Go all the way back to our season preview section in March and you know how I'm going to pick both versions of the League Championship Series. I picked the World Series as a "reverse of 2009" and I'm staying with that. That means I got the Yankees over the Rangers (I'm going to say six games) and the Phillies over the Giants (I'll say in five). Here's how I see it shaping up:
ALCS: Yes, the Yankees have lots of question marks on the mound, headlined by Game Four starter A.J. Burnett and the middle relief. But CC Sabathia is an ace, Game Two starter Phil Hughes has been unbeatable in Arlington and Andy Pettitte is simply the winningest pitcher in postseason history. The offense continues to be strong and I think they'll really benefit from their quick division series win. Whereas a lot of rest isn't normally a good thing, this Yankees team has been pretty beat up all season. Guys like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner really needed some down time and should be in better shape now.
The Rangers, of course, are riding their hopes on Cliff Lee but the Yankees will only have to worry about him in Game Three. Unless it goes to Seven. That's the issue. The Yankees cannot let this one get to Game Seven, where Lee would be waiting again. It was a huge boost for the Yankees' hopes that the Rangers blew their two home games against Tampa Bay and had to go back to the Trop for Game Five. You have to love C.J. Wilson's transformation from bullpen to starter and the Rangers have feel-good stories like manager Ron Washington and veteran Michael Young but they're no match at the plate. Nor are they a match for Mariano Rivera in October.
NLCS: The only team in the NL that can approach the Phillies' big three of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels is the Giants. Will any pitching matchup in recent time have more hype than the Game One showdown of Halladay and Tim Lincecum? Must-see TV. The Phillies are on a mission to become the first NL team since the 1940s to get to the World Series three straight times. I just don't see any way they're stopped now. They've won 30 of their last 38 games and seem to be far and away the best team remaining in the postseason. I'm thinking the World Series doesn't go past five games no matter which AL team they would play.
Pretty amazing Philly lineup now that it's healthy. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard were all out for spells and that really accounted for the Braves' division lead that stretched into August. I can't really get excited about a Giants lineup featuring the likes of a journeyman like Aubrey Huff. Great closer matchup between Brad Lidge, who looks like vintage 2008 again, and Brian Wilson. I'm not expecting a lot of blown leads late.
So those are my picks. Be sure to make yours in our polls below.
taggedALCS | NLCS