Season 9 Playoff Projections - 2nd RoundWelcome to the 2nd round of playoffs for Season 9. After watching 4 tight series, this round will/should feature a couple of blow-outs and two tight series.
#1. Detroit vs #12. Chicago White Sox
Two years ago in this column, I predicted that Detroit would win the World Series this year, I am saying that this will be the year. Awesome job by Chicago for taking down San Francisco, but they do not have the horses to upset Detroit. Offensively these teams are close in everything except long balls. The team batting averages and OPS are .255/.785 & .251/.713, with the difference coming in Home Runs, where Detroit has hit twice as many. They both have 3 players who lead the way offensively. CWS is paced by SS Gurriel who is hitting .317/.873 (23 HR/87 RBI) and their two 3B, Beard .293/.844 and Chernix .254/.749 with (21 HR/122 RBI). All three of those players struggled in the first round with 0 HR's and 0 RBI's. Detroit counters with 3B Medlin .298/.936 (28 HR/86RBI), 2B Neumann .319/1.002 (36 HR/100RBI) and LF Lewis .283/.940 (47 HR/127 RBI).
Detroit has 3 dominant starters, each having won 20 games this season and all are well rested. SP Bucannon (20-5) .85 WHIP, SP Valerio (20-6) .094 WHIP and 21 CG's and SP Wertz (21-8) 1.11 WHIP and also 21 CG's. Detroit primarily uses a couple of relievers with good numbers, RP Pagan (3-3 9 saves) and RP Lynch (6-3 8 saves), but with 51 CG's, the Detroit bullpen has only thrown 16% of the total innings pitched this season. Chicago is paced by a couple of Cy Young candidates in SP Hazelton (17-9) .89 WHIP and 8 CG's and SP Moxcey (18-7) 1.16 WHIP. Their bullpen is anchored by 2 LH relievers, Dawson (4-5 22 saves) and Espinar (6-5 and 14 saves). Chicago only got 1 loss out of theit 2 best starters against SFG, and will need someone to step up, to have a chance in this series.
I am predicting Detroit to advance in 3 games, but Chicago was the only team I missed winning in the 1st round, maybe that is some type of mojo for them....
#4. Colorado vs #6. Baltimore
This should truly be an offensive series, as both Baltimore and Colorado are among the upper echelons in power and average. Baltimore has the 3rd highest BA and 6th highest OPS @ .263/.772 while Colorado has the 5th highest BA and 5th highest OPS @ .256/.783. Baltimore has a potent offense led by their OF of Kunz .355/.967 and 22 triples, Hudgins .299/.840 (20 HR/90 RBI) and Price .275/.852 (28 HR/115 RBI) with 3b Ball and 2B Owens hitting over .250. Colorado counters with power at every position. 2B Upchurch .336/.978 (31 HR/91RBI), OF Williams .268/.919 (47 HR/ 130 RBI), C Krieger .294/.806 (25 HR/106 RBI) and SS Lindor .230/.746 (28 HR/105 RBI) are the main bats for the Rockies. Baltimore is the rare team who has all 5 starters with more wins than losses. Coleman (17-8) and Waller (16-12) pace the starters and RP Sowers (6-2 15 saves) Day (7-9 11 saves) and Monaghan (7-3 7 saves) make up a strong relief core. Colorado does not have the staff to match Baltimore. SP Castillo (18-6), Berrios (19-9) and Kluber (9-12) are the primary starters, with RP Scarlata (3-0 10 saves) and RP LeClerc (8-5 9 saves) lead the bullpen.
I will be looking to see how Baltimore hits in the Rockies power dome, since the numbers are similiar. Colorado has struggled in previous playoff series.
Based on Baltimore having the better pitching staff, I am going with a mild upset of Baltimore advancing in 5 games.
#3. Arizona vs #7. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay continues their 1st playoff appearance against a tougher opponent in Arizona. Arizona has solid power numbers, but is on the low end of average. They are led by 2B Katz .342/.911 (13 HR/64 RBI), OF Scott .279/.839 (26 HR/84 RBI), UT O'Connell .229/.751 (35 HR/110 RBI) and 1B Macklin .226/.829 (52 HR/107 RBI). Tampa Bay is even worse, with an .238 Batting Average and an OPS under .700. Their production also comes through 3 players, 1B Arriaga .309/.846 (16 HR/67 RBI), DH Littles .292/.811 and UT Deutsch .271/.701. They have noone else hitting .240 or .700.
Pitching is a little different, Arizona is led by SP Yamaoka (17-7) .98 WHIP, 10 CG's, SP Pace (16-10) 1.18 WHIP and 13 CG's and SP Fullmer (16-8) 1.23 WHIP, but their strength is their underrated bullpen where they have 3 arms that can shut you down. RP Martes (12-4 18 saves), RP Diaz (7-3 8 saves) and RP Tuiuailala (2-2 9 saves) who all have a WHIP of under .92. Tampa Bay has a league best 2.93 ERA with a WHIP of 1.11. Tampa Bay has a strong quartet of young starters, Faria (12-12 1.05), Canzoneri (11-9 1.17), Strathmann (18-6 1.17) and Schwartz (17-9 1.11) who will provide 6 -7 innings of solid work. They then turn the game over to RP Green (11-9 11 saves), RP Grandy (7-2 15 saves) and RP Bennett (6-4 18 saves).
In another upset, I am going with Tampa Bay to continue their run in 5 games. I like their staff, and if they can score 20 runs in this series then they will advance.
#2. Cleveland vs #8. London
This is the battle of the best "worst" team in the league against SP Brady and the London Lions who may turn out to be the worst “best” team in the league who advances to round 2 for the first time. Cleveland is loaded as they have 6 regulars who hit over .267/.750, and 7 players who have hit 10+ HR and 60+ RBI's. They are led by 2 MVP candidates in 2B Albies .332/1.007 (30 HR/99 RBI), LF Gonzalez .327/1.037 (31 HR/89 RBI) and controversial pick-up 1B Robertson .309/.943 (29 HR/102). London counters with SS Bishop .319/.881 (18/65), LF Biggerstaff .304/.858 (20/93) and LF Manu .249/.719 (18/97), but will be severly outgunned in this series.
The pitching staffs are similar also with both teams having strong starters and very strong group of relievers. I expect SP Brady (17-8 .84 WHIP) and One of Cleveland ‘s top pitchers to battle each other in 2 games, with the winner of those two games to decide the series. The relievers should get plenty of work in the other games. If I had a big sets of kohunnas I would take London to upset Cleveland, but with the leagues best hitting team and the group of relievers in RP Diaz, Van Zyl and RP Justice, I see Cleveland advancing to the next round in 4 games.