NFL Picks: Week Eight

Last Week: 8-7

On the Season: 60-47

Teams on Bye: Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston

Had Carolina over @Tampa Bay on Thursday

1:00PM

Dallas over Detroit (DET by 3, UPSET)

@Kansas City over Cleveland (KC by 7, OVER)

@New England over Miami (NE by 6, UNDER)

@New Orleans over Buffalo (NO by 11, OVER)

NY Giants over @Philadelphia (PHI by 6, UPSET)

San Francisco @Jacksonville (Game in London, UK) (SF by 15, OVER)

Later Games

NY Jets over @Cincinnati (CIN by 5, UPSET)

Pittsburgh over @Oakland (PIT by 3, OVER)

@Denver over Washington (DEN by 11, UNDER)

Atlanta over @Arizona (ARI by 3, UPSET)

Green Bay over @Minnesota (GB by 8, OVER)

Seattle over @St. Louis (SEA by 13, OVER)

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NFL Picks: Week Seven

Last Week: 12-3

On the Season: 52-40

Teams on Bye: Oakland, New Orleans

Had Seattle over @Arizona on Thursday

1:00PM Games:

@Atlanta over Tampa Bay (ATL by 7, OVER)

@Detroit over Cincinnati (DET by 3, OVER)

@Miami over Buffalo (MIA by 6, UNDER)

New England over @NY Jets (NE by 4, OVER)

Dallas over @Philadelphia (PHI by 3, UPSET)

Chicago over @Washington (CHI by 2, OVER)

@Carolina over St. Louis (CAR by 7, OVER)

San Diego over @Jacksonville (SD by 8, OVER)

Later Games:

@Tennessee over San Francisco (SF by 4, UPSET)

@Green Bay over Cleveland (GB by 9, OVER)

@Kansas City over Houston (KC by 7, UNDER)

Baltimore over @Pittsburgh (PIT by 2, UPSET)

Denver over @Indianapolis (DEN by 6, UNDER)

@NY Giants over Minnesota (NYG by 4, OVER)

NFL Week Six Picks

Last Week: 8-6

On the Season: 40-37

Teams on Bye: Atlanta, Miami

Had @Chicago over NY Giants, won

 

1:00PM Games:

Cincinnati over @Buffalo (CIN by 7, OVER)

Detroit over @Cleveland (DET by 3, OVER)

@Kansas City over Oakland (KC by 10, UNDER)

Carolina over @Minnesota (MIN by 1, UPSET)

@NY Jets over Pittsburgh (NYJ by 1, OVER)

Philadelphia over @Tampa Bay (PHI by 3, OVER)

Green Bay over @Baltimore (GB by 3, OVER)

@Houston over St. Louis (HOU by 9, UNDER)

 

Later Games:

@Denver over Jacksonville (DEN by 26, UNDER)

@Seattle over Tennessee (SEA by 14, OVER)

New Orleans over @New England (NE by 3, UPSET)

@San Francisco over Arizona (SF by 12, UNDER)

@Dallas over Washington (DAL by 6, OVER)

@San Diego over Indianapolis (SD by 3, UNDER)

2013 NLCS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Matchup: #3 Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) vs. #1 St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

Regular Season Head-to-Head: Dodgers won 4-3

By the Numbers:

LAD- .264/.326/.396/.722, 104 OPS+, 4.0 R/G, +67 differential, 3.25 ERA, 110 ERA+

STL- .269/.332/.401/.733, 104 OPS+, 4.8 R/G, +187 differential, 3.43 ERA, 107 ERA+

NLDS Results:

LAD- Defeated #2 Atlanta Braves 3-1

STL- Defeated #4 Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2

 

Probable Starting Lineups (by position)

LAD– C A.J. Ellis, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Mark Ellis, SS Hanley Ramirez, 3B Juan Uribe, LF Carl Crawford, CF Skip Schumaker (could be Andre Ethier instead), RF Yasiel Puig

STL- C Yadier Molina, 1B Matt Adams, 2B Matt Carpenter, SS Pete Kozma, 3B David Freese, LF Matt Holliday, CF Jon Jay, RF Carlos Beltran

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Game 1 (10/11 @STL): Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 ERA)

Game 2 (10/12 @STL): Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA)

Game 3 (10/14 @LAD): Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA)

Game 4 (10/15 @LAD): Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (8-3, 3.52 ERA w/ LAD)

Game 5* (10/16 @LAD): Rematch of Game 1

Game 6* (10/18 @STL): Rematch of Game 2

Game 7* (10/19 @STL): Rematch of Game 3

 

Breakdown:

The St. Louis Cardinals are in the National League Championship Series for the third straight year, while the Los Angeles Dodgers are here for the first time since 2009 when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies two years in a row.

