Sunday, March 16, 2008

NL Division Play-In Series Previews

See earlier post for AL Previews.

*Stat totals current as of game 160 of 162 of the regular season*

St. Louis v. Buffalo
Season series: St. Louis 7-3
Team BA: St. Louis - .278 Buffalo - .257
Team ERA: St. Louis - 4.27 Buffalo - 3.78

Four words: Jeremy Anderson is back. In half a season, he had a .374 avg 27HR and 77RBIs. Does Buffalo have a shot? Despite not having an all-star out of the rotation, the team ERA is among the best in the majors, thanks largely to Cy Young and Fireman of the Year candidate Branch Telgheder(47 saves, 1.19ERA 0.78WHIP). However, the Ridge Runners low ERA is coupled with the lowest batting average out of postseason teams. Steven Bailey(.280 38HR-97RBI) for Buffalo and Pascual Vega(22-9, 4.01ERA 1.26WHIP) for St. Louis are the key players to watch.

Prediction: It's a classic pitching versus hitting duel. Had St. Louis not gotten Anderson back, this would've been a harder choice. St. Louis has to jump out to a large lead early or else they could be in trouble. The more times they don't have to see Telgheder, the better. St. Louis in 4

Little Rock v. Dover
Season series: Little Rock 7-3
Team BA: Little Rock - .274 Dover - .290
Team ERA: Little Rock - 4.02 Dover - 4.18

What do you get for winning 95 games and the division? Facing the best lineup in the majors in the first round. That is Little Rock's challenge as they try to look past Bucky Whitehead's season-ending injury and hope that the James' can lead the Snappers into the next round. Marino and Chris James, combined, have 81 HR and 273 RBIs. Not too shabby, including both of their above-.300 averages. In response, Dover has a plethora of batters that can match those two, namely, Gus Shigetoshi(.356 38HR-106RBI) and Henry Daniels(.341 32HR-107RBI). The Derelicts also have Jeremy Newhouser(14-8, 3.90ERA 1.21WHIP) who has been a welcome addition to the offensive machine. For the Snappers, Corey Mantei has posted Cy Young-type numbers - 21 wins, 2.57 ERA and 1.07 WHIP - and looks to take at least two games from Dover's lineup.

Prediction: Even though Dover is known as an offense-oriented team, they have solid pitching as well (including a 3.99 ERA mark on the road). Both teams actually play better away from home which should make for an interesting series. Despite the offensive assault Dover is ready to dish out, Mantei is a monster. In a five-game series, he can be deadly. Little Rock looks to gather 2 wins via his pitching and just one more, somehow, some way. If Whitehead wasn't injured, this team would be an LCS and WS contender. Without, they'll struggle to survive. Little Rock in 5 games

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