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The Tech’s Predictions: Yankees, Sox, Braves, and Marlins

By Yong-Yi Zhu

Finally, the playoffs are here. Boy was I excited a week ago, when it seemed like every team in the National League would have a chance to make the postseason. Between the Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, Marlins, and Phillies, I was expecting some huge complicated playoff before the playoffs. But the Marlins swept the Phillies, and the Cubs won their games against the Reds and Pirates to dispel all the potential drama. Well, a whole new drama will start today, when the playoffs open. Some things never change, like the Yankees and Braves.

But some things just seem out of place, like the Cubs and the Marlins. It’s been a crazy season, and I hope it’s an ever crazier postseason. But no matter what the playoffs bring, it’s October; it’s baseball; and it’s time to watch and enjoy. Sorry 6.002, I’ve got other plans this week.

American League: Yankees/Twins

I don’t anticipate any surprises from this series. The Yankees are just too offensively talented. Look at their lineup; I don’t really see any holes. Whom can you casually pitch to? From Alfonso Soriano, to Derek Jeter, to Jorge Posada, to Nick Johnson, you really can’t play around all that much with them. Of course, the big man in the middle, Jason Giambi, can go deep at anytime, anywhere.

The Yankees’ pitching isn’t too shabby either. Mike Mussina, 17-8 with a 3.40 ERA, has had a great season and is ranked fourth in strikeouts. Roger Clemens, despite the fiasco about getting his 300th win earlier in the season, has put quite a campaign together. He is 17-9 with an ERA of 3.91. Andy Pettitte has been exceptional as well, going 21-8 with an ERA of 4.02.

Those three pitchers alone should do a lot of damage to the Twins’ lineup that features a slew of good, but not exceptional hitters, including Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones. The Twins’ pitching is also relatively weak, as they are starting Johan Santana, 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA in the first game against the Yankees. Overall, I think the Twins have nothing to lose, but they will lose all that. Too young? Too inexperienced? Whatever it may be, the Yankees are just too good.

Pick: Yankees to sweep the Twins

American League: A’s/Red Sox

Definitely an interesting series. To say that it’s the pitching of Oakland against the hitting of the Red Sox really isn’t fair. The Red Sox, in a shortened series, can potentially throw Pedro out there twice. And if Pedro pitches like Pedro, that should be two easy games. He does lead the AL with an ERA of 2.22, after all. The question is whether or not Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield can hold up. They’ve played relatively well, or else they would not be in the playoffs right now, but can they survive under playoff pressure?

The A’s, who didn’t start with an effective offense, have picked it up lately. They also feature Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, two of the best young pitchers in the game. Can those two contain the likes of Nomar, Manny, Bill Mueller and David Ortiz? If they can, then the A’s really have a shot. Otherwise, Boston will walk away with the series. All in all, the series is going to be close, even if each individual game might not be.

Pick: Boston wins in 5

National League: Braves/Cubs

Ah, the Atlanta Braves. Man, they must hate the Cubs right now. It was supposed to be another odd-numbered year where the Braves can just pummel the Astros in the playoffs so they can move right along to the NL championship series. After all, they have done it pretty much throughout the last decade. But, Sosa and the Cubs would not see to that, and the result is going to be the best first round match-up of the playoffs. The Cubs have pitching, pitching, and more pitching. They will start Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and then Mark Prior. Boy, do the Braves have their hands tied there.

This Cubs seem like the Braves of the past, bringing in lots of good pitching. The consolation to the Braves is that they’ve done quite poorly when they’ve brought nothing but pitching. Sure, the Cubs have that Sosa guy, but one player out of nine isn’t going to hurt the Atlanta pitching all that much.

The Braves, on the other hand are an offensive juggernaut for once. Their first six or seven hitters are all great and can all go long. Javy Lopez will catch all the games, even Maddux’s. The weirdest thing about this series is that neither Greg Maddux nor Tom Glavine will pitch in games one and two of the series. Man, the times have changed.

Pick: Braves in 5

National League: Giants/Marlins

Well, come to think of it, this match-up won’t be so bad. Outside of Barry Bonds, there’s nobody spectacular in the Giants’ lineup. That week when Barry was gone, the Giants just sat there and died offensively. They don’t have that much pitching either, outside of Jason Schmidt, who does sport a 17-5 record with a league best ERA of 2.34. Ponson has been okay, but not outstanding.

Good thing is that the Marlins don’t have that much of an offense. Mike Lowell has cooled off substantially and they are now offensively led by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo. The Marlins have the slight edge in pitching, as they can throw Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis, and Mark Redman at the Giants. I may be still the only one in the world who doesn’t believe the D-Train is here to stay, but he has played decently in his last few starts. They may just have enough juice in this department here to knock off the Giants.

I think with the way the Marlins have been playing recently, if they continue with the momentum they’ve gathered, the Wild Card Express will steamroll it’s way through San Francisco. Well, maybe more of a slow roll.

Pick: Marlins in 5