2010 MLB Playoffs: Phillies and Rays Lead Unusual Group of Playoff Teams

October 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

In an era of baseball that has been controlled by the big market teams, this year’s playoff landscape is certainly different from past seasons.

All right, maybe it isn’t completely different—the crop is still led by the usual suspects from New York and Philadelphia.

Still, the familiar names of the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels will not be heard in playoff baseball this year.

Instead, teams such as the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds will be vying for the World Series title this month.

With the exception of the Rangers, who are making the postseason for the first time since 1999, the American League playoff bracket doesn’t look drastically different.

The Red Sox might not be in it this season, but the AL East was still dominant and contributes both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Yankees—who finished first and second in the AL, respectively.

As far as matchups go, the Rangers will face off against the Rays in a series that will more than likely produce the American League champion.

The Rangers have fallen on the backburner as far as press coverage goes this past month, but they have picked up their game lately and will have star outfielder Josh Hamilton back from a rib injury.

In addition, staff ace Cliff Lee has turned it around in September and October and has registered a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts—certainly putting to bed the thought that trading for him was a bad idea.

The only issue for the Rangers is the fact that they have to go up against the best team in the AL.

The Rays will be the favorites to come out of the AL because of their ability to continuously produce great pitchers.

David Price is one of three pitchers in the discussion for the league’s Cy Young Award, and he is followed by another big arm in Matt Garza.

James Shields might not have the numbers you usually see from him, but there is a reason his nickname is “Big Game James.” If you need a big start from him, you’ll almost always get it.

On offense, you know what the Rays can do. Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford are some of the best in the business, and as always, they bring some lesser-known players, such as Ben Zobrist and Reid Brignac, who will certainly make a big impact.

In the other divisional matchup, it is the beaten up Minnesota Twins against the Yankees.

The team the Twins will field is a shell of the talent they have on the roster.

It is true that catcher Joe Mauer is back from a knee injury that caused him to miss 11 days, but it is also true that he is batting just .181 since his return. Add that to the fact that they will not have All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau because of a concussion, and there just isn’t a way for this team to win a championship.

The Yankees problem is their pitching. Sabathia will be dominating as usual, but there isn’t a lot of consistency behind him. Andy Pettitte is just coming back from an injury, and Phil Hughes doesn’t have a lot of experience starting in the playoffs.

Why was AJ Burnett left off that list? It’s because he’ll probably be left off the Yankees roster because of an embarrassing 1-7 record since August.

The American League has dominated every headline for a long time, but this year has changed that a little bit.

The National League won the All-Star Game, meaning the National League champion will have home field advantage in the World Series.

On that side of the playoff bracket there are two teams I could see playing in the Fall Classic.

The hottest team right now is the Phillies, who went 21-6 in September to rip the NL East title away from Atlanta.

With a trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels on the staff, Philly might not have to pitch anyone else for the rest of the year.

The Phillies will go up against the Reds, who make for an interesting opponent.

Normally, this is where many writers would say the Reds haven’t made the playoffs since 1995 and just making it this far is great—but the truth of the matter is that they have been one of the top two or three teams in baseball all year.

If you haven’t heard the name Joey Votto yet, look it up now because he might be the best player in all of baseball.

The Reds are a legitimate threat to win it all and this is just the first of many playoff appearances for the up and coming Cincinnati organization.

The winner of this series will represent the National League, as the other two teams aren’t quite in the same league.

Of the other two teams, the Giants and the Atlanta Braves, look for the Giants to be the more likely team to advance to the NLCS.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox will go down as one of the greatest managers of all time, but the bottom line is that his Braves just don’t have the skill on offense to match up against the Giants’ pitching.

In the month of September, the Giants team ERA was 1.78. That is the fifth-lowest team ERA in any calendar month since 1920. Whether it be Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito or Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants have just been impossible to hit against.

When the World Series finally does get here, look for it to be a replica of 2008, when the Phillies beat the Rays.

The Phillies have too good of a one-two-three starting rotation and with the power they have in the middle of their lineup, it is hard to imagine anyone being able to beat them four times.


This article was featured in the Collegiate Times, a student run newspaper at Virginia Tech. You can follow the author, Nick Cafferky, on Twitter @Caffscorner

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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