Category: 2013 MLB Predictions

10/05/13

2013 MLB Playoffs - AL Division Series: Rays vs Red Sox

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Tampa Bay Rays (92-71) vs Boston Red Sox (97-65)

Boston rebounded from AL East worst in 2012 to baseball's best record in 2013. What a difference one year and one competent manager can make. Boston is a team on a mission. Solid hitting, solid pitching, solid base runners, solid defense = 97 wins. Gutsy Tampa Bay does it all with a limited budget and fairweather fans (dead last in home attendance). Yet, this teams plays fundamental baseball behind a talented manager and strong pitching staff.

Pitching:
Boston rotation - Lester (15-8), Lackey (10-13), Buchholz (12-1) & Peavy (4-1). Tampa rotation - Moore (17-4), Price (10-8), Cobb (11-3) & Hellickson (12-10). Red Sox won season series (12-7). Rays facing a powerful top to bottom Red Sox attack. Sox feature strong starters and lights out bullpen. Edge: Boston.

Offense:
Red Sox stocked lineup will give Rays pitchers fits. Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli, Gomes, Saltalamacchia, Drew & Middlebrooks form one of baseball's best lineups. Speed, power, timely hitting & playoff experience can score in bunches. Red Sox hitters will not be denied in this series.
Rays weaker lineup manages to get the job done but is no match for a slugfest -CF Jennings, 2B Zobrist, RF Myers, 3B Longoria, DH Young, LF Rodriguez, SS Escobar, 1B Loney, C Lobaton/Molina. Rays manufacture runs. Heart of the order is clutch but will have a tough time keeping up with Red Sox attack.

Prediction: Red Sox dominated in regular season. Rays clawed and scratched their way into playoffs. Red Sox are the better team. Sox in 4.

10/03/13

2013 MLB Playoffs - NL Division Series: Braves vs Dodgers

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Atlanta Braves (96-66) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)

Pitching:
Bring on the heat. Both of these NLDS pitching staffs feature flame throwers. Dodgers with Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and relievers paced by closer Kenley Jansen. Kershaw & Greinke represent the best 1-2 punch in this year's playoffs on paper. Don't crowd the plate against Braves starters Medlen, Teheran & Minor. Fire baller closer Kimbrel saved 50 of 54 and sports a career 15.1 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Probable rotations: (LA) Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu vs (Atl) Medlen, Minor, Teheran.

Offense:
Dodgers enter the series with two big injuries. Matt Kemp is inactive. Andre Ethier will only be used as a pinch hitter in NLDS. LA's Game 1 lineup: LF Crawford, 2B Ellis, SS Ramirez, 1B Gonzalez, RF Puig, 3B Uribe, CF Schumaker, C Ellis. Dodgers offense was banged up early on in 2013. Ramirez & Kemp missed time with injuries. Puig was still playing minor league ball. Manager Don Mattingly seemed only moments away from being replaced after LA stumbled to a 30-42 record. LA caught fire when Puig joined the lineup. Their lineup was juiced once Ramirez returned. Before you knew it LA finished the year 62-28 and Mattingly went from potential firing to Manager of the Year candidate. Timely hitting & lights out pitching is their theme.
Atlanta decided to keep Uggla off of their roster ... by choice. Uggla was miserable at the dish batting an anemic .179. His defense at 2B will be sorely missed. Braves opening lineup: CF Heyward, RF J. Upton, 1B Freeman, LF Gattis, C McCann, 3B Johnson, SS Simmons, 2B Johnson = 4th highest run production in NL.

Prediction: Kershaw & Greinke are just too tough in a best of five series. Dodgers play much better defense too. Dodgers sweep.

10/02/13

2013 MLB Playoffs - NL Division Series: Pirates vs Cardinals

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Ready, set, go. National League Division Series Playoffs begins Thursday night in St. Louis. Pittsburgh scorched the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in a one game Wild Card to advance.

2013 is Pittsburgh's first playoff appearance since 1992 and Pirates fans were ready, willing and able participants. They're boisterous energies taunted Cincinnati's starting pitcher all night. Perhaps their energy caused an ineffective Cueto to drop the baseball in between pitches? Now it's off to play the Cardinals in NLDS action.

Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

Pitching:
Bucktober baseball opens up with A.J. Burnett who went 3-1 against the Cardinals this season taking on Adam Wainwright (1-0 in 3 starts vs Pit). Both hurlers feature knee buckling off speed stuff to compliment electric fastballs. Hitters for both teams could be in for a long night if these guys bring their A games. Bucs haven't chosen a Game 2 starter against Lance Lynn. Lirano starts Game 3 back in Pittsburgh where he's been dominant all season. Both teams employ stingy bullpens. Situational pitching will dictate the day.

Offense:
Pittsburgh is fired up. Hitters are in the zone. Lead off man Marte's hand healed and he's seeing the ball well. Neil Walker is raking. McCutcheon is MVP candidate. Morneau's due for a power surge. Byrd has been exceptional since being stolen from the Mets. 3B Alvarez is a streaky ball masher. Russell Martin crushed 2 round-trippers in the WC game. SS split of Barmes/Mercer shouldn't be taken for granted. Pirates are feeling it having won 4 straight. Big test coming up on the road against Wainwright.
Cardinals hitters have produced many thrilling playoff games in recent years. However, Mr. Clutch Allen Craig's foot injury will keep him out of NLDS action. Craig was hitting an astonishing .454 with 83 RBI in only 130 AB with runners in scoring position. Clubbing .700 with bases loaded on 7 of 10 with 20 RBI. A serious MVP candidate before injury. Probable Game 1 lineup features 55 double man Carpenter leading off followed by prime time playoff hitter Carlos Beltran (RF). LF Matt Holliday (.300) is 3rd. Allen's replacement Matt Adams at 1B slugging .505. The Cards Mr October Molina bats 5th (.373 RISP). CF Jon Jay (.351 OBA) followed by 3B Freese. Starting SS remains to be seen between Descalso and Kosma. Cards lineup is very talented, very clutch and no strangers to playoff baseball.

