MLB ALCS Playoff Preview
We are NEARLY down to the Final Four of the MLB playoffs 2022 but we still have the Guardians/Yankees rain-soaked series to wrap up. With that in mind, we will give you more bang for your buck this week with a running diary in real time of the Guardians/Yankees game, the NLCS prediction and, at the conclusion of the ALDS, we will give our ALCS prediction. On with the show!
Heading to the Betting Window…
#6 Philadelphia (+105) vs. #5 Padres (-120): After all the smoke cleared in the National League, we are down to the fifth and sixth seeds playing for the rights to go to the World Series. The Phillies swept the Cardinals in round one and then upended the 101-win Braves in four games to get to this point. The road was even more challenging for the Padres. First, the Padres dropped the 101-win Mets in three games in Queens and followed that up with a 4-game NLDS series win over the 111-win Dodgers. The key to this series will be pitching. The Phillies have two excellent rotation starters in Zach Wheeler, who will go in game one, and Aaron Nola, who might not be available until game three. After that, the Phillies starting pitching drops significantly. On the other side of the diamond, the Padres can send out three pitchers that can be dominant on any given night in Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. At the plate, the Padres have gotten strong performances from the back end of their lineup with the likes of Austin Nola, Trent Grisham and Jake Cronenworth combining for four home runs and 14 RBI. In addition, Juan Soto has hit the ball extremely hard thus far without results so he can erupt at any time. The Phillies, despite winning five out of six games thus far, have hit just .235 as a team. Bryce Harper has done his part with three home runs, six RBI and a .435 average. They have hit six home runs in six games but have yet to see any power from the likes of Kyle Scwharber or Nick Castellanos. The Phillies will need to score early and often to win this series. There isn’t a comparison between the two bullpens and the Padres will dominate all the close games. The Padres bullpen of Luis Garcia, Nick Martinez, Robert Suarez and Josh Hader has combined to throw 17.1 innings thus far in the playoffs and allowed seven hits and just one earned run. The foursome has also struck out 18 batters. With that in mind, I like the Padres to win this series in six games.
Game 5: Guardians at New York Yankees
Top of 1st: Steven Kwan singles off Cortes to start this game and sets a Guardian rookie record for most hits in a playoff series with 8. The Guardians go small-ball but pop up the bunt. Cortes gets out of trouble, Yankees coming up. 0-0
Bottom of 1st: Will this Yankees lineup finally break out? This will be their best chance of the series against Civale, a pitcher they hit hard this season. Bob Costas tells us that the umpire is ‘hitter-friendly’; Costas is a fountain of information, an overflowing fountain that some might want to shut off. A walk and a hit batsman and Guardians manager Francona has the bullpen on speed dial with one out. A 3-run homer by Stanton and the Guardians’ bullpen is ready to work overtime in this one. An infield single later..bye Aaron Civale. Lefty Hentges coming in, third appearance of playoffs. Costas, an obvious life-long Yankees fan, sneaks in two stories between pitches, one about the ‘86 Mets comeback over Boston and then the 2003 Yankees comeback over Boston. As a Red Sox fan, I mercifully cheer the inning ending before Costas is able to wax poetically about the ‘78 Yankees comeback over Boston. Yankees 3 Guardians 0
Top of 2nd: Guardians go down quickly 1-2-3 as Nestor Cortes continues to defy the odds as a star in the making with the looks and body of Super Mario. Yankees 3 Guardians 0
Bottom of the 2nd: Quick two outs but Judge, like Stanton, abuses that short porh in right for a home run. Now 16 of 19 Yankees’ runs in the series from the long ball. Yankees 4 Guardians 0
Top of 3rd: Guardians might have something going here. A bloop single and another one by Kwan, after three Yankees collide including Aaron Hick - why is he playing?. Two on and one out. They need a run here. Hicks has to leave the game. Will this delay hurt or help Cortes? He walks Rosario on four pitches, bases juiced for Ramirez. Best chance for the Guardians. Sac fly for Ramirez but the Yankees will take that. Cortes wriggles out of it. Yankees 4 Guardians 1
Bottom of 3rd: Trevor Stephan in for the Guardians. Need need need a clean inning! Just what the doctor ordered. 1-2-3 Yankees. Yankees 4 Guardians 1
