Thursday, October 11, 2007
Good Morning! Well, I went two for four with my League Division Series predictions. A .500 average isn't so bad, right? Anyway, today I will be using the same format to try to predict what will happen during the National League Championship Series. This is a matchup of a couple of very young teams. The Colorado Rockies have won something like 143 out of their last 144 games (not quite accurate, but you get the point). They are led by veteran Todd Helton and a cast of very talented hitters like arguably-NL MVP Matt Holliday, arguably Rookie of the Year Troy Tulowitski, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe. Kaz Matsui shined during the divisional series. Pitching is a question mark for the Rockies, but not so much with Game 1 starter Jeff Francis. Beyond him, they have a very young, very talented couple of starters in Ubaldo Jiminez and Franklyn Morales. The Diamondbacks are actually almost the opposite. They are led by a veteran group of starting pitchers that include 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb and veterans Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez. The offense boasts an incredibly underrated Chris Young. Stephen Drew is hitting in the playoffs (so far) like many thought he would hit all year. Justin Upton is playing terrific so far in his opportunities.
This series should be tremendous for viewing. I truly am looking forward to it. The reality is that I really don't care who wins. When that is the case, I hope that the series goes to seven games and that each game is very competitive. Both teams have had plenty of rest. Maybe that is good, or maybe it slowed down each team's momentum. I guess we will find out starting tonight. But what is baseball and the playoffs without some predictions? (Note - the arrows open to the player with the advantage)
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (Wild Card)
|C||Chris Snyder/Miguel Montero||=||Yorvit Torrealba||Based on the names involved here, this position shouldn't have much of an impact. Which means, one of them could be.|
|1B||Tony Clark/Connor Jackson||<||Todd Helton||This isn't a huge advantage because the D-Backs combo is quite productive, but I want Helton to do well.|
|2B||Augie Ojeda||<||Kaz Matsui||The former Twin is doing a nice job for the D-Backs. He doesn't do anything well, but he doesn't hurt them either. Matsui had a great DS and is greatly underrated since moving to the Rockies.|
|3B||Mark Reynolds||<||Garrett Atkins||Reynolds hits the ball hard when he makes contact! Atkins is a very good hitter all-around.|
|SS||Stephen Drew||<||Troy Tulowitski||This is really a very good matchup of two guys with great potential to be great shortstops for a long time! Right now, Tulo is a step ahead and his defense is as good as anyone's!|
|LF||Eric Byrnes||<||Matt Holliday||After what Eric Byrnes has done this year, and really the last few years, he shouldn't take a backseat to many OF in baseball... Matt Holliday is one though.|
|CF||Chris Young||>>||Ryan Spilborghs/Cory Sullivan/Willy Taveras?||Will Willy play? Either way, Chris Young gets the advantage, but Taveras could really help the Rox, specifically defensively.|
|RF||Justin Upton/Jeff Salazar||<||Brad Hawpe||Upton may be the best player in baseball... in two years, and he impressed me in the division series. But right now, Hawpe has the advantage, just not by much.|
|G1 SP||Brandon Webb||>||Jeff Francis||Francis was impressive against those Phillies lefties. But again, Webb is as good as it gets. The thing is that Webb has to pitch against the Rockies. Francis gets to pitch against the D-Backs, hence there is only a one-arrow difference.|
|G2 SP||Doug Davis||=||Ubaldo Jimenez||Jimenez is going to be great in his career. Davis has been and will be solid in his career. Who will be better in this game? The veteran, or the rookie? The savvy, or the stuff?|
|G3 SP||Livan Hernandez||=||Franklyn Morales||see previous entry... and then remember that you will hear about how Livan is a big game pitcher because of how well he pitched in the playoffs a bunch of years ago.|
|G4 SP||Micah Owings||>||Aaron Cook||Aaron Cook is like Doug Davis, just less strikeouts and walks. Owings is a rookie who, like Livan, can help himself a lot with his bat!|
|G5 SP||Brandon Webb||>||Jeff Francis||Will Webb pitch Game 4 with Owings pinch hitting and ready for long-relief?|
|G6SP||Doug Davis||=||Ubaldo Jimenez||Will Clint Hurdle trust these two pitchers who were both in the minor leagues in June...|
|G7SP||Livan Hernandez||=||Franklyn Morales||to pitch Games 6 and 7? Seems like strange things happen as the playoff series extends to late games.|
|Bullpen||Lyons/Slaten/Pena||>||Fuentes/Herges/Hawkins||The Rockies bullpen is good. The Diamondbacks bullpen is great!|
|Closer||Jose Valverde||=||Manny Corpas||These two are so similar in terms of stuff. Valverde has a more overall experience, but both pitched extensively in the playoffs.|
OK, as you can see, my rankings show that neither team really has an advantage. In terms of hitters, the Rockies have a 6-2 advantage. But when it comes to pitching, the Diamondbacks grab a 4-0 advantage. We hear that pitching is what wins in the playoffs, right? By that, I should be predicting Arizona to win the series. But really, the main times that the Diamondbacks have an advantage is when Brandon Webb is pitching. He could pitch Games 1, 4 and 7, but that takes away some of his advantage by being used so frequently. In reality, it is possible he will only pitch twice. Can the Diamondbacks other pitchers hold down the Rockies lineup? I don't think so, and that I why I will project Rockies in six games.
What do you think of my rankings and my positions? Get your predictions here for the NLCS. Let's see how 'smart' we can look!
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