by Kevin Pulsifer
By the time our next issue comes out, the NFL will be in Week 8. Half over. I guess time flies when you’re taking midterms… or something like that. More importantly, the MLB playoffs will be almost over. Game 2 of the World Series will be starting when the Villanovan is next released.
That’s a lot of baseball to watch over the next few weeks. If every series goes the full length—as it almost did last year—then that’s 35 games that will have passed between copies of your beloved newspaper.
Since you’ll all be studying for midterms, like the good students you are, and then gone for Fall Break, I figured I’d take a trip in my time machine and give you guys all the results for the MLB playoffs a few weeks in advance…
The Dodgers will beat the Braves in four games.
Yes, Atlanta finished the year 56-25 at home. Yes, they have one of the best bullpens, and pitching staffs, in all of baseball. But besides a quick 12-1 start to the year, their winning percentage was barely worthy of playoff contention.
The Dodgers have a pitching staff that rivals the Braves’ arms, and they do it in a way that suits them better for the playoffs. They have two bona fide studs in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (who also slugged .409 this year), who are nearly guaranteed wins. The Dodgers also had the best road record in the league.
Atlanta has more depth, but because there are so many scheduled days off, it’s possible that each of those two could start seven or eight games in the playoffs. L.A. takes the first two in Atlanta, and then clinches in Game 4.
St. Louis dominates Pittsburgh in three games.
Pittsburgh has been one of the most exciting storylines in baseball this year. But they needed ace Francisco Liriano in order to even make it to the Division Series, and he won’t be able to pitch again until Game 3 against the Cards.
St. Louis’ rotation is high quality and will prove too much for the Pirates’ meager offense. Even a depleted Cardinal bullpen won’t blow the game against Pittsburgh.
Boston beats Tampa Bay in four games.
The Rays have been playing do-or-die baseball for a few weeks now, and beat some good teams along the way to a wild-card appearance. Alex Cobb was dealing last night and put Cleveland to bed.
But Boston, who saw the most pitches in baseball—nearly 1,200 more than any playoff team—will work the Rays’ staff to exhaustion.
They went 6-3 against Tampa at Fenway, and 12-7 against the Rays overall. This exciting series may be the best out of all of the Division Series, but Boston’s bats should take them to the AL Championship Series.
The Tigers survive against Oakland in five games.
Oakland is one of the most balanced teams in the playoffs. They have deep starting pitching, a solid defense and aren’t prone to offensive slumps.
That being said, they are extremely home-run dependent—something that often falls by the wayside during the playoffs, and don’t have a ton of experience. They’ll win a few games big when their bats are on… but Detroit has been powerful all year long.
Say what you want about being no-hit on the final day of the regular season, but Miguel Cabrera has had time to rest up before the playoffs and will come back to life in this series.
In the ALCS, Detroit will outlast Boston in seven games.
Both offenses are dominant, ranked 1-2 in the league in runs, hits, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and caught stealing. The deciding factor in the series will be the pitching staff with a better chance of shutting down the opponent.
The Red Sox have enjoyed the recent surge by Jon Lester, but he will be paired off with 20-game winner Max Scherzer once or twice. Call it a wash if you want, but I think there’s a much higher chance of Detroit taking both of those matchups.
When coupled with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister, the Tigers pitching staff features many hard-throwing veterans who throw strikes early and often.
The Red Sox like to take too many pitches and will find themselves in too many 0-2 counts to form long rallies. Meanwhile, their staff may not be at full strength. Jake Peavy’s ERA with Boston is over 4.00, and Clay Buchholz is not throwing as hard or striking out as many batters as he was pre-injury. The Tigers’ lineup is too deep, especially with Johnny Peralta back from his 50-game suspension.
St. Louis takes down the Dodgers in six.
I know I mentioned before that Kershaw and Greinke are almost automatic wins. Forget what I said before.
Kershaw, while finishing the season with an ERA under 2.00, went 16-9. The Dodgers didn’t always score for him—in fact, L.A. scored three runs or less in over half their games.
Three of his losses came against San Diego when he got a total of six runs of support, and only three came out of the division.Two of those came against St. Louis.
In 2013, Kershaw’s ERA was worse than 3.60 for only one team: the Cardinals. St. Louis also has home-field advantage in this series, and the longer series tend to require deep and dominant staffs.
St. Louis will take Game 1 against Kershaw, and Game 2 against Greinke. From there, it’s just a matter of holding on.
The Cardinals will defeat the Tigers in the World Series in six games.
Miguel Cabrera may be better. But he still only hit two extra-base hits in September. Carlos Beltran still has a cannon for an arm. The Tigers stole 35 bases this year. They will be a homer-or-die team, and will struggle, albeit not mightily, against rookies Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. Adam Wainwright will provide a lot of innings for St. Louis, who had a shaky bullpen in September but has found solace in new closer Trevor Rosenthal.
If you’re still not convinced, the Cards hit .330 with runners in scoring position. Second-best? The Reds, at .254. Allen Craig, who is missing time with injury but may be back in time for the World Series a la Kirk Gibson, hit a whopping .454 with RISP. It basically screams late-inning heroics, and anyone can step up.
Those of you who still want to bring up the fact that St. Louis only went 19-23 against left-handed pitching will have to face the truth: all five of Detroit’s possible starters are right-handed. The Cardinals’ winning percentage against right-handed starters would have given them 105 regular season wins.
So there you have it. The St. Louis Cardinals are your 2013 World Series Champions. I’m not going to give away who the MVP is or describe any amazing plays, that’ll just ruin all the fun.
Now you can go study for midterms without worrying about watching the games. Father Peter, when GPAs reach an all-time high this year, I expect some praise.
NOTE: In the process of using said time machine, I may or may not have affected the reality that I explained above. So if I’m wrong on any of these points, it’s because I changed the future—by accident of course.