Greetings, salutations and all those other similar words that I'm too lazy to look up in my Thesaurus. This is your fearless Studious Metsimus prognosticator, Joey Beartran. Are you as exhausted as I am after watching those four hard-fought, tension-filled series? I'm still catching my breath after those 20 division series games!
For the record, I correctly predicted three of the four division series winners, with my one mistake coming with the Baltimore Orioles. Then again, they were biased picks, so did you really think I'd take the Yankees to win any postseason series?
So we're now down to four teams playing two series to determine this year's World Series participants. Who will advance? Who will go home to cry into their silk handkerchiefs (courtesy of the Steinbrenner Family)? And which former Met centerfielder will play in his first Fall Classic?
You know what time it is. It's time for me to pull out my stitched crystal ball and give you my biased 2012 American and National League Championship Series predictions.
American League Championship Series
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
I'm mad. If not for the Yankees upsetting the Orioles in the division series (that's right - I'm calling it an upset), we'd be watching four multi-dimensional teams in the two League Championship Series. But no, we're going to be subjected to the Yankees playing for the American League pennant for the umpteenth time. Fortunately, they'll be playing the Detroit Tigers, a team that has a great offense and a great pitching staff.
Need a homer? Check. The Tigers have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who combined to produce 74 HR. Need a high-average hitter? Check. Four of the Tigers' regular starters batted .300 or higher. Need an ace starting pitcher? Check. The Tigers have two bona fide aces in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The twosome combined to go 33-15 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a whopping 470 strikeouts in 426 innings pitched. And they're going to make a minimum of four starts in this series.
What do the Yankees have? They have a handful of players who struggled to hit .240 for the season. They have ten players who reached double digits in homers, but only one of them reached 100 RBI (and he needed 43 homers to do it). They also strike out. A lot. Their 1,176 whiffs was the highest total in their storied team history. And they'll be facing the Tigers' "K Kombo" of Verlander and Scherzer four or five times.
The Yankees do have CC Sabathia, who accounted for half of the Yankees' six wins against the Tigers during the regular season. But because he pitched in Game 5 of the ALDS, he will not make more than two starts in this series, with one of those two starts coming on three days rest. Disadvantage Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers were lucky to get by the inexperienced Orioles. They won't have that same luck against a playoff-tested Tigers team, a team that has won four postseason series since 2006, including last year's ALDS over the Yankees.
Prediction: Tigers in 7.
National League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
What do Joaquin Arias, Guillermo Mota, Xavier Nady, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro have in common? They're all former Mets who make up 20% of the Giants' postseason roster. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have only one former Met on their postseason roster, but what a postseason he's having.
Carlos Beltran is doing FOR the Cardinals in October what he used to do AGAINST the Redbirds in the playoffs. In the five games against Washington, the ex-Met reached base 13 times, including all five plate appearances in the deciding fifth game. Beltran's eye-popping splits (.444/.542/.944) against the Nationals were similar to what he used to produce against St. Louis in the postseason. As an Astro in 2004 and a Met in 2006, Beltran combined to hit seven home runs in 14 postseason games versus the Cardinals. He also reached base 30 times and scored 20 runs in those 14 games. There's no reason to believe he can't continue his postseason success against another of his former teams in San Francisco.
Although San Francisco does have a fantastic pitching staff, the Reds still scored 21 runs in the five division series games. St. Louis, on the other hand, scored 29 runs in the three games they won against Washington. As good as the Giants' pitching staff is, they're going to have their hands full against Beltran and Co. Plus, as we were reminded in Friday night's Game 5, you can never count the Cardinals out of any game or series.
Prediction: Cardinals in 7.
That does it for my American and National League Championship Series predictions. Be sure to come back next week when I give you my World Series picks, which should feature the Tigers and Cardinals if I'm correct.
Now excuse me while I ponder the one mistake I've made so far with my postseason predictions. If only the Orioles had used Jim Johnson a little less in Games 1 and 3. If only I could have gotten to the Orioles' dugout in time to cut the phone lines to the bullpen, like I tried to do in the photo above. If only...