Hyde: MLB Post season predictions
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 23:09
The old coach’s sermon “defense wins championships” can surely apply in late inning play, but as the race for October nears in the MLB, pitching depth will determine how deep teams will advance into the post-season.
Familiar faces will return to the post-season this year, including the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants. But with the emphasis on the pitching rotation, NL east division leader Washington Nationals will have their presence heard in the playoffs with four top 40 pitchers in their arsenal.
Although the wins were low scoring games, (3-2 against the Rays, 3-1 against the Orioles), strong pitching performances from starters such as Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez allowed the Nationals’ offense to produce. Overall, Washington has a record of 89-57 with a five-and-a-half game lead on NL Wild Card contender Atlanta Braves. This season the Nationals are 10-8 against AL opponents.
With the late season decision by Nationals Manager Davey Johnson to shut down Strasburg (15-6) to preserve his arm after his Tommy John surgery in 2010, Washington’s pitching rotation will rely on the arms of Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Detwiler to carry them deep into the post-season brackets.
Although Strasburg ranks as one of the top pitchers in the league, his absence will not hinder the Nationals’ pitching success in the post season.
Gonzalez (19-8) will assume the role Strasburg left behind as the bullpen leader. With an ERA of 2.95, Gonzalez has tamed opponents by throwing a career high of 196 strikeouts and only allowing nine homeruns this season. Gonzalez has yet to make an appearance in the post-season in his six years in the majors, but with the season numbers he has posted, Gonzalez will carry Washington’s pitching rotation deep into the post-season.
In the American League, the Rangers will mow their way through their bracket to make their third World Series appearance in the past three years.
This year the Rangers had eight players make it to the AL All-Star team including AL homerun leader Josh Hamilton, rookie phenom pitcher Yu Darvish, Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Joe Nathan.
With such a veteran lineup, which has experienced two World Series appearances in the past two years together, the Rangers third appearance should be the charm after losing the previous series.
However, the Rangers pitching is their weakest link. After having three blown saves in game six of the 2011 World Series against the Cardinals, the Rangers handed the Cardinals the title in game seven.
This year, injuries have plagued Texas’ bullpen.
Pitchers Mike Adams, Roy Oswalt, Tanner Scheppers, Colby Lewis, and Neftali Feliz are listed on the disabled list, with Feliz and Lewis out for the season. If the Rangers can control the amount of injuries within their lineup the next three weeks, they, without a doubt, will make their third appearance in the World Series.
The MLB regular season ends Oct. 3 and although the Yankees will once again make another appearance in the post-season, Derek Jeter can only do so much. Alex Rodriguez’s seemingly permanent spot on the disabled list, and the absence of veteran closer Mariano Rivera will keep the Yankees out of the second round.
Although the Yankees were the first team in the MLB to achieve 60 wins this season, the New York franchise is barely holding onto the AL East as they are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place.
In the end, Texas will be crowned as champions this year but the 2012 post-season will be a pitcher’s battle ground. With the Washington Nationals making their first appearance in the playoffs, and the veteran Ranger’s squad, the World Series will hinge on the depth of the pitching rotation of each team.