Preview and Predictions for AL first round.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays took the #1 seed in the American League by playing every matchup perfectly throughout the season.  Dealing with injuries up and down the lineup and rotation they seemed to find the right mixes to be successful no matter what.  They will face an opponent that knows them very well in the Toronto Blue Jays.  

The Blue Jays have a powerful lineup, seeing a surge from Lourdes Gourriel Jr. over the last month to go along with Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez.  Toronto actually has the advantage on the offensive side, averaging 5 runs per game.  The Blue Jays offense will be the lone advantage they have in this series.

Tampa Bay marches out a rotation of Blake Snell in GM1, Tyler Glasnow in GM2 and Charlie Morton in GM3.  Their rotation along with the best bullpen in baseball will be enough to hold down the Toronto offense.  Tampa Bay’s offense plays the matchup game very well and will be too much for the Blue Jays. Toronto’s best chance will be in game two when they have off-season signing Hyun Jin Ryu who brings some experience in a playoff setting, but the Rays have some great right-handed bats that will thrive. Rays are built for this situation. 

Pick: Rays in 2

Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees narrowly avoided a matchup with their “daddys” in 2020 the Tampa Bay Rays.  Instead they get the Cleveland Indians and potential MVP and guaranteed Cy Young winner Shane Bieber in game one.  Bieber versus Cole in game one will be a classic matchup of two bulldog pitchers that will go deep in the game and the first one to miss a spot is going to likely give up the game. The big problem for the Indians is that their lineup doesn’t feature nearly the amount of hitters that can provide the big pop when needed. 

Cleveland’s pitching will give them a chance but their team batting average of .228 and a major lack of power ranking 27th in the league in team ISO.  Jose Ramirez has carried the offense of late but he will need help against the powerful Yankee bats.  New York is healthy again and has the horses in the bullpen to clean up any trouble the starters run into.  Indians don’t have enough to pull this one out. 

Pick: Yankees in 3

Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros

The Twins have not won a playoff game in a very long time, losing 16 straight playoff games dating back to 2004.  This series should give the Twins their first game win and series win.  The Astros have dealt with a loss of injuries in 2020, yet somehow found themselves in the playoff due the new expansion. Houston has been offensively challenged at times in 2020.  Recently seeing a resurgence of power with George Springer and Alex Bregman.  Still the Astros have a team ISO ranking 18th in the league and team batting average of .240 ranking 20th in the league.  

Minnesota has the advantage with their rotation for the first two games going with Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios in the first two games.  At this point the Astros have only announced Zack Greinke as their game one starter with the other TBD.  Minnesota loves right handed pitching, as a team they are #1 in the league in overall home run percentage versus righties.  That is a big factor in the Minnesota offense as they are a team that thrives on scoring runs due to the long ball.  

The Astros haven’t announced who will start game 2 or game 3 yet, my money would go on Framber Valdez to offset Minnesota’s dominant numbers against right handed pitching. The Twins have more depth in the bullpen, rotation and lineup.  They have to get over the mental hump of consistent playoff losses.  They have the talent and should make quick work of the injury riddled Houston Astros. 

Pick: Twins in 2

Oakland Athletics vs Chicago White Sox

I’ve reviewed the Oakland Athletics numbers over and over again and still can’t figure out how the Athletics score runs.  Horrible seasons from Matt Olson, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano, coupled with losing Matt Chapman for the season has left the lineup underwhelming. The pitching staff has stepped up to mask the offensive problems.  The Athletics bullpen has been impressive, leading to the Athletics having a record of 27-0 when leading after the 7th inning.  Liam Hendricks, Yusmeiro Petit, and Jake Diekmann have been lights out for the Athletics all season.  

The Athletics are going to go with Sean Manaea in game one despite the immaculate White Sox record against left-handed pitching. Breakout starter Chris Bassit will likely pitch game 2. Oakland is going to have to get a lead early and that will be tough against the White Sox top two starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. 

