In this year of the pitcher, the League Divisional Series have been low scoring with 9 of 13 games staying UNDER the Total through Sunday. And 2 of the games that went OVER could easily have stayed UNDER but for a blown save by reliable Giants’ closer Brian Wilson in game 2 of their series against the Braves and for the comedy of errors that took place in Philadelphia’s game 2 win over Cincinnati.
The first 13 games of postseason play have produced a total of just 84 runs, just under 6.5 per game.
As if the Phillies needed any additional edges they will get to set up their rotation exactly as desired for the NLCS which begins on Saturday with ace Roy Halladay making his first start since tossing a no hitter in his first postseason game last Wednesday against Cincinnati. It is expected that Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will start games two and three with perhaps Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick starting game four if the Phils decide against a three man rotation.
The Yankees have already announced a four man rotation with CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A J Burnett starting in succession. Sabathia will start the series opener on Friday at either Tampa Bay or Texas.
The Yankees and Rangers met 8 times in 2010 with the home team winning 7 of the 8. New York swept Texas in a 3 game home series in mid April before the Rangers took 4 of 5 from the Yankees over two series in mid August and mid September.
Four games went OVER, 3 stayed UNDER and there was one no decision as the teams totaled 72 runs in the 8 meetings, an average of exactly 9 per game.
Tampa Bay won 10 of 18 meetings with the Yankees as the home team and road team each won 9 times. There were 13 OVERs and 5 UNDERs but note that each of the first 8 games went OVER. The teams totaled 187 runs in the 18 games, an average of 10.4 per contest.
A Yankees vs. Rays ALCS would be a matchup of the last two American League pennant winners. The Rays lost to the Phillies in the 2008 World Series before the Yankees defeated the Phillies to win the World Series last season.
If the Rangers ousted the Rays in Tuesday’s game five of the ALDS it would mark the first postseason series triumph for Texas which has been the only current franchise to have never won a post season series.
The Yankees overall experience, especially with the core of their roster, is an edge over both the Rangers and Rays and are the prediction to advance over either. The call is for the Yankees to get past Texas in 5 games and to get past Tampa Bay in 6. The Yanks must open and play the first two games on the road against either team.
With Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes pitching so well in the ALDS the Yanks must be considered as having an overall pitching edge to go along with their powerful lineup. That makes the Yanks playable as underdogs in any game against any starter or if favored by -120 or less against Tampa’s David Price or Texas’ Cliff Lee. The Rays and Rangers would be playable as underdogs of +150 or more against any Yankees pitcher or as underdogs of +120 or more against Price or Lee.
The UNDER would have to be considered for play before any OVERs given how the season as a whole and how the postseason has shaped up. But UNDERs would be playable only at Totals of 8 or higher.
Philadelphia is the prediction to advance against either San Francisco or Atlanta with a series against the Giants likely lasting longer than one against the Braves.
The Phillies and Giants split 6 games this season with the Giants winning 2 of 3 at home in late April and the Phils duplicating that feat at home in mid August. The Totals were evenly split with 3 OVERs and 3 UNDERs as the teams scored a total of 56 runs, an average of 9.3 per game.
The Phillies took 10 of 18 meetings against Atlanta in 2010 with the home team winning 11 times. There were 7 OVERs, 10 UNDERs and a PUSH as the teams combined to score 141 total runs, an average of 7.8 per game.
The Phillies’ trio of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels rates a decided edge over Atlanta’s Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe. The edge is less against the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, especially with Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito available as a fourth starter and for long relief.
The Phillies have a huge edge on offense against both potential foes and also have a solid bullpen, especially with the injury to Atlanta closer Billy Wagner in game 2 of the ALDS against the Giants. San Francisco also has a very solid bullpen with Brian Wilson’s game 2 blown save the exception rather than the rule in 2010.
The Phillies are strong enough to justify laying up to -200 at home and -150 on the road in starts by Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels against other than Lincecum, Cain or Hudson. Against that trio chop off 25 cents before playing the Phillies. The Giants are playable as underdogs of +130 or more in starts by other than the Phillies’ top trio, either at home or on the road.
Again the UNDER is the preferred Totals play with the stipulation that the Total be no higher than 7 in a matchup of Halladay, Oswalt or Hamels against the Braves’ Hudson or Lowe or versus the Giants’ top three starters. In other matchups us 8 as the highest Total to play UNDER.
Next week we’ll reassess the ALCS and NLCS based on matchups.