The pressure is heating up for our final eight teams and for this writer. After correctly predicting three series and the last one for having a "Little" (who got injured) difference, it's time to choose my team to win...I mean, time to adequately evaluate the second round of action.
Las Vegas (107-55) v. New York (93-69)
Season Series: Las Vegas 6-4
Regular Season BA: Las Vegas - .281 New York - .264
Regular Season ERA: Las Vegas - 4.38 New York - 4.46
Las Vegas comes into this series with the best record in the American League, New York arrives in Nevada with momentum. The Hokies are hoping to become the Munson World's Cinderella squad despite being last year's defending AL champions. With performances like Albert Sardinha's Game Two shutout with 8 strikeouts, New York has a lot going for them. The Viagras, however, have Jimmie Ramirez (21-7, 3.16-1.23) and 8 players with over 20 home runs led by Troy Hansen (.278 48-142).
Prediction: Las Vegas bats and pitches .40 points worse at home than they do away. New York pitches and plays better on the road as well. It looks as though home-field advantage doesn't work favorably for the Viagras. But if the Viagras can win one at home, they can try to win the series in New York where the stats DO favor them. Ramirez should be up to the challenge in game one. Las Vegas in 4.
New Orleans (102-60) v. Madison (101-61)
Season Series: New Orleans 6-4
Regular Season BA: New Orleans - .279 Madison - .294
Regular Season ERA: New Orleans - 4.30 Madison - 5.13
In the first round, the bash brothers of Madison were like an overgrown kid with three arms: awkward yet still effectively scary. Andre Kydd lived up to expectations with a .357 average while Van Hatten only managed a measly .067. With a crucial series against the Ragin' Cajuns, everyone from the Mud Holes is going to have to contribute. Especially if they have to go up against New Orleans' underrated lineup who boast four players with similar numbers to Harvey Glaus' .288 avg, 36 HR and 105 RBI. Danny Davies (22-5, 3.42-1.15) is looking forward to backing this stellar lineup with solid pitching and a few victories in what should be a hard-fought series.
Prediction: Madison fans have every reason to be excited. The Mud Holes climbed out from the cellar, made a large amount of trades just before the deadline, and are now sitting seven wins away from a World Series trip. There's that one thing though...what was it called? Oh yeah - PITCHING! A 6.02 ERA at home is not going to cut it. New Orleans is too balanced and hungry after last year's injury fiasco to let this series slide out of control. The Big Easy in 4.
San Francisco (111-51) v. Dover (94-68)
Season Series: San Francisco 6-4
Regular Season BA: San Francisco - .279 Dover - .277
Regular Season ERA: San Francisco - 3.55 Dover - 4.09
Two candidates for the MVP and two candidates for the Rookie of the Year Award and...no Cy Young candidacy for Donaldo Lunar? Lunar's sophomore slump (18-3, 2.97-1.15) would be a welcome addition to any ball club and especially if that included Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Gordon who each have an average over .300 and have hit 40 HRs. The reigning World Champions have a long and tough road ahead of them if they hope to repeat. The Derelicts managed to pull off a sensational win on the road in Game Five to advance to the Second Round. But if they want to get past the Gothams, they'll have to do better than a .237 team average.
Prediction: Dover is a consistent team; San Francisco is consistently better...in pitching. Both clubs' averages are nearly identical with the major difference being the Gothams ML-leading 3.55 ERA. If the Derelicts need to win, they'll have to create some hits in pitcher-friendly San Francisco. They'll also need Newhouser, who has a 2.57 ERA in 2 post-season starts, to produce. The problem is that the Gothams are better than they were last season, which was pretty damn good. Frisco in 3.
Buffalo (98-64) v. Little Rock (95-67)
Season Series: Tied 5-5
Regular Season BA: Buffalo - .264 Little Rock - .280
Regular Season ERA: Buffalo - 3.56 Little Rock - 4.50
It's a classic pitching versus hitting matchup. Or is it? Buffalo has their entire pitching staff under a 4.0 ERA except for 3. Ten pitchers have a WHIP under 1.3. Little Rock is the best hitting team left in the NL while they averaged .306 in the first series against Austin. The problem for the Ridge Runners is that the Snappers have pitching weapons of their own: Bucky Whitehead (1-1, 2.08-1.38 in post-season) and Corey Mantei (1-0, 1.29-0.21 in post-season). Buffalo has one of the worst lineups in the league and a .254 average at home has left fans very disappointed over the season.
Prediction: It's not pitching v. hitting but team pitching v. superstar pitching. Buffalo works together as a unit while Little Rock is led by their Cy Young candidate and #2 phenom. Buffalo's unit works extremely well over the course of a season. In a five-game series, the Snappers can have both of those pitchers pitch twice. Little Rock in 4.