Ok - I spent all that time creating projected lineups, and they keep changing, so I'm going to put that on the back burner, and just go ahead and dive right into the projections. You know where to find rosters and lineups, you don't need my help.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Initial Irrelevant Thought: The Rays comeback got more press because of the Red Sox component. The Cardinals was more impressive.
This is the classic Pitching vs. Hitting matchup. The Phillies had middle of the road offense and the best pitching, by far, in the NL. The Cardinals had the opposite, with an average pitching staff held up by the NL's top scoring offense. So, does good pitching beat good hitting?
This series brings another element to that dynamic, with the post-Bonds generation best hitter (Albert Pujols) against the post-Pedro generation best pitcher (Roy Halladay). These matchups are what will make this, in my mind, the most exciting of the first round series.
The Cardinals needed to use Chris Carpenter on Wednesday, so he'll be available only once in the series. I think that's enough to make up the difference, as the Phillies are just too tough to beat in succession.
Prediction: Phillies in 4.
Milwaikee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Initial Irrelevant Thought: A Brewers vs. Diamondbacks playoff series? That's kind of cool. I hope people watch.
The Brewers took some flak for their offseason strategy, trading several prospects and focusing on this season. It seems to have paid off though. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks seemed well into the depths of a rebuilding program, but GM Kevin Towers quickly rebuilt the bullpen, and youngsters Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Justin Upton all took big steps forward.
The Diamondbacks are a nice story, but the Brewers have the advantage in talent. Their defense is mediocre at best, but they have both great pitching and an excellent offense. Gallardo, Greinke and Marcum make up the playoff's second best top 3 this side of Philly, and Prince Fielder has a huge potential contract to motivate him.
Prediction: Brewers in 3
For the record:
Milwaukee over Philly in 7 in the NLCS
Milwaukee over Detroit in 6 in the World Series.