MLB playoffs ready to start

It’s October and you know what that means, the baseball playoffs are finally here, but not without some drama. Many things unfolded last week, setting up the eight teams that will contend for this year’s top prize, the World Series. All eight are contenders and anything can happen in the playoffs.

In the American League, the Yankees fought off the Red Sox and have earned the right to take on the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have been clicking on all cylinders right now especially with their offense.

They are led by Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon. With a potent offense and solid pitching, the Angels will be a tough first round test for the Yankees. The Yankees have been to the playoffs before, and they will need better pitching from their rotation, especially from Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. The Yankees have playoff experience and this team just clicks in October. I like the Yankees the Division Series over the Angels in four games.

In the other American League playoff series, the Red Sox beat out the Cleveland Indians for the wild card and will play the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox fresh off of sweeping the Indians to end the season are lacking the confidence required to be in a series of this magnitude.

Despite having home field advantage, this team has been slumping since July. It’s hard to count out the champions from a year ago but issues with the bullpen may make it difficult to close out games, especially close one-run games.

The Red Sox will put up enough offense led by David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to counter a poor bullpen.

The White Sox need to have good pitching performances from Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia. The White Sox have enough pitching, but can they shake off the slump in time? My guess is no and the Red Sox win in 4 games.

The National League was just as close as the American League as far as teams getting in on the last day. One of those teams was the Houston Astros edging out the Philadelphia Phillies by beating the Chicago Cubs on October 2nd. The Astros have earned a date with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have been here time and time again, but usually fail. I think this year will be no exception.

The Braves have good pitching and a good offense, but they are young. Manager Bobby Cox has been forced to bring up a few rookies to play everyday.

This move will pan out in the long run for the Braves, but the short term for the Houston Astros. Good pitching by Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt will beat the youth movement the Braves bring to the table.

The Astros are designed to play a short series like this. For the Braves to win, they must score runs and hold a weak Houston offense in check. I like the Astros in a five game series.

The final series in the National League has the hottest team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals playing the San Diego Padres. The Padres finished just two games over .500 and the Cardinals won 100 games. It’s probably the biggest lopsided series this year.

Don’t count out the Padres staying competitive, but I don’t think they can win. The Cardinals have it all; a good offense led by Albert Pujols, Larry Walker and Jim Edmonds and great pitching led by CY Young award hopeful Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder and Matt Morris.

The Padres have good young, pitching that will elevate them to the top for years, but have no playoff experience. Jake Peavy is the stud of the rotation this year.

The Padres may have been the best of the west, but the Cardinals are too good for them and will win in a sweep.

League Championship Series picks:

Yankees over Red Sox

Cardinals over Astros

World Series:

Cardinals over Yankees