The 2014 MLB Postseason begins on September 30 with the Oakland Athletics going to Kansas City to face the Royals in the American League one game Wild Card matchup, and the winner will go on to face the Los Angeles Angels. On October 1, the San Francisco Giants will go to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates in the National League one game Wild Card round, with the winner moving on to face the Washington Nationals. After these two games, the regular divisional round of the playoffs will begin on October 2. Here are Thuuz’s predictions for the the 2014 MLB Postseason.
AL Wild Card
Athletics at Royals: Although it’s very early, this could go down as one of the best games in the playoffs. These teams finished with almost identical records, 89-73 for the Royals and 88-74 for the Athletics, and are both coming off of winning two of their last three games of the regular season. Jon Lester (16-11) will be pitching for the Athletics, and while he is very strong, it will be very difficult to match the dominance of the Royals’ James Shields (14-8). While the Royals are strong defensively, they are no match for the high-powered Oakland offense, which is led by third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has 29 home runs, 98 RBIs and a .255 batting average. Watch the A’s squeak out a gritty win in Kansas City.
NL Wild Card
Giants at Pirates: The Pirates are a very good team and finished with a record of 88-74, but they will be no match for the postseason-electric Giants team, who coincidentally finished with the same regular season record. The Pirates will be pitching one of their solid pitchers in Edinson Volquez (13-7), but he will be outshined by Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner (18-10). The Giants last made the playoffs in 2012, and before that in 2010, and both times they won the World Series. The Giants just seem to have a magic about them in October, and their entire team is stepping up right now. Look for Joe Panik, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval to join team offensive leader Buster Posey, who has 22 home runs, 89 RBIs and a .311 batting average in lighting up Volquez. Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen are no match for this time, and the Giants will move on to the divisional round.
AL Divisional Round
Angels vs. Athletics: While this was one of the best series throughout the entire regular season, the Athletics’ performance has noticeably declined. The Angels are the best team in baseball with a record of 98-64. The Angels have been looking forward to another playoff appearance since their last one in 2009, and now they have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, who has 36 home runs, 111 RBIs and a .287 batting average. Look for this incredibly balanced team to shut down the Athletics very quickly and easily. Everywhere you look, the Angels win this matchup. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick are better than Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick. The Angels also win the pitching matchup, with Jered Weaver (18-9) and CJ Wilson (13-10) being better than Scott Kazmir (15-9), Sonny Gray (14-10) and Jon Lester (11-6). Watch the Angels blaze past Oakland on their quest for their first World Series title since 2002.
Orioles vs. Tigers: While the Tigers barely won the AL Central in the last days of the season, they will not be as fortunate in this matchup. The Orioles are 96-66, and the Tigers are just 90-72. This season, the Orioles have been dominant offensively, being led by Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Cruz has 40 home runs, 108 RBIs and a .271 batting average, which is strong compared to the Tigers’ best hitter, Victor Martinez, who has 32 home runs, 103 RBIs and a .335 batting average. While the Tigers also have slugger Miguel Cabrera, their offensive depth lowers dramatically after these two. Wei-Yin Chen (16-6), Bud Norris (15-8) and Chris Tillman (13-6) have all been electric for the Orioles, compared to Max Scherzer (18-5), Justin Verlander (15-12) and Rick Porcello (15-13) for the Tigers. However, the Orioles hitting will propel them to the ALCS.
NL Divisional Round
Nationals vs. Giants: The Nationals are best team in the National League with a record of 96-66, but they will be looking at a major upset against a well-rounded San Francisco squad. The Giants have Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval to lead them offensively, among various other key players, and a stacked bench. The Nationals have Adam Laroche with 26 home runs, 92 RBIs and a .259 batting average, Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon. Overall, the Giants have great depth, and win the offensive matchup slightly. But the Nationals true strength is their pitching, and this is where they outweigh the Giants. Doug Fister (16-6), Tanner Roark (15-10), Stephen Strasburg (14-11), Jordan Zimmerman (14-5) and Gio Gonzalez (10-10) make up one of the absolute best rotations in the MLB. Madison Bumgarner (18-10) is one of the top pitchers in the entire league, and Tim Hudson (9-13), Ryan Vogelsong (8-13), Jake Peavy (6-4) and Yusmeiro Petit (5-5) have proved to be a great rest of the rotation. While the Nationals have better pitching, look for the hot Giants bats to lead them to the NLCS.
Dodgers vs. Cardinals: The Dodgers and the Cardinals are two of the best teams in baseball with records of 94-68 and 90-72, respectively. While the Cardinals have stellar pitching with ace Adam Wainwright (20-9), Lance Lynn (15-10) and Shelby Miller (10-9) all having great seasons. However, the Dodgers have even better pitching. Clayton Kershaw (21-3) is the best pitcher in the MLB, and Zack Greinke (17-8) and Hyu-Jin Ryu (14-7) have been lights-out as well. Additionally, the Dodgers beat the Cards in the offensive category. Adrian Gonzalez has 27 home runs, 116 RBIs, a .276 batting average and Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig have all been fantastic. For the Cardinals, Matt Holliday has 20 home runs, 90 RBIs and a .272 batting average, and Jhonny Peralta, Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter have all been good. The Dodgers have an all-around better team, and should cruise to the NLCS with relative ease.
AL Championship Round
Angels vs. Orioles: The Orioles will be coming off of a tough, long series with the Tigers, whereas the Angels will have easily defeated the Athletics in a short series. While both teams are similar in that they have excellent hitting, pitchings is what is going to win the AL Pennant for the Angels. Weaver and Wilson are all better than Chen, Norris and Tillman. And another factor that cannot be matched is Mike Trout. Trout will be playing in his first playoffs ever, and will be good for numerous home runs, RBIs and great defensive plays. Watch the Angels move on to the World Series in five or six games.
NL Championship Round
Dodgers vs. Giants: The Dodgers won this season series 9-10, but this will not be the case in the NLCS. The Giants are just too hot, and are ready to get payback on the team that stole the NL West from them. In addition to Buster Posey, big bats like Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Morse and Travis Ishikawa will make the Dodgers’ pitchers pay, yes, even Clayton Kershaw. Also, the Dodgers pitchers have looked excellent on paper, but Kershaw is the only real untouchable one. Plus, Bumgarner is incredible, and the Giants pitching staff is really growing well and having great performances. Look for the Giants to win this series in seven games in what will be one of the all-time great postseason series’.
Angels vs. Giants: When the Giants get on a roll in the playoffs, they just don’t stop until they are holding up the World Series trophy. They won in 2010, then in 2012, and are on track to win every other year, and 2014 should be no different. If the Giants can get through the Dodgers pitching staff, the Angels’ pitchers should not be a problem. Look for the Giants offense to only get hotter and hotter as they try to relive their famous postseason magic of recent years. Look for the Giants to be victorious in seven games in a magnificent rematch of the 2002 World Series, in which the Angels won in seven games.