Major League Baseball

Inside The Wheelhouse: 2010 MLB Postseason Preview – ALDS

Cliff Lee returns to the playoffs for the Rangers.October Baseball is literally days away as we are knocking on the doorstep of the 2010 MLB Postseason set to begin this Wednesday with the ALDS. As we sit here literally less then a month away from crowing a World Series Champion out of one of the eight remaining teams left in Baseball. Eight teams remain but when it’s all said and done there will be one left standing. Let’s start off the preview by looking at the American League and the ALDS series.

ALDS:

Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) vs. Texas Rangers (90-72)

After a one year absence following their amazing 2008 run, the Tampa Bay Rays are back in the Postseason and quite possibly for the last time for the next number of years. They take on a team that won the AL West Division in what nearly felt like in the beginning of August in the Texas Rangers. Texas has not been in the Postseason in 11 years, since 1999 when the days of Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez served in their lineup.

The key to this series as it will be for most teams in the Postseason will be its pitching. Both lineups are very new to postseason play with some players on the Rays getting their 2nd chance in playoff action while this is their first go around in October. In Texas it’s a little bit more of their first time in the playoffs while you have some veterans (i.e. Vlad Guerrero) who have Postseason experience. October Baseball vs. Regular season Baseball is completely different.

This series will depend on the Game 1 starter, as whatever team wins Game 1 in this particular series will have the edge in my opinion. Both teams will be sending up their ace lefty in what is quite possibly the best pitching matchup in the entire postseason for the Divisional round as David Price will match up against Cliff Lee. Should Cliff Lee pitch as masterful in this series as he did in the 2009 Playoffs then the Rays will have trouble against the Rangers in this series.

Out of all the American League project postseason rotations heading into the playoffs the Texas Rangers had the best ERA of the 4 teams with an ERA of 3.47. The projected Texas Rangers rotation would look like Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. They would matchup against a projected pitching rotation of David Price, James Shields, Matt Garza and Wade Davis who’s combined ERA is 3.96.

Another intangible in this series will be the injuries of their big superstars. In Texas you have Josh Hamilton who has been out of the Rangers lineup since Sept. 4th with a rib injury, an injury that lingered and ended his season last year. While in Tampa Bay you have 3rd Baseman Evan Longoria battling a quadriceps injury. Both injuries are considered to be very serious and the toughness of either one of these players will sway an advantage to their team.

While Texas may be able to out pitch the Tampa Bay Rays on paper, they will need to make sure the Rays stay off the base paths and turn the game into a speed trap for the AL Western Division champions. The Rays are a fundamental scoring Baseball team, they run, they hit and they score. Very simple; a simple plan that earned them the 2nd best record in Major League Baseball, if they got on, watch out.

Looking all of this and making my predictions for this series it’s quite possible that the Texas Rangers could shock the world and upset the Rays in the ALDS. They have the pitching to do it and quite possibly have the most impressive lineup of any of the American League teams in the Postseason. But I feel like the Rays are looking to send a message that they need to win this season because it could be the last time this Rays team is together.

We could be looking at another potential 1997 Florida Marlins deal in the offseason should the Rays win it all and the Rays know that. They are a very determined and very talented team, possibly the most talented team in Baseball and they want to win it bad. It’s hard to dismiss everything they did in the 2010 regular season and especially in the AL East fight. Texas has a hard battle playing against top teams as they have been cake walking it into the AL West title for almost two months, something that does affect your team’s psychology.

I like the Rays in this series winning in 4 games and heading to the ALCS. It will be fun and exciting to watch, especially if you enjoy pitching matchups. This Rays team will be hard to stop and they can control their entire destiny by playing the same Baseball they have the entire regular season.

Prediction: Rays win series 3-1

Minnesota Twins (94-68) vs. New York Yankees (95-67)

Its deja vu all over again as the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees meet again in Postseason play. Since 2009, these two teams have played each other in the Divisional series three times in the last seven years in the postseason. The Yankees have won all three series and have won 9 of the 11 games.

You have to figure that eventually the Minnesota Twins will break through and get the series victory over the Yankees. Just ask the Los Angeles Angels who were owned by the Boston Red Sox in the Postseason the last decade until 2009 when they finally found a way to stop the Red Sox in Postseason play. It is bound to happen eventually, but will it happen this season?

The Minnesota Twins during the beginning and middle of September were the best team in Baseball. They clinched their Division earlier then the teams like Tampa Bay and New York, which affects the team in my opinion when the calendar turns over to October and you got a different type of Baseball ready to play. The Twins struggled down the stretch while the Yankees had to continue to play to get in the Postseason, something that you may need to look out for in the Postseason.

When a team clinches early they lose their mental toughness and edge they had for the entire season. Sometimes that locomotive train of a feeling is hard to grab again when you’re in Postseason play and sometimes it doesn’t affect a team at all. It will be interesting to see which will be the type of Twins we see come to play in the Postseason.

The key in this series for the Twins is the home field advantage. Target field will be rocking come Wednesday night as they welcome the Yankees to Minnesota to play their Twins. If the Twins can use that home field advantage and get an edge heading into Game 3 when they return to New York then this series may be over quickly.

The key for the New York Yankees, just like last Postseason, will be their pitching. CC Sabathia has been the Yankees only reliable starter with Andy Pettitte & Phil Hughes coming up in the rear as somewhat reliable as well. AJ Burnett has struggled and Javier Vazquez probably won’t start again for the rest of the Postseason, if the starting pitching is bad then the Yankees will lose the series, if the starting pitching is great then they will win the series.

It also doesn’t help that the Twins will be without Justin Morneau in the Postseason but the Twins have been without him since July 7th and have played like the best team in Baseball since then. The Twins were preparing themselves for a Morneau return in October and that obviously won’t happen now as he has been ruled out for the playoffs. You have to wonder if that mindset affects a team or if they will continue trekking on.

Eventually David beats Goalith in the ring and I feel like that may happen in this particular series. The Yankees have not played like the Yankees in September and the Twins have been the 2nd best team in Baseball just behind the Phillies of the National League in the 2nd half of the season. The Twins are rolling and may not be stopped in the 2010 Postseason. I like the Minnesota Twins winning this series in 5 games and giving us many Postseason moments to remember.

Prediction: Twins win series 3-2

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

If you would like to subscribe to “The Wheelhouse” on iTunes simply subscribe for free at iTunes by typing in “Wheelhouse Radio!”

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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