Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 MLB Wild Card Games preview

By Rick Morris

AL, Oakland at Kansas City: The As offense really bottomed out in the last third of the season after sending Yeonis Cespedes, their premier power hitter, to Boston.  But they draw a nice matchup with KC, a team with significantly less power than them.  The Royals are a strange lot, a team marked by many as a future playoff squad about 3-4 years ago based on their absolute wealth of young talent – and here they are.  However, none of the youngsters have developed into superstars, much less franchise players.  It’s a good team, but one expected to be much better all-around if they were going to make the playoffs with this core.  Oakland will have the advantage in the earlier innings, with Jon Lester up against James Shields, but the advantage switches to the Royals with their killer bullpen from the seventh inning forward.  The Kansas City defense is a substantial factor as well, but the necessity of scratching for every run in a game like this will come back to bit them.  Pick: Oakland.

NL, San Francisco at Pittsburgh: In the Barry Bonds Bowl, the Giants will be out to avenge their loss in the 1971 National League Championship Series to the Pirates.  The easy assumption here is that Team Bret Saberhagen will win the World Series as they do every other year.  Strangely, for a banjo-hitting franchise when they won it all in 2010 and 2012, the hitting is better than in those years, but the starting pitching is way thinner.  However, for the purposes of this game, they come out ahead with their ace, Madison Bumgarner, taking the bump.  On paper, that’s a big edge for the Giants, but Edinson Volquez has been red-hot of late, so that could be an equalizer, especially with big gun Michael Morse hurt.  But in the end, you have to like San Francisco’s proven record in must-win playoff games in recent years.  The road won’t rattle them like it did Cincinnati last year.  Pick: San Francisco.

ALDS: Los Angeles Angels over Oakland in 4, Baltimore over Detroit in 4.
NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers over St. Louis in 4, Washington over San Francisco in 4.
ALCS: Los Angeles Angels over Baltimore in 5.
NLCS: Washington over Los Angeles Dodgers in 6.
World Series: Washington over Los Angeles Angels in 6.

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