Thursday, March 20, 2008

NL Division Championship Series

After correctly picking all 4 winners and going 50% on the length of each series, this writer feels less confident about the DCS round.

New York v. Little Rock
Season series: Little Rock 6-4
Regular season Team BA: New York - .263 Little Rock - .275
Regular season Team ERA: New York - 3.78 Little Rock - 4.02

In a tense, five-game battle with Dover, Little Rock after using Corey Mantei three times. We'll see if the amount of work he put in will affect him or not. Meanwhile, the Hokies come in, tied for the best record in the National League. A 3.78 ERA helps alongside Denny Young's 16-7 2.52 ERA 1.04 WHIP and Brian Malone's 107 steals. Not necessarily a power-hitting team, the Highlanders like to play it small. Tomas Camacho has also been solid with 23 saves, a 2.23 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Considering that the Snappers batted .224 on the road with Dover, New York could be looking at a nice weekend, resting their bullpen and enjoying their trip to the postseason with some refreshing iced tea. That is, unless the James' have anything to say about the matter.

Prediction: It's tough to lose such a great pitcher as Whitehead. He could've balanced out Mantei's work in the Play-in series and could've shortened the series altogether. The Snappers will have to look for others to step up but New York is too rested and too motivated to let the series get out of hand. If Mantei shows up in Game One and Little Rock loses, there'll be a tough decision over whether or not he plays in Game Three. My thinking is that it will have to be a "yes." New York in 4 games.

San Francisco v. St. Louis
Season series: San Francisco 8-2
Regular season Team BA: San Francisco - 2.70 St. Louis - .278
Regular season Team ERA: San Francisco - 3.45 St. Louis - 4.27

For over half a season, no one could figure out how to hit off Donaldo Lunar(26-4, 1.36 ERA 0.89 WHIP). They still can't but Lunar did manage to get 4 losses. Which is pretty much ridiculous that 4 losses might be seen as a disappointment. With such a low ERA, about even BA, and a commanding season record, the Gothams look like they could put this series behind them with no problem. However, that problem has recently reemerged - Jeremy Anderson. Losing him for over 60 days and still winning 97 times is scary. It'll be interesting to see how the pitching matchups end up going and whether or not Vega and Lunar will battle. However, what may be even more intriguing is the Gothams' lineup. There are some solid players in Foster(.303 41HR-126RBI) and Rodriguez(.275 35HR-139RBI-29SB) and if they can get hot, they could negate St. Louis' lineup.

Prediction: How many times is Lunar going to be used? The Gothams have a great rotation and a solid lineup. St. Louis is probably going to pitch Vega around Lunar. Yet, at the cavernous SBC Park, San Francisco's pitching is unstoppable(3.23 ERA at home) up and down the rotation and out of the bullpen. St. Louis is going to have to overcome that and win one at San Francisco before the series changes sites. But Lunar is too good and will win two if needed. San Francisco in 4

AL Division Championship Series Preview

Syracuse v. Las Vegas
Season Series: 7-3
Regular season Team BA: Syracuse - .286 Las Vegas - .275
Regular season Team ERA: Syracuse - 3.73 Las Vegas - 4.85

This series is going to get interesting when it moves to Las Vegas. Syracuse lost 3 out of 4 games on the road to the Viagras during the season but swept them at home. The goal for the Pirates is to ensure that Dummy Alexander(.307 72HR-184RBI-33SB) gets plenty of chances to hit the ball out of the park. It's been a tough year for the Pirates as the G.M. who started the season resigned after allegations that he wasn't spending time and money on conditioning and trainers at the minor league levels. An investigation by the Munson World Commissioner resulted in recommended resignation and the appointment of an interim G.M. That interim status is no longer temporary. jmuhtoff has paid attention to all aspects of the game and his Pirates have the best record in the Majors. Omar Little(20-4, 2.38 ERA 1.04 WHIP) has been phenomenal on the mound and hopes to give his team a shot at the World Series.

Prediction: In what was an offensive battle, Las Vegas took three straight from New Orleans. That won't be the case this time around. Syracuse has an amazing pitching staff(3.66 ERA at home) and lineup(.304 avg at home) that is hard to beat. Factor in that the Pirates only have had 33 errors this season and there is just no statistical disadvantage for the top-seed. Jimmie Ramirez is going to have to step up if the Viagras are going to have a chance. Syracuse in 3

New York v. Wichita
Season series: Wichita 7-3
Regular season Team BA: New York - .278 Wichita - .268
Regular season Team ERA: New York - 4.26 Wichita - 4.52

Wichita is riding in on momentum after a sweep of Cleveland in the Play-in series. The Shockers now look to take on the other AL North team - the formidable New York Hokies. The Hokies seem to be solid everywhere they go, posting similar winning percentages, averages and ERA at home and on the road. With Ham Davey's 106 stolen bases and Dan Hermansen's 67 home runs coupled with Adam Berkman's 15-5 record, 2.67 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, one would think this New York ball club would have an outright advantage. However, the duo of Lyon and Barkley for the Shockers proved to be dynamite in game one against Cleveland. The pitching staff posted a 3.50 ERA and the lineup batted .292.