The White Sox offense is better in nearly every single position bat for bat and if they are able to grab a lead I can’t see the Athletics offense being able to come back.   Chicago has found a niche in the back end with Alex Colome being set up by Matt Foster, Aaron Bummer and their new weapon rookie Garrett Crochet.  The White Sox have more talent and better pitching.  The Athletics have the experience.  The talent will win out in a short series.  

NFL coaches that have to be fired.

Football is always built around overreactions.  The shortest professional sports season means every game is given ample time to critique each and every decision.  Coaching careers can be dictated by their ways of adjusting from week to week.  

Matt Patricia – Detroit Lions

I believed that Matt Patricia was going to finally commit to the run last year. Kerryon Johnson looked like a future star that could take a lot of the pressure off of Mattew Stafford.  Utilizing the run has all but disappeared due to the lack of the ever having an actual lead.  

Patricia’s record is a  dismal 9 – 23 since taking over in 2018.  While win/loss records can have asterisks needed around them due to injuries, notably last year, when Mathew Stafford missed most of the regular season it’s the complete ineptitude of the Lions on the defensive end that has to force the hand of the organization.  Patricia came to Detroit as the former defensive coordinator of the vaunted Patriots.  In his first season with Detroit the Lions ranked 16th in overall team defense.  It was middle of the pack and somewhat acceptable in his first season.  In year number two The Lions declined to 26th in the league.  

The Lions collapse in the 4th quarter of game one of the season was an example of the decline of the organization.  The Lions continually add talent to the team on both ends of the ball but the leadership has not been able to find the right mix to be successful.  The NFC North has been up for the taking over the last few seasons, but the Lions continue to take no steps forward.  

Dan Quinn – Atlanta Falcons

Dan Quinn has been in Atlanta for six years. He took them to a superbowl in 2016 where they infamously blew a lead to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Quinn followed up the superbowl appearance with a 10-6 record in 2017.   Since then the Falcons are 14-18 and have lost games in ways that will make their teams puke.  

Atlanta has wasted one of the best offenses in the league over the last two years.  In 2018 the Falcons actually ranked top ten in the league in total defense but they gave up a staggering 401 yards per game. The defense was way worse in 2019 and has continued to give up yards in the first two games of 2020.  They inexplicably play man to man coverage allowing teams to pick apart the secondary of their choosing.  The lack of defensive adjustments is staggering to watch.  

The Falcons blew a lead to the Dallas Cowboys this weekend due to the stupidity of the coaching staff.  The refusal of Dirk Koetter to lean on the outside zone runs is baffling.  The Cowboys were dealing with multiple injuries that opened up the possibility of running out the clock. 

Quinn is a problem because he refuses to make the changes to coaching concepts.  A team that continually gives up big leads has no other option but to blame the head coach. 

Adam Gase- New York Jets

The New York Jets seem like a cursed franchise.  An organization that has a great history in the league is snake bitten by bad decisions.  The worst of those decisions could be maintaining the services of Adam Gase. 

Gase was the coach in Miami when they drafted Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill had zero progression in his time with Gase, he actually lost his job and eventually found himself in Tennesee.  Now away from Gase, Tannehill has established himself as an offensive threat.  Gase’s inability to connect with his team and quarterback could not only hurt the organization but waste the talent of Sam Darnold.  Darnold’s numbers on paper aren’t horrible but his decision making seems to continue to be a problem.  That shows a lack of preparation from the coaching staff.  

The Jets picked up Le’Veon Bell last season and instead of focusing the offense on the premier runningback, they focused on Sam Darnold continually throwing the ball.   The Jets offensive approach doesn’t make any sense.  They are going to waste a great talent if they don’t move on from Gase now.  Darnold may not get a second chance like Tannehill.  

Bill O’Brien- Houston Texans

The Houston Texans will likely find a way to win the AFC South.  That’s what they do.  Houston has had a tough start to the season, playing the defending champion Chiefs and the powerful Balitmore Ravens. Excuses will come his way but we can never forget that he has had tons of problems with relationships with his players and a history of stupid decisions.  

