Colorado (WC) vs. Philadelphia (NLE)
Pitching: This is not a strength of either team. The Phillies have Hammels who is the only bona fide ace on either roster, but the Rockies have Manny Corpas who is the only high quality reliever on either roster. Generally, I believe the Rockies have a stronger pitching staff over all, but in a short five game series when Hammels will have the chance to throw in two games (provided he doesn’t get injured) the differences between the two teams staffs are minimized and possibly even favor Philadelphia.
Hitting: There is no team in the National League who are the equal of the Phillies offense. In fact, there are few teams (though they do exist) in the American League that can equal the Phillies offensive output. However, the Rockies aren’t a bad hitting team with Tulowitzski and Holliday to say nothing of Helton. Still, this is a big advantage for the Phillies.
Overall: The Phillies are the better team overall. Considering the pitching staffs and the stadiums these two teams play in these games should be high scoring and fun to watch.
Prediction: Phillies in Five
Chicago (NLC) vs. Arizona (NLW)
Pitching: Both these rotations are top heavy with Webb and Zambrano. The winner of game one will have a huge leg up on the competition. The Cubs bullpen and back end of the rotation is likely stronger than Arizona’s as well.
Hitting: Arizona is a mediocre offensive team, and while the Cubs haven’t scored a ton of runs either this season, they undoubtedly have the better hitters. Ramirez and Derek Lee are both head and shoulders above anyone the Diamondbacks can offer up.
Overall: Despite the season records, I think the Cubs are a stronger team. Arizona has been doing it with smoke and mirrors this season (they’ve been outscored overall on the year) and its time for the run to end.
Prediction: Cubs in 4
New York (WC) vs. Cleveland (ALC)
Pitching: Both teams have similar starting staffs. The Indians CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona are met with the Yankees Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang. Wang and Carmona are even similar pitchers, though Carmona is likely slightly better due to his ability to strike batters out at a higher rate. To me, Sabbathia is the best pitcher on either roster, but after that, things get more equal, and even start to tilt the Yankees way. Phil Huges and Roger Clemens are both better than anyone #3 starter that Cleveland can throw.
As for bullpens, the Yankees have Rivera and Joba Chamberlain while the Indians can only boast Rafael Betancourt who isn’t as good as either NY pitcher.
Hitting: The Yankees are an incomparable run scoring machine. The Yankees have a distinct advantage over anyone in the hitting department. One’s mind boggles at the pools of drool that will be emitted by Yankee hitters once the following is heard on the PA system: “Now pitching for Cleveland, Joe Borowski”
Overall: The Indians have an intriguing team with two high quality starters and some heavy hitters, but they’re going to have to win in five games. If the Yankees can keep it under five games (and I think they can) they’ll win.
Prediction: Yankees in 4
Anaheim (ALW) vs. Boston (ALE)
Pitching: Unlike the Phils/Rockies series, both teams have excellent pitching staffs. However, the Red Sox staff is just slightly better all around. From their bullpen to their number three starter, the Sox have a slight edge. Now, theres a big difference between a slight edge and a huge edge. But still, over a whole series where the Angels can expect to face Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka twice and Curt Schilling in game three, the Red Sox have the slight advantage. Its close but the Sox pitching is better.
Hitting: Here there is a larger gap between the two teams. The Red Sox have a deeper lineup, they get on base more and they hit for more power. Even the Angels running attack isn’t as big an advantage this year, as the Red Sox are second in the AL with 94 stolen bases to the Angels 132 (the Sox have also been successful at a 10% higher clip).
Overall: This is the best match up the Red Sox could have hoped for and the worst for the Angels. The Boston's pitching is at least as good as Anaheim’s and their hitting is simply better.
Prediction: Red Sox in 3