Sunday, September 14, 2008

MLB Playoff Push is Down to the Wire

Before I reflect on my predictions from way back when, actually August 30th, I'll talk about some of the cool happenings from around the leagues.

Leading off (pun intended), Zambrano's no hitter: Today, Zambrano became just the 2nd pitcher of the year (after Jon Lester) and the first Cubs pitcher in 36 years to throw a no-hitter. And he did it at a time when his performance was unclear. The ace had not started a game since September 2, yet was hitting 98 on the gun with his heat early in today's game. The doubt erased, we will see how far Zambrano can carry Chicago in this postseason. Plus, Harden's addition will prove even more valuable once the team enters the playoffs.

For more important matters (unless you're a Cubs fan), on to the playoffs:
On August 30th, the teams I predicted would make the playoffs are:
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
LA Dodgers
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Philadelphia Phillies

Of those predictions, the only ones that are really up in the air right now are the Twins, Phillies, and Twins (all of which have 67 losses and either 82 or 83 wins). I was hoping that the Mets were not going to make it, and Philadelphia has been holding up their end by winning their last 4. Just that Milwaukee's 4 straight losses are guaranteeing that the NL East sends 2 teams to the NLDS.

And the midseason worries about the NL West being represented by a sub-.500 ballclub seem to be discounted now that the Dodgers have been surging by winning 8 of their last 10 games. And if Arizona doesn't watch it, the Giants (8-2 in their last 10) might overtake their 2nd place spot.

It would appear that the only possible reason to mention the Giants in an article of any decency would be to discuss Tim Lincecum and his shot at winning the Cy Young Award. But being a true Giants fan myself, I have to give credit to their scrappy playing of late. But back to Tim for a second. His 237 strikeouts and 2.43 ERA combined with only 3 losses make him arguably the most dominant pitcher in the NL, if not all of the Major Leagues. And with his first career shutout thrown yesterday, Lincecum has showed his maturation from a young flamethrower to a lightly seasoned ace.

Zambrano's no-no wasn't the only milestone this week - K-Rod recorded his 58th save of the season, to beat Thigpen's previous mark of 57 for saves in a season. Not surprisingly, Rodgriguez pitches for the best team in baseball. There was an era when closers were simply washed up starters who didn't have the endurance for multiple innings. Until the last couple of decades, closers routinely were asked to record 4, 5, or 6 outs to secure the win. But now days with the glorification given to closers, these specialists are called upon to record almost primarily 3 outs, and sometimes even fewer. No doubt that this is still a great record to break; it just sets the bar even higher for the next great closer on the next great winning ball club.

So finally, my playoff predictions:
I'm gonna stick with Minnesota overtaking the White Sox and their 1.5 game lead with about 13 games left in the season. However, I will replace Milwaukee with New York to make it to the playoffs because of each team's performance over the last handful of games.

Thats it for now. Let's see how many teams I pick correctly. If you would like to make your own predictions, please do so and comment.


Twitter.Com/DodgersBlog said...

Hopefully, you'll prediction regarding the Dodgers in the NL West will be correct.

Anonymous said...

zamby had a monster game!! tampa bay FTW

AwkwardTurtle said...

I like your blog. Nice article...

stefan said...

Yea, Im fairly certain now that the Dodgers will make the playoffs, so dont worry at all. And Zambrano had the best pitched game of the season, no doubt about it. Thanks a lot for looking at the blog and especially this article. I will keep posting so check back and let me know what you think. Thanks.