This is the fourth time the two teams have met in the playoffs. St. Louis famously beat LA in 1985 in the NLCS with help from Ozzie Smith and his “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” home run. In 2004, the 105-win Cardinals dismissed the Dodgers in four games in the NLDS. Five years later, the Dodgers swept the Cards in the 2009 NLDS.

The Cardinals finished tied with Boston for the best record in baseball while the Dodgers won 62 of their last 90 games, a 111-win pace. The Cardinals have a lot of youth and resilient veterans on their side, having won nine of 10 elimination games in the last three years. The Dodgers have a ton of star talent led by two former Cy Young winners, one possibly to add another and possibly the MVP award.

The Cardinals are at a disadvantage by not having Wainwright available until Game 3, forcing them to start two rookies against Kershaw and Greinke, even with homefield advantage. They have to find a way to win at least one of their four total starts if they’re going to force a Game 7 with Waino on the mound. The Cards are very pesky and will give the Dodgers a fight, but I think LA’s dynamic duo will be too much for this young team.

Prediction: Dodgers in 6, Kershaw MVP

Joe Girardi to stay with the New York Yankees: Total No-Brainer

The New York Yankees checked off their first goal of the offseason on Wednesday, retaining manager Joe Girardi until 2017.

The skipper signed a four year contract worth $16 million, http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/9797911/joe-girardi-returns-new-york-yankees-manager

Despite missing the playoffs twice in six seasons at the helm of the Yankees, Girardi has led the team to a World Series championship in 2009, an ALCS appearance in three of four years and three division titles. His .580 winning percentage since 2008 is the best in baseball.

After speculation that Girardi would entertain offers from his hometown Chicago Cubs, the Yankees gave him and offer that he apparently couldn’t refuse.

That’s a good thing. Girardi is still the best fit for this team, especially as it goes through its first major transition period in a long time. The lack of adequate alternatives (Dusty Baker, Tony Pena, Charlie Manuel, Manny Acta; yeah, no thanks).

Girardi’s greatest strengths as a manager includes being numbers savvy (he’s got an engineering degree from Northwestern, you know), managing the bullpen (his predecessor’s greatest flaw), and getting the most out of replacement players, as we saw this year as the Yankees somehow won 85 games without half a roster that hit 245 home runs last season.

The Yankees are going to be a much different team than in the past years. With Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retired and Hiroki Kuroda and Robinson Cano possibly gone to free agency, the prospects for 2014 don’t look too great next year at the moment, but of course that could easily change.

Regardless of who is on the roster next year, you can count on Girardi to keep this team competitive. Even with the greatest closer ever gone, he will find a way to put together a solid bullpen like he does every year, this time possibly led by David Robertson. If he has the right personnel on offense, he’ll find a way to get this team to hit enough.

The Yankees have proved to be resilient over the past couple of years, and Joe Girardi is a big reason for that. Even when things look bad, he’s been able to push the right buttons and get this team to win. Maintaining him was the Yankees’ first objective and now that’s done, and that’s a good thing for thing. Total no-brainer.

NFL Picks: Week Five

Last Week: 8-7

On the Season: 32-31

Byes: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

Had Buffalo over Cleveland on Thursday, lost

1:00PM Games:

@Chicago over New Orleans (Upset)

@Cincinnati over New England (Upset)

@Green Bay over Detroit (GB by 10, UNDER)

Kansas City over @Tennessee (KC by 3, OVER)

Seattle over @Indianapolis (SEA by 3, OVER)

@St. Louis over Jacksonville (STL by 11, UNDER)

Baltimore over @Miami (Upset)

Philadelphia over @NY Giants (Upset)

Later Games:

Carolina over @Arizona (CAR by 3, OVER)

Denver over @Dallas (DEN by 8, UNDER)

@San Francisco over Houston (SF by 5, OVER)

San Diego over @Oakland (SD by 5, OVER)

@Atlanta over NY Jets (ATL by 11, OVER)

2013 Division Series Previews and Predictions

Aside

NLDS A: #4 Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) vs. #1 St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

Head-to-head: Pittsburgh won 10-9

Numbers:

