuroda wins game three, Lilly will finish the Dodgers off. Although, Manny being Manny with a 368 power gap at Wrigley could be interesting…watch Manny manuever around the "well" in left field in Chicago.
My pick: Cubs in four