MLB 2008 Playoff Predictions – Round 1
By Chris Derosa Wednesday, 1 Oct 2008

So here we are again. After a grueling couple of months, with hopes either kept high or broken, the 08 baseball season is over. But with the end of another regular season means the dawning of a new postseason. This entire October (there’s still only one, right?) promises to be a thrilling ride of emotions, featuring the best that baseball has to offer in terms of fresh talent. With 4 teams in each league left to duke it out for a spot at the “big game”, I’m going to try and break down each match up with my “expert” analysis. This is how I think everything will play out.



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How they got here
The reigning champion Red Sox had a bit of an up and down season, mostly thanks in part to the circus act that is Manny Ramirez. When they ditched Manny for Jason Bay, a great player of a different variety, everything seemed back to normal. Except for one thing – they couldn’t beat the Tampa Bay Rays convincingly enough to take over their division. As a result they couldn’t pull ahead at the end of the season and had no choice but to take the AL Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Angels were able to put up the best record in the majors as the only team to reach 100 wins. They also clinched a playoff spot first after preying on their AL West rivals like they were nothing (the Mariners were one of the worst teams the whole season). Having the new record holder in saves with Francisco Rodriguez also helped a lot.

How they match up
To put it nicely, the Angels owned the Red Sox this year. LA has the balance in their lineup, rotation, and fielding that helps them look like the perfect team to absolutely dominate when everything clicks. Boston can keep it close, but with key injuries coming at the wrong times, they could be in trouble. To be fair, LA is a bit banged up, as well, but they’ve had the extra time to rest so they should be a bit more prepared for this series.

My prediction
It’s true that Boston usually turns on the jets when they reach the postseason, but they’re missing an important part of what makes them so valiant around this time of the year. Manny. They couldn’t beat the top AL teams well enough this season to convince me they’ll be prepared for the hard hitting Angels this time around. LA wins it in 4 games.

How they got here
In a stunning comeback of sorts (which they shouldn’t have had to do in the first place), the White Sox were the first team to face three different opponents three days in a row and win those games to take back their AL Central division from the Minnesota Twins. Tampa Bay pulled off an amazing feat of their own, going from worst to first and dominating the AL East division the entire season to help them reach their first ever playoff series.

How they match up
This is almost a battle of mind over any actual physical advantages. Both teams play on their emotions, and both usually need the help of their home field to fight harder. With the White Sox you get a bit of experience and age with veterans, while the Rays have just about nothing but fresh faces with budding talent. With an even rotation between the two it just about comes down to who can make the least mistakes.

My prediction
The White Sox have been here before. They’ve won a World Series rather recently, in fact. But this is one of the few times where I say that experience will not matter as much as it maybe should. For one, the Sox are probably burnt out from playing so many games at the end of the season and fighting like mad just for this opportunity. The Rays have had time to focus and prepare and make sure that this new found success does not go to their heads. It will still be a tough match for both of them, but it also looks like whoever has the home field advantage will win. Rays take it in 5.


How they got here
The Brewers had a rough year, with a long losing streak resulting in the firing of then manager Ned Yost with only a couple weeks left in the season. But thanks to some of their talent stepping up, another New York Mets late season collapse, and the mid season acquisition of monster ace CC Sabathia, they were able to hang on and take the NL Wild Card and go to their first playoff game since the early 80’s. The Philadelphia Phillies also happened to take advantage of a Mets collapse, and won the NL East division when they had a huge September with the help of MVP candidate Ryan Howard leading the way. Their closer Brad Lidge had 41 saves in as many opportunities, a perfect streak that is very hard to come by, and as a result the Phillies remained undefeated when going into the 9th inning with a lead.

How they match up
On paper, it doesn’t look like the Brewers stand a chance. The Phillies overtake them when it comes to having a better overall starting rotation and bullpen, power and speed amongst their lineup, and a deep bench that proves to step up in clutch situations most of the time. They also benefit from playing in a huge hitters ballpark and having the home runs and runs batted in leader with Howard. Barring any serious injuries, this should be an open and shut series. Should be.