Prediction: Best of 5 series has all the makings of going the distance. Cards hitters possess more patience meaning they don't necessarily chase bad pitches. Cards clutch lineup feast on opposing pitchers mistakes. A deadly combination in post-season play (and for a team riding a 6 game win streak). This all goes away if Burnett's on his game but he's known to throw many pitches so fatigue factor likely comes into play. Bucs lineup is dangerous but a bit more free swinging.
NLDS destined for 5. If Liriano (3-0, 0.75 vs StL) pitches Game 5 then Bucs advance.

03/28/13

MLB 2013 Preview: Kansas City Royals

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-Digger's Daily-

Can Kansas City take the American League by surprise in 2013? It's been 27 years and counting since Kansas City's last playoff appearance. The Royals were one of baseball's top teams during the mid 1970's-80's. Royals teams recorded just one winning season since 1994. Enough is enough. Royals management has made a determined effort to win now.

New faces for 2013 - starting pitchers Jamie Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis & Ervin Santana give KC an instant boost on the mound. Add maturing young players into the mix and Royals fans have good reason to be hopeful. These guys can hit too. DH/1B Billy Butler, LF Alex Gordon, 3B Mike Moustakas, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, C Sal Perez, 2B Chris Getz and SS Alcides Escobar.

Let there be no doubt. Kansas City Royals are much improved heading into 2013. They're playing energized spring ball sporting a Major League best 23-7 record. Of course, spring training is practice ball so lets not get overly excited. Can they carry a winning attitude from spring ball to regular season play? Why not? AL Central is up for grabs. Detroit and Chicago have been tabbed as favorites. Minnesota and Cleveland fading. KC controls their own destiny this season.

Forecast: KC may have mortgaged their future to win now. They were panned for trading top prospect Wil Myers to land Shields & Davis. Another notorious slow start in April must be avoided. On paper, this team has talent and potential. A winning season well within reach. Anything less might lead to a total team shakeup in July. 81 wins a reality. Playoffs if they reach 90. Exciting days coming to KC.

03/22/13

MLB 2013 Preview: New York Mets

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2013 New York Mets has local fans dreading a return to the late 1970's. This team is not shaping up well on paper. Quite frankly, Mets ownership should be completely embarrassed on the state of baseball in Willets Point.

There's no room for error by Mets players. This squad must learn to manufacture runs one at a time. Unfortunately, many outs will be given away in a small ball game atmosphere (sacrifice bunts/caught stealing). Ike Davis needs to rebound from a 2012 first half from hell. He did well in latter months and one can only hope Davis bat is consistent from April through September this season. Fan favorite David Wright is nursing a rib injury and might not be ready opening day. There you have it. Davis and Wright as the Mets only two proven players on offense and defense. Yep, that's it!

As for the rest of the lineup: An open competition between lightweight hitters in NL's weakest outfield. LF belongs to developing talent Lucas Duda who disappointed in '12 after an impressive mid-season call up in '11. CF will be light hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Re-tread light hitting Marlon Byrd is rumored to have won spring training's RF battle. Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin to be spot starter/utility type role players.

Up the middle infield defense leaves much to be desired. Ruben Tejada (SS) and Daniel Murphy (2B) have potential to reach base. Their biggest handicap is keeping opponents from doing the same. Not much range and weak arms will drive pitching staff crazy all year long. Davis and Wright are top notch on the corners. Catching is another potential sore spot. John Buck has a career line of .235/.303/.405. He's hit over .227 only two times during past six seasons. It should be quite clear this team will need to scrap and claw for every single run in 2013. No margin for error. It can be done. Just don't bet on it. Back up Anthony Recker was a solid minor league hitter. Only 66 MLB AB's. He could be a nice surprise if given a regular chance to play.

New York Mets pitchers need to dominate every night if this team expects to win more than they lose. All need solid defense behind them. On paper, only Wright and Davis will provide help. Jonathan Niese is an All Star caliber pitcher getting better each year. Matt Harvey is another stud. Pure ace material but still must learn consistent command of stellar pitches. He's the real deal. Johann Santana still isn't 100% and will likely begin '13 on the DL. If he can regain and keep arm strength, then, Mets have a great 1-2-3. Shaun Marcum was brought in as a 4th starter and the final rotation slot has yet to be determined.

Bullpen is very deep and talented. These guys need to shut down inherited runners and not give up late inning runs. Baseball is a funny game. Mets will not be scoring often but could shock the baseball world behind strong pitching. Bullpen arms are very lively. Brandon Lyon, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and potential closer Frank Francisco (injured). Francisco is the wrong choice closing out for a deep and talented pen. I have a feeling he won't last long. The final bullpen slots yet to be determined.

Forecast: By all logical accounts the Mets are headed to 90+ losses in 2013 unless Terry Collins finds Gil Hodges old playbook lying around. Lack of defense and extra base power might make for a very long season. Don't give up on this overly picked on team just yet even when there's nothing to get excited about. Games are won and lost on the field - not on paper. If they hustle, execute small ball & pitch - then expect some late season excitement.

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