Wednesday, October 5, 2016
2016 ALDS and NLDS picks
By Rick Morris
NOTE: 2-0 record in the playoffs so far.
Toronto vs. Texas: Frankly, there are too few blood feuds in MLB these days, so it’s very refreshing to see perhaps the foremost one on today’s landscape in the playoffs once again. Security at the former Skydome is going to be of paramount importance, given last year’s riot and the beer can incident in the wild card game. Both teams can rip the cover off of the ball, but the Rangers’ starting pitching is better and more reliable – and they have the #1 seed’s advantage of playing the team that had to prioritize for the wild card game. Texas also has the advantage in the bullpen, leaving the Jays with only a (narrow) advantage defensively. The Rangers take a (justifiable) rap for being a lucky team given their flukish record in one-run games, but their midseason acquisitions have rendered this a different team than the one responsible for the majority of that history. It’s a different, and improved, Texas team from the one that lost in this round last year to Toronto. And the result will be different this time, setting up what would be a juicy rubber match in 2017. Texas in 4.
Boston vs. Cleveland: With both pitching rotations beset by injuries, the teams somewhat mirror one another right now in terms of strengths and weaknesses – with the exception of power in the offense, which decisively favors the Red Sox. It’s keyed by the opposites of young and fleet Mookie Betts, a megastar in his first postseason and the soon-to-retire David Ortiz. The Indians have relied much more on timely hitting throughout the year, something which is more luck-based, but also frequently in evidence in this postseason. If you’re looking for candidates to go on an unlikely October tear, the Tribe is certainly a candidate because they’ve been playing in that fashion for six months. Cleveland in 5.
San Francisco vs. Chicago Cubs: Whoever emerged from the wild card game was going to present a fierce challenge, at least to the battered psyches of Cubs fans. The Mets famously upended the North Siders in dramatic fashion in 1969 and then notched a shocking sweep in last year’s NLCS. And entire books have been written about the Giants’ even-year dominance in the 2010s. On paper, the Cubs tower over San Francisco dramatically in terms of offense and bullpen. Granted, Chicago’s advantages defensively and in starting pitching are narrow, but the Giants are going to rue having to burn MadBum in the wild card game. In short, on paper, it’s not even funny how much better the Cubs are than the Giants right now. If San Francisco emerges from this series triumphantly, pencil them in to go all the way, because there would truly be forces we can’t understand at work here. Chicago Cubs in 4.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington: The cynical way to view this matchup of two of this decade’s biggest playoff underachievers is to note that one of them has to make it to the NLCS. That may not be completely fair, though, as each team is under new management this year and each really accomplished a lot this year – the Dodgers in running down the Giants after their big start and the Nationals in terms of playing better than they did with more talented Washington teams of recent years. As with Cleveland and Boston, they’re fairly matched in most areas but one: defense, where LA dominates this clash. That could well be enough in a series that will introduce the October world to budding Dodger megastar Corey Seager. Los Angeles Dodgers in 4.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Texas over Cleveland in 6
Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers in 5
Chicago Cubs over Texas in 5