PIT: .245/.313/.396/.709, 101 OPS+, 3.9 R/G, +57 differential, 3.27 ERA, 108 ERA+

STL: .269/.332/.401/.733, 104 OPS+, 4.8 R/G, +187 differential, 3.43 ERA, 107 ERA+

Matchups:

Game 1: PIT A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA) vs. STL Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA)

Game 2: PIT Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA)

Game 3: STL Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 ERA) vs. PIT Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA)

Game 4: STL TBD vs PIT Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26 ERA)

Game 5: Probably rematch of Game 1 between Burnett and Wainwright

Breakdown: It’s very tough to call. Both teams are arguably the best in the NL. The Pirates have a very underrated pitching staff and their offense improved over the course of the season with the addition of Marlon Byrd. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have the deepest lineup in the NL even without Allen Craig and a solid but inexperienced rotation. The series may come down to the late innings and the Pirates may have the superior bullpen.

Prediction: Pirates in 5.

 

NLDS B: #3 Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) vs. #2 Atlanta Braves (96-66)

Head to Head: Braves won 5-2

Numbers:

LAD: .264/.326/.396/.722, 104 OPS+, 4.0 R/G, +67 differential, 3.25 ERA, 110 ERA+

ATL: .249/.321/.402/.723/, 97 OPS+, 4.2 R/G, 140 differential, 3.18 ERA, 122 ERA+,

Matchups:

Game 1: LAD Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) vs. ATL Kris Medlen (15-12, 3.11 ERA)

Game 2: LAD Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) vs. ATL Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA)

Game 3: ATL Julio Teheran (14-8, 3.20 ERA) vs. LAD Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA)

Game 4: ATL Freddy Garcia (4-7, 4.37 ERA) vs. LAD Ricky Nolasco (13-11, 3.70)

Game 5: Likely rematch of Game 1 between Kershaw and Medlen

Breakdown: Simply, without Tim Hudson, the Braves may not have enough arms to match up with the Dodgers’ two aces, who could have their way with the strikeout-prone Atlanta offense. The key for Atlanta is to keep it close and get a late lead for Kimbrel.

Prediction: Dodgers in 4.

 

ALDS A: #5 Tampa Bay Rays (92-71) vs. #1 Boston Red Sox (97-65)

Head to Head: Red Sox won 12-7

Numbers:

TB: .257/.329/.408/.737, 107 OPS+, 4.3 R/G, +54 differential, 3.74 ERA, 102 ERA+

BOS: .277/.349/.446/.795, 117 OPS+, 5.3 R/G, +197 differential, 3.79 ERA, 108 ERA+

Matchups:

Game 1: TB Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA) vs. BOS Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)

Game 2: TB David Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA) vs. BOS John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA)

Game 3: BOS Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) vs. TB TBD

Game 4: BOS Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) vs. TB TBD

Game 5: TB David Price vs BOS Jon Lester

Breakdown: The Rays definitely have the edge on the pitching side, and David Price may go twice at Fenway where he is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 10 starts. But they have their hands full with this lethal Red Sox lineup. Luckily, their lineup isn’t exactly made entirely of scrubs either. Tampa has to get the lead late because Boston’s bullpen has been un-hittable last few months.

Prediction: Rays in 4

 

ALDS B: #3 Detroit Tigers (93-69) vs. #2 Oakland Athletics (96-66)

Head to Head: Athletics won 4-3

Numbers:

DET: .283/.346/.434/.780, 110 OPS+, 4.9 R/G, +172 differential, 3.61 ERA, 117 ERA+

OAK: .254/.327/.419/.745, 110 OPS+, 4.7 R/G, +142 differential, 3.56 ERA, 105 ERA+

Matchups:

Game 1: DET Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. OAK Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA)

Game 2: DET Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46 ERA) vs. OAK Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67 ERA)

Game 3: OAK Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.97 ERA) vs. DET Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA)

Game 4: OAK Dan Straily (10-8, 3.96 ERA) vs. DET Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA)

Game 5: Likely rematch between Scherzer and Colon

Breakdown: It’s very tempting to pick the Tigers since they have the most star power in the playoffs, but they have some weaknesses at the bottom of their lineup and in their bullpen. Oakland does not have their problem and their offense can keep up with Cabrera and Co. if they need to. Plus their bullpen is absolutely loaded. These are the two best teams in the American League. Whoever wins this series goes onto the World Series.

Prediction: Athletics in 5.