Is the tension killing you? Just wait until you get to an actual game.
So playoff previews are out until tonight's game is decided. I'll hopefully have one tomorrow though for you to peruse. Today will be just some odds and ends
Live Something or Other
I couldn't NOT cover game 1 live, right? So I'll be somewhere on the internets doing just that. Do you guys prefer a Cover it Live type of thing? Is twitter good enough? Are you going to be so into the game you don't care if I'm out in the yard pruning the azaleas?
Wild Card predictions
I like the Braves to beat the Cardinals. Medlen's control plays to the Cards weakness of not being patient. Lohse's been ok but recently prone to the long ball (7 in his last 8 games) and he's not a lefty which means that middle of the Braves line-up looks much better.
Freeman OPS vs LH starters : .752, vs RH starters .822
Heyward OPS vs LH starters : .721, vs RH starters .867
Jones OPS vs LH starters : .697, vs RH starters .934
Braves get to Lohse pretty early, Medlen and pen shut the Cards down.
I like the Rangers to beat the Orioles. Both teams rely heavily on the long ball to score runs, but the Rangers hit much better, meaning they score more runs while the O's are more of a 3 homer, 4 run, watch the pen hold 'em type of team. Joe Saunders' year isn't a fluke really. He's had strikeout years this good (5.8 K/9), and walk years at least in the area of this this good (2.0 BB/9). This year he put it together. But still he's not a strikeout pitcher, and he's not a GB pitcher (43.1%), so expect a lot of flyballs and some to go out of the park. He's given up 4 in his last 4 games (and 2 solo, 2 1-run so it didn't inflate his ERA) Darvish strikes out more (10.4 K/9), gets up more GBs (46.2%), and while he had had control issues this season he's only given up 10 walks in the past 7 games, compared to 59 strikeouts. While maybe the Orioles are able to tag one, I just don't see them scoring enough to win. I see the Rangers holding a lead and steadily building on it, until busting it open knocking Saunders out. Orioles comeback but it's not enough.
Media Playoff Predictions
I've seen a fair amount of Nats World Series predictions. Of course Scott Boras' Lambchop, Mr. John Heyman, picks the Nats but he's not alone. The Nats are 6-1 in odds right now trailing only the Reds and the Yankees (and you have to figure the Yankees odds are inflated because of their popularity*) which would put them 3rd out of 6 out of the non WC teams.
The ESPN mutli-"expert" picks break down like this :
Lose in NLDS : 12
Lose in NLCS : 9
Lose in WS : 3
Win WS : 5
That's a little interesting. Those that like the Nats as the class of the NL think they are the class of the league as well. There are a fair amount though, that don't like the Nats at all. Contrast that to the American League where only 4 of the 29 have the Yankees losing to the WC winner (all Texas - only 6 think BAL will win tonight)
*not that Vegas has a Yankee bias, but more people like the Yanks and will pick them to win then should based on talent and those bets would drive the odds down
Strasburg Shutdown matters
We don't know what the playoff rotations are just yet but because of the off days the Nats could see Medlen or Lohse in Game #3 on regular rest. If Strasburg was still here I would say this
Strasburg vs #2 : ++ advantage
Gio vs #3 : +++ advantage
ZNN vs #1 : - disadvantage
Gio is basically another #1, so him versus anyone's #3 is in the Nats' favor bigtime. ZNN is like a good #2, so while you'd still like the other teams #1, you wouldn't be surprised if ZNN hung right in there. Now it's more like
Gio vs #2 : ++ advantage
ZNN vs #3 : ++ advantage
Jax/Det vs #1 : -- disadvantage
That second game is still in the Nats favor, but it's not the seeming lock it was before, at the same time what was almost a toss-up in game #3 becomes one you expect the Nats to lose.
This isn't to say that they shouldn't have shut him down, that was an injury concern, but to those that don't think it matters because Strasburg was struggling, and Detwiler and Jackson looked good, just think about Detwiler vs Medlen or Jackson vs Lohse instead of ZNN being in that game and tell me it doesn't matter.