Here are my predictions for the 2014 ALDS and NLDS series:
The Orioles are a good team and have a flare for the dramatic, and also seem to like giving the middle finger to any sort of baseball logic and sense. However, I do not think they can beat the Tigers rotation. Their only shot will be to get to the soft underbelly that is the Detroit bullpen. However, it’s entirely possible that the Tigers’ won’t give them that chance. Tigers in 4.
The Royals/Angels series is a bit less clear, partly because I haven’t seen them “live” as much as I’ve seen the O’s and Tigers, but also because they are very different teams (while the Orioles and Tigers have more-or-less the same approach as each other). The Royals, as we saw during the Wild Card game, are an old-style team that loves to bunt and steal, while relying on pitching to try and make up for all the times that might fail (the Royals actually were one of the worst teams in the league in certain offensive categories this season). The Angels are more of a standard modern team at the plate, with a big-name lineup that was the league’s most productive offense, led, of course, by Mike Trout. Their pitching, however, is nowhere near as big-name as their lineup. With such different teams going at each other, and with strengths going against strengths, this could be anyone’s series. That said, I think the Angels are the better overall team, so I think they will win it. Angels in 4.
The Cardinals/Dodgers matchup is one that has happened many times before- they are two of the flagship teams of baseball and stalwarts of the National League. They met last year in the NLCS and the Cardinals won in 6, but I think this time it’ll be different. The Cardinals no longer have postseason man-god Carlos Beltran, Michael Wacha is still recovering from injury (although certainly the Cardinals maintain a very deep rotation) and Yadier Molina isn’t fully healthy either. The Dodgers, meanwhile, now are another year wiser and experienced, and, oh, right, have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke all nice and lined up to pitch in order. If not for the fact Hyun-Jin Ryu is going to be coming off an injury and that Dan Haren has long had trouble against the Cardinals, the starting rotation situation for the Dodgers would look almost as good as Detroit’s looks like against the Orioles.
While the Cardinals do have the advantage in bullpen, experience and overall team depth, all of that might mean diddly-squat, though, because this is a best-of-five series and to win the Cardinals will likely have to win at least two games against the 1-2 punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (there are rumors that Don Mattingley will try to go with a 3-man rotation). I don’t think they can, even with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. Dodgers in 5.
The Nationals hold a edge against the Giants because of the Wild Card game. Because the Giants had to play that, they probably won’t be able to have Bumgarner pitch until Game 3. Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson, of course, are also perfectly good (and Ryan Vogelsong has his moments), but they aren’t Bumgarner. The Nationals, meanwhile, will have Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. So, advantage in the rotation. Nationals also hold the advantage in offense, with a deeper lineup that features two players (Denard Span and Jayson Werth) who were top-10 in batting average in the NL this season and with Bryce Harper having heated up after the All-Star Break and Adam LaRoche. While you can never count out Buster Posey and the rest of the Giants, I feel like the Nationals will win in 4.
So, there you go.