Baseball playoffs are here - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Baseball playoffs are here

Fenway Park in Boston will host the Tampa Bay Rays against the Boston Red Sox

There aren’t any 100-game winners this season, no clear standout favorite in the Major League Baseball playoffs, just a field of eight teams that are just five games apart with their records.

In the American League the Boston Red Sox lead the field, both with their record and the feeling among sports writers and fans. Detroit and Oakland won their divisions and the Tampa Bay Ray defeated the Cleveland Indians Wednesday Night to win the right to face the Red Sox in Boston.

The Rays have been tearing it up in September and now have momentum that could see them roll right through Fenway Park and over the Red Sox.

The St. Louis Cardinals will host the Pittsburgh Pirates in  Busch Memorial Stadium, one of the hardest places for a visiting team to win.

The St. Louis Cardinals will host the Pittsburgh Pirates in Busch Memorial Stadium, one of the hardest places for a visiting team to win.

In the National League, everyone was watching the Atlanta Braves lead throughout the season, until this last weekend of the season when the St. Louis Cardinals, those darn Cardinals, did what they often do at the end of the season and in the playoffs: they decided to prove they are the best team in baseball.

The Cardinals finished the season with the best record in the National League. So much for the months of chatter about the Braves having the overall homefield advantage. Once again that distinction is at home in St. Louis, MO.

For the rest of the N.L., the Dodgers won the West Division, after a mid-summer surge that saw them breaking records as they came from 12 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks to leading the N.L. West and the Diamondbacks by 11 games.

In their Wild Card Game with the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday Night, the Pittsburgh Pirates earned the opportunity to play the Cardinals, in Busch Stadium, one of the toughest places for a visiting team to score a win.

What this means for the Dodgers is that they will meet the Braves in Atlanta. As the playoff team with the second lowest record in the playoffs, the Dodgers will not have home field advantage at all in the playoffs. And yet some odds makers pick L.A. to win it all.

The L.A. Dodgers open their series against the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA.

The L.A. Dodgers open their series against the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA.

Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers against the Braves on Thursday, for the Braves Kris Medlin gets the start. Here’s the first minor upset of the playoffs: the Dodgers have the edge with the bookies, they guys who pick the favorites in the playoffs.

Baseball doesn’t like to admit it, but they  pay attention to thee odds-makers’ predictions. Sports leagues aren’t supposed to be in bed with gambling interests, but when it comes to the odds and favorites, the sports leagues listen to the prognosticators employed by the gambling interests in Las Vegas.

So, the first two starters for the Dodgers are Kershaw and Zack Greinke and that is enough to give the Dodgers the edge, not just in this series, but straight through the World Series.

Of the four outfielders for the Dodgers, one is definitely out for the post-season; Matt Kemp will not be suiting up for the rest of the year. Andre Ethier is questionable so his bat might be missing and the Cuban rookie, Yasiel Puig, has been in a slump since mid-August. That’s three big-swinging bats that are either out or questionable.

But still in the lineup are Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, all of whom spark and score on rallies. Then they have guys like Scott Van Slyke and Juan Uribe, both of whom can get a rally started or clear the bases with one swing.

Sitting in Don Mattingly’s pocket is shortstop Dee Gordon. We don’t often see him play and no one can honestly say he’s has much impact on the Dodgers’ season, but he steals bases and that could be a big deal in the Playoffs. If he’s in the dugout come Thursday, watch for him to have an impact as a pinch runner. And the one guy not mentioned so far: catcher A.J. Ellis. He’s great behind the plate and barely average at the plate, but he’s hit well against Braves pitcher Kris Medlin. Look for him to make an impact in Thursday Night’s game.

The Red Sox warming up in Dodger Stadium earlier this summer before a game with the Dodgers. Will these be the two teams we see in the World Series? (Photo by Claudia Gestro)

The Red Sox warming up in Dodger Stadium earlier this summer before a game with the Dodgers.
Will these be the two teams we see in the World Series?
(Photo by Claudia Gestro)

So this is why the odds makers have the Dodgers as the favorite in the Division Series and even to win it all. Even without Kemp, even if Ethier is also out and Puig is still in a slump, there are plenty of offensive weapons in the Dodgers lineup. And of course they have Kershaw and Greinke starting the first two games.

For me, the Dodgers playing the Braves in this first round is a good thing. Even though Atlanta won the series between the two teams this season, this is the post season and the Dodgers have played a lot of winning baseball since the Braves and Dodgers last met.

The Braves are struggling at the plate, compared to the Dodgers, Chris Johnson is hitting .321, but against Kershaw he isn’t so good: one hit in 12 at-bats. Freddie Freeman is hitting .318 and he’s a solid .500 against Kershaw, so we can expect to see Freeman get on base.

Catcher Gerald Laird is hitting .281 and is a threat to Kershaw. Outfielders B.J. and Justin Upton are normally solid hitters, but B.J. is hitting under .200 this season and neither one has had much success against Kershaw. Anything can happen of course and maybe getting featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with super model Kate Upton will give them a bump. They both have the talent to prove the experts wrong.

The Dodgers win the Divisional Series in five games — bet on it.





About the author

Claudia Gestro

Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and 93.9 FM Exitos in Los Angeles. Just so you know where her loyalty lies: Go Lakers! Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

HOME / ABOUT / CONTACT / JOIN THE TEAM / TERMS OF SERVICE / PRIVACY POLICY / COMMENT POLICY