These are my playoff predictions for this season, on today, Opening Day.
What about the Red Sox?
What about ’em?
In all seriousness, I’m really not buying the Red Sox’s rotation this year. Aside from Jon Lester, I really don’t feel that the contributions of Boston’s starting 5 will be as good as everybody predicts. Josh Beckett is past his prime year, he’s a fairly large injury risk, and if he pitches 200 innings this year, he’s not going to duplicate his statistics in 07, when he nearly lost the Cy Young award–to current Yanks pitcher CC Sabathia. With Matsuzaka, you’ve got to throw strikes to succeed in the MLB. I don’t care how well you set up your pitches, how big your arsenal is, if you can’t pitch efficient strikes and get your pitch count low, hitters will know what you do against you and your lack of command will end up exploding in your face. Tim Wakefield is Tim Wakefield. He’s just not going to put up great numbers. He’ll be average, and nothing more. As for Brad Penny, I think you understand why I’m iffy on Penny. Not only that, but their lineup is full of either overrated players, injury risk players, or players who had a fluke year in 08. For example: Kevin Youkilis.
The Giants? What?
I’m aware that the Frisco Giants have not been a contending team for a while– 181 losses in their last two years– but I like their pitching. I like it a lot. Lincecum, the NL Cy Young award winner, and Matt Cain, a very talented flamethrowing righty who’s a workhorse, Randy Johnson, the ageless wonder who can still throw good fastballs and sharp sliders where he wants them, and two guys who have really underachieved. Jonathan Sanchez is a guy with phenomenal stuff, and he’s a lefty. Barry Zito stinks, let’s face it. He’s just ridiculous. But I feel he’ll get better. He had a 4.59 ERA in the 2nd half last year. He pitches in a pitcher’s park. I think he’ll do better, but not phenomenally well in 09. They also have an improved offense, with young guys and veteran players combined. Their bullpen is at least average. I like their chances in the weak NL West.
Yes, the Braves. They have a few good hitters, a stellar, solidified rotation, and a bullpen that has the potential to be fantastic. You don’t need power to win: the Braves don’t have sluggers up and down the lineup(although it sure seemed like it on Opening Day, 3 homers, 2 long doubles),
What about the reigning champs?
The Phillies had a very flukey year in 2008. They’re not that good. Their rotation looks very meh: other than Cole Hamels, there are no solid pitchers in that starting five. They were lead to the playoffs by an overachieving closer in Brad Lidge: look at his stats from the previous year, you’ll see he’s a good pitcher, but not fantastic, as his 08 numbers suggest. One could also look at Chad Durbin: Durbin was a key to that 08 Phillies ‘pen, leading the NL in innings pitched and putting up a great ERA. But he has never had that kind of success in the major leagues. He’s not nearly that good. JC Romero is going to miss 50 games with that suspension on substance abuse. The only guy that I really like in that Phils bullpen is Ryan Madson. He’s solid. Everyone else is up or down.
And that’s it.
Stay positive, Yankee fans! Even though we’ll lose in the ALCS…
-EJ the Kid From New York