And then there were two. Two teams that were the best in their leagues. Two teams filled with compelling, heartfelt stories of perseverance. Two teams so plucky and exciting they are sure to captivate the country, nay, the world as they compete for the World Series championship.
Bullshit. It’s the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Texas Rangers.
No one outside of Missouri and Dallas gives a crap about these teams. But here’s who I think will win.
Game 1 pairs Texas’ C.J. Wilson with St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter. Wilson had the better regular season, winning five more games, striking out 15 more batters and posting an ERA a half-run lower. To help him out, only four Cardinals have ever faced him. Comeback Player of the Year Lance Berkman has seen Wilson the most with 18 appearances, but he’s batted just .214. No Cardinal has homered off Wilson, and such inexperience will mean the Cardinals will have to be dependent on game film more than personal experience.
While Texas’ Mike Napoli is the only Ranger to ever homer off Carpenter, seven have at-least faced him. That might give Texas a slight offensive advantage. They’ve also had the slightly stronger bullpen, so I’m giving Game 1 to Texas in a tight one on the road.
After a final two weeks of baseball so wild and crazy Nickelodeon would want to make a game show out of it, we’re finally down to eight teams. Structurally flawed teams like the Red Sox and Braves petered out, while teams built around strong starting pitching and consistent offense have survived. Starting Friday, four best-of-five divisional series will begin. On the line: the chance for an AL or NL pennant. Who’s moving on and who’s moving home? Here’s my take (home-field team first).
New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander will win the Cy Young and has won the AL’s pitching triple crown, but he won’t be starting at home: he’ll be starting at Yankee Stadium, where he’s 0-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts. Verlander’s never really dominated the Yankees. CC Sabathia, meanwhile, will make both his starts at home, where he’s 26-7. Sabathia beats Verlander in Game 1 in front of a fired-up Yankees stadium.
Sabathia will start Game 4 on short rest while Verlander would start Game 5 on regular rest. Sabathia can probably beat Rick Porcello – a B+ pitcher (14-9, 4.75 ERA) at best – in Game 4. The Yankees are a statistically stronger and much faster lineup (almost 100 more stolen bases than the Tigers). Combined with the better bullpen, the Yankees have the edge in close games.
With the Yankees’ three-man rotation, rookie Ivan Nova will have to pitch twice, including once on the road. Nova has proven he’s the real deal this season, but there’s no way Verlander loses twice. Which means that to beat the Yankees, the Tigers need Doug Fister (11-13, 2.58 ERA) to beat Nova in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. I don’t see it happening. Fister has a 6.00 ERA against the Yankees, and he’s never won at Yankee Stadium.
Max Scherzer could very easily beat slow-throwing, 34-year old Freddy Garcia in Game 3 at Comerica Park, but it’s won’t be enough. Verlander might be the best pitcher in the majors, but the Yankees’ rotation runs much deeper. Prediction: Yankees in 4.