Top of 4th: Mildly surprised that Cortes is back out there for the fourth but Boone might have the touch tonight, which would be the first time this playoff season. Francona completely misses a call he should challenge at first base and it is a 1-2-3 inning. Is Francona being out-managed by Boone? Up is down. Left is right. Yankees 4 Guardians 1
Bottom of 4th: Another 1-2-3 inning for the Guardians. If they can come back, this two-inning stint will be looked at fondly by more than just the Trevor Stephan family and friends. Yankees 4 Guardians 1
Top of 5th: Cortes back out, is Boone playing with fire? One quick out for Myles Straw, whose last hit came some time in Spring Training but Francona has stuck with him. He pops out as he continues to do the opposite of reward Francona’s faith in him. 1-2-3 inning, Cortes has it going. Yankees 4 Guardians 1
Bottom of 5th: Stephan back out there. Ron Darling just jinxes him by announcing what a remarkable postseason he’s had. He promptly walks Torres ahead of Judge. Torres steals but Francona chooses to face Judge and they get the K. James Karinchak now in the game. Rizzo singles in Torres. This may not be Francona’s night. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Top of 6th: Loaisiga on the hill now and gives up two-straight hits. With one out, Naylor was unable to rock the baby as he lined out to short. Guardians leave two on. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Bottom of 6th: Karinchak still in. After an out, a hit batsman and a bloop hit sends up Yankees folk hero Matt Carpenter as a pinch hitter. This has a make or break feel to it. Karinchak digs out of it, a glimmer of hope remains with nine outs left. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Top of 7th: A one out single is followed by yet another Straw out. Guardians down to their final 7 outs with Kwan up. Inning over, stretching in the Bronx. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Bottom of 7th: Judge, who looks like he may be breaking out of his slump, slams a single to center to start the inning. After getting two outs, Francona goes to his closer, Clase. Clase blows away Donaldson. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Top of 8th: Clay Holmes is on in the 8th for Yankees against the Guardians 2-3-4 hitters. Holmes looks like he may be rounding back into form as its three up and three down in the 8th. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Bottom of the 8th: A quiet 8th for the Yanks. Three more outs for the Yankees and its on to the ALCS. Yankees 5 Guardians 1
Top of the 9th: The Yankees new, improbably closer Wandy Peralta is on. He gets a weak ground out from the Baby Rocker to start the inning, much to the delight of the Yankee Faithful. Arias legs out an infield hit with one out. Peralta strikes out Gimenez. Suddenly, the burly lefty looks like Sparky Lyle in 1977. Sorry, blame it on Costas for that reference. Base hit by Maile. Two on but not to worry, Costas says Straw is 0-for-3 but it just feels like he’s 0-for-200. He grounds out. Ball game over, ALDS over…not a chance I’m doing that chant! Yankees 5 Guardians 1
#2 Yankees (+145) vs. #1 Astros (-175): While the National League has been all about the lower seeds and the wildcard teams advancing, the American League Championship series has gone true to form with the #1 Astros squaring off against the #2 Yankees. The Astros got to this point relatively easy with a sweep of the Mariners. They have their rotation all set up for this series while the Yankees come in after a hard-fought five-game series. Verlander and Valdez are set to go in games one and two. Verlander is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Yankees this season while Valdez allowed just two hits in six innings in his only start against them. The Yankees will likely have to counter with Luis Severino in game one and either Cole on three days rest on Thursday or Taillon. Houston went 5-2 against the Yankees when, quite frankly, the Yankees were at their best. New York comes into the series still hoping that DJ LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi will be available. Matt Carpenter got two plate appearances against Cleveland but doesn’t look like a player ready to play a full game. Two other question marks are reliever Scott Effross and starter Frankie Montas. Houston is healthy and rested. They have been to the World Series three times in the last five years and still would like to remove the stain of their tainted 2017 title. With the likes of Alvarez, Tucker and Bregman hitting well, they will get that chance again this year. Take the Astros in 5.
*Current Odds to win the league are in parenthesis, courtesy of draftkings.com