LCS Predictions

Posted: 10/10/2014 by levcohen in Baseball

Since I just wrote about all four teams in my LDS reviews, I’m going to try to keep the League Championship Series previews pretty short. Both of these matchups are hard to pick, and the NLCS in particular seems like a coin-flip. Who will win each series?

Baltimore Orioles over Kansas City Royals in six: The Orioles are favored in this series, but not by much. You would get +115 odds on the Royals to win the series, which means if you bet 100 dollars you’d win 115. To put that in perspective, the smallest underdog in the first round was the Orioles, who were +135. Meanwhile, Kansas City was +175 in round one, so Vegas basically is calling this a coinflip. This has been characterized by many as a power vs. speed matchup. The Orioles led baseball with 211 homers, 25 more than any other team. Meanwhile, the Royals were last at 95, 10 fewer than any othe team. While Kansas City led baseball with 153 steals, Baltimore was last with just 44. But in picking the Orioles over the Royals I’m not just going with power over speed. I’m also going with the better manager (Buck Showalter over Ned Yost), and the better all-around offense. Nelson Cruz has been the best playoff hitter in baseball over the past half-decade, and that should be no different in this series. The middle of the order of Adam Jones-Cruz-Steve Pearce is exponentially better than the Lorenzo Cain-Eric Hosmer-Billy Butler the Royals will throw out. And although the Royals have advantages in the bullpen and defensively, the Orioles have an above-average bullpen and good defense as well, so Kansas City’s advantage won’t be as big as it was against the Angels in the ALDS. This really comes down to the Baltimore’s lineup against Kansas City’s rotation. If James Shields and the Royals can neutralize Cruz and Co., the Royals will be able to score enough against Baltimore’s subpar rotation to win the series, but I think the O’s will have enough offensive success to take the series in six.

San Francisco Giants over St. Louis Cardinals in six: I’m surprised that the Cardinals are favored in this series. Yes, they have homefield advantage, but the Giants look like the better team. St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright is dealing with an elbow injury, and there’s been talk that Lance Lynn might start game one instead. Meanwhile, the Giants have an ace in Madison Bumgarner who’s been pitching like Clayton Kershaw. Advantage Giants. I also think the Giants have the deeper lineup, although they don’t have Mr. October Matt Carpenter on their side. Carpenter’s not going to keep hitting like Reggie Jackson, though, and I think the Cards will slow down offensively and play more like they did during the regular season (NL low 105 homers) than they did in round one. Both teams are driven by star catchers, as both Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are both great defenders and hitters. In a postseason now without many star players, those two might be the biggest stars left, and the fact that they play the same position makes things more interesting. If the Cardinals have the edge defensively, it’s not by much, as both finished with good-but-not-elite UZRs (the Royals and Orioles finished first and second in UZR respectively, by the way). The Giants also have the better manager, with Bruce Bochy serving as the more creative and open-minded manager than former catcher Mike Matheny of the Cardinals. San Francisco has the lineup advantage and the rotation advantage, although both advantages are small, and the better manager. That should be enough for this team to take a game in St. Louis and then win at home against the only remaining team that had a losing road record. Giants in six.

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