It is, as I have noted before, almost impossible to predict October. Who would have thought, for example, that Derek Jeter would get hurt, that Robinson Cano would enter a record-breaking slump, or that the Reds would lose three straight at home to the Giants to end their season.
However, already we are getting some indication of how the rest of the two series might go.
ALCS: The Yankees are in big trouble. Very, very, big trouble. They can’t hit to save their lives, the one guy they had who was hitting (Jeter) is down for the count, they lost the first two games of the series at home. No team has ever come back from an 0-2 deficit in the Best-of-7 LCS when those two losses came at home. And, what’s more, there odds of winning game 3 must be considered perilously low, as they will be facing Justin Verlander. Perhaps they would have a good chance in Game 3 had they been able to run out C.C. Sabathia against him, but instead they will be sending out Phil Hughes. Hughes is hardly a scrub, but no sane man would say they’d want him on the mound instead of Verlander, especially in Comerica Park, which favors the pitcher.
With that in mind, one would probably want to say that the Tigers are in the driver’s seat. However, that would probably be overestimating things. You see, although it looks like the Tigers have this series in the bag, that isn’t necessarily true. If Verlander has a bad day (or Hughes has an unusually great day), they could very well lose tomorrow’s Game 3. They would then be facing C.C. Sabathia. Admittedly, the Tigers would be sending out Max Scherzer, who, while no Sabathia, would definitely have good odds of being able to meet and defeat the Yankees than Phil Hughes is to do the same against Verlander and the Tigers.
Even if the Yankees were to somehow win the next two games though, I would have to say the advantage still would preside with the Tigers. The reason, much like the reason they should be considered heavily favored tomorrow, lies with Verlander. Verlander would be pitching any Game 7… and Sabathia wouldn’t (at least, not on normal rest).
NLCS: This series has only gone one game, and given how nuts last night’s game was, as well as the many twists and turns the NLDSes (NLDSii?) were, it may seem folly to predict what may still lie in store. One thing is for certain though: the Giants would be greatly helped if they win tonight. As I said earlier, losing the first two games at home in a LCS series is almost a death sentence, although admittedly the Giants were able to survive a similar situation in the NLDS. The result tonight is extremely up in the air: on paper, one would think having Ryan Vogelsong on the mound would put one in a better position than Chris Carpenter, who although the better pitcher only had limited playing time this year due to injury (it is a bit of a miracle that he is playing at all right now). Carpenter, though, has done very well in the postseason so far, throwing 5.2 in his NLDS start without giving up a earned-run. Still,
Past tonight and Game 3 (when Matt Cain will presumably start), though, the Giants are facing a somewhat chaotic pitching situation. Madison Bumgarner has been dreadful this October so far, Barry Zito struggled greatly in his NLDS start, and Tim Lincecum was so dreadful during the later parts of this season (after seemingly recovering from first-half struggles) that he’s been used from the bullpen in the postseason. Although, admittedly, Lincecum has done very well out of the bullpen, so maybe he deserves another shot at starting this year. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have a relatively stable starting pitching staff, and they have Carlos Beltran and David Freese, players who have always (and are) stepped up in October.
So, come to think of it, maybe it’s more clear that I thought that it’s ADVANTAGE: CARDINALS.
The Yankees have a way of doing the unexpected, but I agree–this would be nothing short of a miracle. But they’ve had some of those, too.