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The 2011 OWS MLB Playoff Preview

We are only minutes away from the start of the 2011 MLB postseason. Just in time for the first pitch, WaWaFan takes you through each playoff series. All of the OWS MLB playoff coverage can be read here.

The MLB Playoffs are upon us. This year the playoffs have the biggest buzz in as long as I can remember, obviously due to the thrilling last day of the season where we saw two teams overcome large deficits in the Wild Card race.  I’m sure many people, especially Bud Selig and TBS, are hoping it can carry the momentum into the playoffs and offer up an exciting October (and one September night).  It shouldn’t disappoint with the pitching matchup in the Bronx later tonight, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

All four Division Series matchups have their own intrigue and interesting tidbits about them.  Can the Rays continue this streak, or are they going to burn out?  Can the Yankees really CC Sabathia like they hope to?  What about the Cardinals, can they continue hitting like they have or will the Phillies aces silence Pujols and co.?  Does anyone care about Milwaukee and Arizona?

I’ll dive a little deeper into each series and give you some insight and predictions and how each team should fair, starting with the American League, that debuts tonight.

Texas Rangers (AL West Champs) vs Tampa Bay Rays (AL Wild Card)

This is a rematch of last year’s ALDS where no team could win at home.  The Rangers won the series (their first playoff series win in team history) propelling them to the World Series where they lost to San Francisco.  They obviously don’t have Cliff Lee this time around but their pitching is very good.  The whole series comes down to answering the question posed earlier.  On one hand you could believe that Joe Maddon has all of the magic up his sleeve to make another World Series appearance or they could be spent after chasing the Red Sox for a month.  I am going with the latter, here.  The Rays are unable to lineup their starting pitching the way they would like and are starting a 22-year-old rookie, who has pitched a total of 9 1/3 innings on the major league level in game 1, they are facing one of the deepest lineups in the league.  From top to bottom, this lineup has power and hits for average.  There is not a hole anywhere.  CJ Wilson shouldn’t have a problem getting the crucial game 1 win at home.

For the Rays to win this series they will collectively need to stay focused

 throughout each inning of the series.  I do not get a chance to see them play a lot, however it seems like they can go on stretches of lackadaisical play. They will need to get great games from James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson, not to mention have David Price show up (hasn’t won since Aug. 28).  They will also need BJ Upton to what he did in 2008

For the Rangers to win they need to do what they have done all season and in September (19-6, avg 6.7 runs/game).  They need their pitchers to work into the seventh inning and have their hitters make quality at bats.  This is a more complete team than we saw go to the World Series last year, scary thought, isn’t it? CJ Wilson, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison should be able to continue what they have done all season.

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Thank You Cliff; Lee To Sign With Phillies

He’s back, Philadelphia. This instantly makes the Phillies the favorites to win the World Series in 2011. No, I mean it literally did. The Phillies are now 7/2 favorites. But enough about ‘Illadelphia.

As is the case with everything in baseball, this is really about the AL East.

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Phillies own Broxton

Johnathan Broxton has had a nice career so far with the Dodgers.  He has made 2 all-star teams (2009 and 2010), had 36 saves with a 2.61 ERA last year and has followed that up with 21 save 3.50 ERA year to date.  With his high 90’s fastball and his high 80’s slider he has the tools to be a rock star closer.

Too bad the Phillies do not care what kind of pitcher Broxton is.  Ever since game 4 of the NLCS in 2008, the Phillies have literally owned Broxton.  That night he gave up the famous home run to Matt Stairs that completely changed to course of the game and series and the Phillies went on to win the series and win the World Series.

Fast forward one year to game 4 of the 2009 NLCS.  Jimmy Rollins roped a 2 out double off of a 99 mph Broxton fastball to turn a 4-3 defeat into a 5-4 Phillies victory and eventual series win.   (more…)