Moran is a senior news-Internet journalism and math double major with a business minor, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good for Boston. It only makes sense that the city that has dominated sports for the past decade remembers what it feels like to choke again.
As the six-month long Major League Baseball season winds down, and with the postseason right around the corner, the Red Sox are on the verge of one of the biggest September collapses in baseball history.
It appeared that the American League playoff picture was set. The New York Yankees will represent the East division, the Detroit Tigers will represent the Central, the Texas Rangers will represent the West and Boston would win the Wild Card. Hell, it had a nine-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 3. No team in the history of baseball has lost a playoff spot after leading by nine games in the final month of the season.
Since then the Red Sox have gone 6-19 and the Rays have stormed back to tie the AL wild-card race heading into the final game of the season.
Thanks a lot, Boston. Now you forced me to make two scenarios in order to accurately predict the American League playoff picture.
But lo and behold, the Atlanta Braves have managed to match Boston’s choke in the National League wild-card race.
Like the American League, it appeared all four playoff spots were claimed in the National League. The Philadelphia Phillies win the East division, the Milwaukee Brewers win the Central, the Arizona Diamondbacks win the West and the Braves win the Wild Card.
Atlanta led the St. Louis Cardinals by eight-and-a-half games on Sept. 5. The Cardinals have now roared back to tie the Braves in the NL wild-card race heading into the season’s final game.
Great job, Atlanta. You have nearly matched the biggest September choke of all time in the same season.
Whoever wins the AL Wild Card will play the team that finishes with a better record between Detroit and Texas. As of today, the Rangers lead Detroit by one game, so let’s give Texas the nod for the No. 2 spot in the AL.
The Yankees are the top seed and will then face Detroit. While the Tigers have clinched the lowly Central division, they boast the best pitcher in baseball this season in Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA), who is sure to get two starts in the short five-game series, if needed. I think that will be the difference. Verlander goes into Yankee Stadium in game five and pitches a gem as the Tigers upset the Yankees three games to two in the American League Division Series.
The wild-card winner will take on defending American League champion Texas in the other ALDS series. If Boston stumbles into the playoffs, I think the Rangers take care of business with a three-game sweep. If Tampa makes it, however, then I face a dilemma. The Rangers and Rays faced off in a fantastic five-game series last postseason, in which the road team won every game. I think Tampa Bay would give Texas a tougher series, but I think the Rangers edge the Rays again in another five-game classic.
The National League playoff picture has the Phillies on top with the Brewers and Diamondbacks fighting it out for second place. Milwaukee leads by one game, so let’s assume the Brewers finish the season in second to simplify the process.
Now it gets complicated. If Atlanta holds off St. Louis, then the Phillies will take on the third-place team in the NL, which looks like the D-backs. Milwaukee would then win the lottery, because it earns the right to face a Braves team whose bullpen has been used more than a city bus. The Brewers would sweep the Braves in three games.
Arizona has flown under the radar all season, and the D-backs have been a gritty team that took down the defending world champion San Francisco Giants in the race for the NL West title. But Arizona does not stand a chance against the Phillies pitching staff. The Phillies feature two of the five best pitchers in the game (Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) and have another ace as their No. 3 starter (Cole Hamels). Phillies over the D-backs in four.
If St. Louis wins the NL Wild Card, then it would face Philadelphia. While its lineup would provide more of a challenge to the Phillies’ pitchers, the City of Brotherly Love will still prevail in four. Then Arizona would face Milwaukee, which is sure to be an entertaining series. Give me the Brewers in five games.
That sets up the American League Championship Series between Texas and Detroit. I think Verlander carries the Tigers again, as Detroit knocks off the Rangers in six games.
Philadelphia is just too deep for Milwaukee to handle, even though the Brewers’ pitchers are probably best equipped to match the Phillies’ rotation. In the National League Championship Series, give me Philadelphia in five games.
That sets up a World Series featuring Philadelphia and Detroit. The Phillies have won five straight division titles and have only one World Series championship to show for it; I think this year they get ring No. 2. The team with the best record in the MLB will prevail as Verlander finally runs out of gas against a strong Philadelphia team. The Phillies sweep the Tigers in four.
TD World Series Prediction
Philadelphia Phillies vs Detroit Tigers
Our bet: Phillies in four games