Friday, May 5

Late Series Capsules: 5/5/06 - 5/7/06

So I've made yet ANOTHER change in how I'm doing these. Instead of giving a preview of each series, I'm opting instead to just focus on what I feel are five series to watch, in order from least important to most important. This was partially done because it was, well, it was easier on me. In addition, there are certain series that unless you're a fan of those teams (or you have a fantasy team with players from those teams on it), there's no reason for you to care at all. (I'm looking at you, Pittsburgh @ Washington.)

To make up for this, what I'm doing instead is covering those selected five series a little more in-depth to give the the reader a better overview of what's going on in the series. The research is now more directed, and hopefully this'll give a better view on what's going on. Thoughts? Let me know!

#5: Atlanta Braves (12-16, L2, 3-7 in last 10) @ New York Mets (19-9, W2, 7-3)
Pitching Matchups:
5/5: Davies vs Trachsel
5/6: Hudson vs Zambrano
5/7: Sosa vs Maine

For the Braves:
Sure, it looks like a mismatch on paper against the Braves, seeing as how the Mets are hot and the Braves, well, aren't. But the Braves have always done well against the Mets, winning 2 of 3 at Shea last month. The key to the Braves' success in this series is going to be getting to the Mets' starters.

The Braves are fortunate enough to not have to throw out absolute dreck (Sosa is an exception), so they'll hold a small advantage in starting pitching. All the Mets' starters are reachable, and if their starters can hold the Mets down for 5-6 innings at least, this could be good news for the Braves. A series victory is more likely than you think. Davies won his last start against the Mets. Hudson's been HOT lately.

Can Francouer hit? Or walk? Or do something useful? There's the issue.

For the Mets:
They're hot, but they lack a little bit of a psychological edge. While their pitching is on the short end of the stick this time around, their hitting is well above the Braves'. They hold the homefield advantage, too.

There's no reason why they shouldn't win 2 out of 3, really. Sosa is certainly reachable, and they can probably get to Davies if Trachsel can throw a decent game. Of course, can Trachsel throw a decent game? If he can, they should rock the house against Sosa, and boom, there's your series victory. A win against Hudson would be nice, but probably a little unexpected.

#4: San Francisco Giants (14-14, L1, 4-6) @ Philadelphia Phillies (14-14, W5, 6-4)
Pitching Matchups:
5/5: Cain vs Floyd
5/6: Wright vs Madson
5/7: Morris vs Lieber

For the Giants:
Well, they're on a little bit of a skid, but there's no reason why they shouldn't walk out of here with 2 out of 3. Their pitching is a fair amount stronger than the Phillies' pitching, and even with that, their offense isn't too much worse. Cain and Wright are better than their counterparts (Cain especially).

Can they put up enough runs? Probably. It's an offensively-themed ballpark and two pretty bad starters. Of course they can. Win one, lose one, and you've got a decent chance at worst in the Sunday game. Sure you can pull this out.

For the Phillies:
Bad pitching? Eh, we'll just mash the crap out of the ball instead. They're hot - even with Floyd and Madson going. That'll hurt, but in that ballpark, they can put up a 5-spot in a hurry with the lineup, too. They need to be at the top of their offensive game early on, because otherwise they could be down early.

Slug their way past the first two games and then you have a small advantage at home with your ace going. A sweep isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility.

#3: Cincinnati Reds (20-9, W1, 8-2) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (16-13, W5, 8-2)
Pitching Matchups:
5/5: Ramirez vs Webb
5/6: Arroyo vs Vargas
5/7: Williams vs Hernandez

For the Reds:
Hell, I don't know. Arroyo's been lights-out for them, as has Harang. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me why they're as hot as they are, but 8-2 is 8-2 over the last 10. Things are just falling right for them.

In this series, they're going to have a tough job against Webb. Aside from that, though, runs should be plentiful. Their best avenue against Webb is get him to throw a ton of pitches early, wear him out, then rip the bullpen to shreds. Not exactly an original game plan, but a game plan anyway. That and hope Brandon Phillips gets hot again.

For the Diamondbacks:
They're doing better than expected, not to mention riding one heck of a hot streak going into this series as well. Their gameplan shapes up almost exactly like the Reds' gameplan; nail the starters early and often, and hope Arroyo goes into a high pitch count early.

The good news for the D-Backs is that the Reds' bullpen isn't that great. Weathers has done better than expected, but that's also because nobody really expected him to get save opportunities, either. It's always easy to exceed expectations when nobody has any.

Look for a fair amount of 8-6 games and the like. Best offense wins.

#2: Houston Astros (19-9, W3, 6-4) @ Colorado Rockies (16-13, L1, 6-4)
Pitching Matchups:
5/5: Buchholz vs Kim
5/6: Rodriguez vs Jennings
5/7: Nieve vs Cook

For the Astros:
Say what? They're on a roll, and Wandy Rodriguez has been pitching over his head lately. If that continues, great, but this has some signs of a false start. Of course, since Rodriguez (and a surprising Taylor Buchholz) are both pitching, we'll see what happens.

In their favor, the Rockies have sucked at home. They can sneak a couple again here. Of course, one of these days, Coors is going to become Coors, and on the surface, this looks like it could be a series of 10-8 games. In reality? Maybe just 6-4.

For the Rockies:
That 16-13 record? They're 10-5 on the road. What? Yeah, they're 6-8 at home. The homefield advantage Rockies are 6-8 at home. That won't last.

Now's as good a time as any to change that. The "bottomfeeders" of this division are on top, and this is a great opportunity to take the challenge presented by the Astros and show that this team is legit. Todd Helton is coming back on Friday, too.

#1: New York Yankees (15-11, W2, 7-3) @ Texas Rangers (17-12, W6, 7-3)
Pitching Matchups:
5/5: Mussina vs Padilla
5/6: Chacon vs Loe
5/7: Wang vs Tejeda

For the Yankees:
Congrats! Your pitchers are actually better in this series! A-Rod returns, too. Exciting for the home fans, I'm sure. Again, look for a hot team in a hot environment with hot hitters to cut these guys down. 4 runs has been their magic number of late - but I'd be surprised if they can win with anything less than 6.

Their main advantage is throwing Mussina in the first game. They luck out and get the back end of Texas' rotation. This means more chances to get to the bullpen early and often.

For the Rangers:
Their work is cut out for them. Again, they're hot - hotter than the Yankees - but that might not be quite enough. They're battling uphill with their pitchers, although not as much as you think. Padilla and Loe haven't been half bad. Again, like a lot of the better series this weekend, it's going to come down to hitting.

And the Rangers? They can mash. No reason they shouldn't take 2 out of 3.