Prediction: This series is pretty much up in the air. Neither team has a distinct advantage. Wichita put up massive numbers against Cleveland and they did take 7 games away from New York in the regular season. This game is going to game 5 and even then, to the ninth inning for a decision. Which is where there is a difference between the teams. New York's Max Roosevelt(50 saves, 8 blown 4.35 ERA 1.21 WHIP) can't close but Barkley can. Wichita in 5

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

AL Division Play-In Series Previews

It's finally here...the first postseason in Munson World history! What a season it has been - with ownership changes, a large collection of talented rookies, heated division races, and teams overcoming injuries. Here is a look at the American League Play-in Series.

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

Wichita v. Cleveland
Season series: Cleveland 6-4
Team BA: Wichita - .268 Cleveland - .263
Team ERA: Wichita - 4.52 Cleveland - 4.92

Even though Cleveland narrowly edged the Shockers during the season, all four of their losses came on the road. Maybe the Cuyahoga's 5.11 ERA on the road is the reason. Cleveland has solid contributers in Blake Faulk(.328, 42HR-120RBI) and Pablo Hernandez(.311, 27HR-83RBI-35SB) but outside of that, the lineup doesn't have a hitter over .270. The Shockers could capitalize on that with their superior team ERA at home (4.09). With such a dramatic drop in ERA, allegedly due to their stadium, Derrick Lyon(17-8, 4.14ERA 1.28WHIP) and Andy Barkley(39 saves, 1.62ERA 0.84 WHIP) could be tough to beat. Going on the road is also easier for the Shockers with Gerald Bryant(61 HR) and Ernie Harrison(46 HR).

Prediction: Both teams don't hit exceptionally well. The difference lies in the pitching and that's where Wichita will excel. The last three games played between the two teams were decided by only 4 runs. Tomas Morales' 5.05 ERA and 10 blown saves are not going to help Cleveland's cause. Wichita in 3 games

New Orleans v. Las Vegas
Season series: Las Vegas 7-3
Team BA: New Orleans .277 Las Vegas .276
Team ERA: New Orleans 4.57 Las Vegas 4.85

What a tough season for those Ragin' Cajuns. Injuries have undeservedly diminished this team into the four seed and out of current talks of an LCS appearance let alone a World Series. This team thrives on small ball and pitching, hitting the fewest home runs out of any team in the playoffs (163). Danny Davies(16-6, 3.17ERA 1.19WHIP) is stellar but so is Hughie Wood(41 Saves, 1.99ERA 0.77WHIP). Opposing them is a team that has a better record and has beaten them seven times. Las Vegas' Jimmie Ramirez(16-7, 3.19ERA 1.10WHIP) anchors the rotation while Troy Hansen(.288 40HR-116RBI-27SB) has a great all-around presence. While Las Vegas may not have the storyline of adversity, they certainly can play the wildcard. A team drifting under the radar with 93 wins is something to be scared of.

Prediction: Both teams look fairly even with intriguing matchups all around. The Ragin' Cajuns have the pitching advantage but if the Viagras can take one in the Big Easy, they could walk away with the series. Literally. Nearly 700 BBs is the best in the majors. Las Vegas in 4.

Cajuns hold on to clinch division

The New Orleans Ragin Cajuns have overcome massive injuries to their pitching staff to claim the AL South crown. The Cajuns had aspirations in the spring to win 100 games, but found themselves struggling to win 85-90 games. Major injuries to #2-#5 SP's Manny McConnell, Hootie Allensworth, Josias Frias and John Ramirez as well as several position players pushed the Cajuns to the limit.

The Cajuns still are not completely whole going into the playoffs. Manny McConnell may be available for action by the ALCS should the Cajuns make it that far. Hootie Allensworth is shut down for the remainder of the season.

The Cajun's key to playoff success will be ace Danny Davies and the high OBP, low power station to station hitting attack. Closer Hughie Wood is a lethal weapon in close games, registering a 1.99 ERA and 41 saves.