My prediction
Yet the Brewers still stand a chance. They have enough talent to squeak by if they need to, and if they reach a pivotal game 5 in the series they would most likely throw their ace out there to get the job done. Unfortunately for them, game 5 will not happen and CC will only get to pitch in one game this series. I’m giving them the win in that game, and that’s about it. Phillies in 4.

How they got here
For the Dodgers, this was a season of change. Recruiting former Yankee manager Joe Torre was just one of the steps they took to help ensure their first NL West division title in a while. They also were on the receiving end of the Manny Ramirez deal, and Manny proved to be a difference maker right from the get go. The surging Dodgers easily passed the Arizona Diamondbacks and never turned around. The Chicago Cubs are taking the best NL record to the playoffs, using aggressive hitting and strong pitching to make them just about as balanced as the Angels look. They also have an impressive record at their home of Wrigley Field, and having the home advantage throughout the NL playoffs is always a nice bonus.

How they match up
For the Dodgers and the Cubs, it should be more about who makes their weakness more available. The Dodgers have to keep hitting to survive, but the Cubs need to keep pitching strong outings and hope the ball stays in the park when LA does hit it. Expect every game to come down to the wire, as both teams are very good at late game come backs.

My prediction
The Cubs look like the heavy favorites throughout the playoffs. They have a cursed history that bears nonstop repetition, and they need to win in order to finally silence their demons. Unfortunately, that curse should stay alive yet another year. The Dodgers have two factors that should help them take over the Cubs – Manny and Torre. Both with playoff experience like no other, these two know what to do around this time of the year. Manny in the postseason is a completely different situation than in a regular season game. He’ll prove to be huge yet again, while the Cubs will have a hard time keeping up on their own front. Dodgers pull an upset in 4 games.

With 3 of the 4 series set to start today, I’m pretty excited to see how it all turns out.
Play ball! (corny, I know, but I couldn’t think of how else to end it)

8 Responses to “MLB 2008 Playoff Predictions – Round 1”

  1. Charlie Goodrich Says:

    My prediction… pain. Seriously though, Chris you’ve done good work. I don’t think the Dodgers will be able to handle the Cubs (what with their deep pitching), but they can certainly make it an interesting series. Other than that I agree with your picks. My World Series prediction: Angels vs. Cubs with the Cubs winning in a dramatic seventh game, thus, ending their 100 years without a championship. It’s a cheesy prediction but if the Phillies can’t win I hope the Cubs can.

  2. Chris Derosa Says:

    Yea I’ll root Cubs if the Phils somehow choke, but I had to pick at least one upset. It’s in my nature to be wrong every once in a while.

  3. jer Says:


  4. Zach Patterson Says:

    i agree with all your assessments, except, i think red sox win their series. the angels offense is terrible and they didn’t do much to convince me otherwise last night. also, if the cubs bounce back tonight, i could see the series swing to their favor. LA certainly isn’t overpowering. i don’t want to jinx the phils but i like their matchups as long as it doesnt go 5 games. i can see the white sox getting swept. they won a few games to get in to the playoffs but their team is built to hit homers or die. the rays pitching should run them down.

  5. Charlie Goodrich Says:

    So says Zach after the Red Sox won the first game.

  6. Chris Derosa Says:

    Yea if I saw the game before this post and knew about the recent postseason struggles the Angels have had, I may have changed my mind. But I still had to think about how dominant they were during the regular season. They can bounce back.
    The Rays look amazing right now.
    And I’m looking pretty good right now for my Dodgers pick, huh?

  7. Zach Patterson Says:

    dodgers are hot right now. looks like chicago has had its heart ripped out. im not convinced it wont go 5 yet though. dodgers are a streaky, mediocre team.

    we’ll have to do this for LCS round too.

  8. f.poopsmell Says:

    2 things:
    First, the prospect of two LA teams facing each other in the World Series makes me cry inside. Listening to non-stop blather about “the City of Angels” is in no way appealing to me.
    Second, as a true Philadelphia fan how is this for a prediction? Lidge keeps his perfect saves until the World Series, coming up huge when he needs to and winning the hearts of everyone. Then, in one of the final games, lets say Game 7, he comes in with the lead, blows it and costs the Phils the game and the series. How fast do people turn on Lidge? Welcome to Philadelphia Athletics Brad. See if anything J-Rol said earlier in the season rings true for you now.

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