Linkage: 2008 ALDS Previews
October 1, 2008 Leave a comment
Alright, time to get your postseason on. I won’t give a full treatment here, since there are already so many excellent previews out there. Here are a few of my favorites:
Rich Lederer and Patrick Sullivan talk Boston-Los Angeles ALDS at Baseball Analysts.
Another article on key players and matchups over at Baseball Digest Daily Blog.
David Pinto looks at how this season’s games between the two clubs turned out.
If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic as a Red Sox fan, there are a few over at The Hardball Times.
Baseball Think Factory’s got a good summary paragraph or two.
As for my thoughts: If we had a healthy Sox team, I’d say we win in 4. You can’t ignore the best run differential in baseball (by a big margin). But there are other factors. The latest I have heard is that J.D. Drew feels “100% ready” to go, while Mike Lowell can hit but is still hobbling a bit in the field. Add in Josh Beckett’s oblique strain and pitching just once in the 5-game series, and suddenly things aren’t so clear any more. The health of these three is critical to the outcome of this series.
Make no mistake, these are two very good teams and pretty evenly matched. Yes, I know the Halos owned the season series, and the Sox have owned the recent postseason historically, but I fully expect it will go the full 5 games this time around. As it so often does in October, I believe this series will come down to who pitches better and plays defense better.
Ervin Santana is the best single pitcher in this series (this season), edging out Jon Lester. However, Lester is matched up against John Lackey, not Santana. A healthy Beckett is better than Lackey, but I will call them even because of the oblique strain. That will take some velocity off, and likely force Beckett to go to his secondary pitches more. Daisuke Matsuzaka, for all his wildness, is a good deal better than Joe Saunders, who benefited from a very low .266 BABIP against this season. I know Dice-K’s BABIP against is .258, but his stuff is better, and he’s more proven. Saunder’s true ERA should be something closer to 4.46, while Matsuzaka’s is more like 4.17. If Beckett can get through this strain, and if Dice-K delivers, the Sox have a great shot at taking this ALDS.
The Angels have an impressive collection of talent here in Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo. I am not impressed by at all by Darren Oliver, despite his career year. You might give the Halos the edge here, but they are overrated. Remember that they play in a pitcher-friendly home park, plus there are cracks in this bullpen. Rodriguez is walk prone, and has proved vulnerable against Boston lately. Arredondo is a rookie, and we’ll see how he responds to the pressure of October. The Sox answer with Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen. I don’t worry about Paps at all; he’s gotten knocked about lately because he was relying on his fastball and it was publicized. That was primarily to save his arm for the playoffs. Now that we’re in October, you’re gonna see more slutters and chageups from him, plus a harder fastball. I guarantee it. I put Javier Lopez in the same class as Oliver. The slightest of edges to the Angels.
The Sox would have the clear advantage here if not for injuries. People are talking about Big Papi’s down year and Manny Ramirez being gone, but they forget that even with all the injuries, this lineup was 2nd in the AL in runs, and 3rd in all of baseball. And that wasn’t all before the trade, either. They were 2nd overall in August and 7th in September (tied with the Angels without both Drew AND Lowell). Don’t underestimate this lineup, and remember that they can match up with the Angels’ speed. I’d say the Sox have improved a lot on the bases by replacing Manny with Jason Bay. The Sox have a deeper bench as well, so that helps lessen the impact if Lowell and/or Drew can’t go. Slight edge to the Sox here.