MLB Postseason 2012: Predicting the Wild Card and Division Series Winners

After a great 162 game regular season that came down to the final game for some teams, October magic is upon us. On Friday, the playoffs begin with a one game series between four teams who were the wildcards in their respective league. The following are those games and how I think they will play out.

NL Wild Card- St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves

Last year’s World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals will be up against the Atlanta Braves in the first game of the MLB playoffs. Cardinals have elected to pitch Kyle Lohse who was 16-3 this year with a 2.86 ERA and was easily the Cardinals best pitcher. The Braves have chosen Kris Medlen who was a former bullpen pitcher turned starter. Medlen was 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA. Cardinals coming into this game have won 11 out of their last 15, while the Atlanta Braves have won 23 straight games in which Medlen has started. Tough to decide between these two teams, but I have to go with the Atlanta Braves. Not only are they home, but I think the pitching has the slight edge. Sure, Cardinals have the better hitting, but let’s not forget that this may be Chipper Jones last game ever. I think it fuels the fire and advances the Braves to the next round.

AL Wild Card- Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers

Both teams had disappointing ends to the season. Both failed to win their division when they had the chance the entire season, especially the Texas Rangers. However the biggest factor in this series is playoff experience. The Texas Rangers have that experience. They’ve been to the World Series the last two years. The Baltimore Orioles, not so much. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 1997. My pick the Texas Rangers. They have three key elements: more experience, better pitching, and are hungrier. You don’t think the Rangers are angry they lost a 13 game lead to the Oakland Athletics? They sure are. That will add fire to the flame, and I expect a rout from the Rangers as they move on to the next round.

NLDS- Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants

Reds manager Dusty Baker used to manage the Giants and back in 2002 led them to the World Series, however, fell short. We already know that Matt Cain will start against Johnny Cuerto in game one, but after that we have no idea. Giants have the better hitting, while the Reds have slightly better pitching and have the home field advantage. When it comes down to it, I have to choose the San Francisco Giants. Once again it comes down to experience. Let’s not forget the Giants are a team two years removed from a World Series victory. Sure, the pitching staff may not be what it was two years ago (looking at you Tim Lincecum), but the hitting is much better.

NLDS- Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals

This classic NL East matchup is sure to be a good one. Once again the Braves and Nationals will do battle, and I’m sure National fans will be loud when the series shifts to Washington. A lot of discussion/arguing has been made the past few weeks for the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals did fine without him and will continue to do fine without him. They still have a decent pitching staff, led by Gio Gonzalez who won 21 games and can possibly win the CY Young. Better hitting, better pitching and consistency is why I choose the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves.

ALDS- Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers

The two hottest storylines for the past month will clash in the playoffs, when the red-hot Oakland Athletics take on Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. Oakland comes in with one of the best second half pitching staffs, and one of the lowest salary caps in the playoffs. The Tigers come in with the best hitter (possible MVP) and quite possibly the best pitcher in the game with Justin Verlander. While Miguel Cabrera may be king for now, I’m taking the upset. The Oakland Athletics will win the series, because they’re red-hot and are riding the momentum.

ALDS- Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees

If my wildcard prediction is right, this will be the most exciting divisional series of all. The New York Yankees were able to defeat the Boston Red Sox to win the AL East. As I said the Texas Rangers will be hungry in these playoffs with their late season collapse. Both teams have decent pitching and powerful hitting. Both teams have great managers. It’s going to be a fun series to watch and I like the New York Yankees. While, the pitching edge goes to the Rangers, the Yankees are a team full of veterans, which means plenty of leaders in the locker-room when times get tough. Some might say that age hurts the Yankees, but if the Yankees go down 0-2 in this series, they have plenty of leaders in the locker-room to help pick up the pieces.