No matter what happens this season, he moved DeAndre Hopkins and didn’t even get a first round pick.  Brandin Cooks, Joey Galloway and Percy Harvin are just a few of the wide receivers that all were moved for first round picks.  This is unforgivable. 

Oh and the fake punt last year against the Chiefs.  Just plain stupid.  How does this guy really have a job right now?

How to fix the St. Louis Cardinals offense.

The Cardinals have featured some of the best pitching in all of baseball. Despite a lot of injuries to the bullpen the birds have gotten terrific performances from Kwang Hyun Kim, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber and pretty much everyone they have called on to replace the injured mainstays.  The Cardinals offense on the other hand has been the epitome of frustrating.  Yesterday’s double header highlighted  the struggles of this team as they were not able to pull out game one despite an amazing performance from KK.  With the trade deadline passed and their super prospect Dylan Carlson being given up on until 2021, there are really only internal options to consider.  What can they do? Here are a few suggestions. 

Move Tommy Edman down and Brad Miller up versus righties. 

Brad Miller’s power is legit.  A former 30 homer player always has had the ability to send the ball over the fence but he is not a guy that can be the protection for Paul Goldschmidt by batting behind him.  Miller has the second highest OBP (.390) on the team and the highest slugging percentage on the team (.490).  He has shown the ability to get on base by doing more than just hitting homers.  Edman has been hitting the ball well lately but he has an inability to get on base at a consistent rate.  Miller has a 12% walk percentage versus righties compared to 4% for Edman.  

Miller being put in a spot where he is protected by Goldschmidt will force him to get more pitches to hit.  This can help the entire lineup because more men on base is like have a powerful bat behind you.  The more runners on the more they are forced to piutch to him.  Inserting Miller in front and DeJong behind is worth the effort to try and get more at-bats for your hitters that are actually producing.  (Hopefully DeJong can produce)

Carpenter leads off versus lefties.

Matt Carpenter has sucked for a while.  It seems like his 2018 near MVP season was actually a decade ago and he is just hanging on to finish out his contract.  Carpenter still has the ability to get on base, while St. Louis needs power; but they have to take advantage of the positives that each player brings to the table.  Despite his issues hitting lefties his consistency at getting on base does not go away.. In a small sample size of 2020 he has a OBP of .389.  His numbers in 2019 are what grab my attention, Carpenter was able to keep his OBP at .343. Carpenter is not producing at the level the team needs but if you are going to continue to give him at bats then he needs to be put in a situation that suits him best. 

Play Rangel Ravello or Tyler O’Neil 

The Cardinals need more power.  They are last in the league in homeruns and ISO.  Baseball in this era has been built on on-base percentage and power.  The Cardinals have had problems driving in runs in scoring position, the addition of two power bats in the middle of the lineup would help them get those runs across the plate. 

Ravello’s position is a problem,  he is a negative defensive player in the outfield.  If you place him beside Harrison Bader you should be able to hide his defensive issues somewhat.  His .478 sluggin percentage in the minors would be a welcomed asset in the lineup.  He has to be given the chance while Carlson continues to find consistency and Lane Thomas figures out what he is. 

Tyler O’Neil has his issues but what do the Cardinals have to lose at this point.  Put O’Neil in the lineup and let him find his swing.  Give this dude at bats and he will drive the ball over the fence.

Eastern Conference Championship Preview and Prediction

The Miami Heat have had the luxury of sitting by the pool watching as the Boston Celtics grinded out a seven game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.  Boston’s bench is already much shorter than the Miami Heat and they will truly be tested in this matchup.  Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra has no problem running a 10 man rotation that allows them to keep up the pressure on the defensive end, while still having dynamic players that can put the ball in the basket.  

Boston will be in their second conference title game in the last three seasons.  They have the experience of being there but are still led by young stars on the offensive end and will have constant pressure put on them by a couple of different defenders that bring length and tenacity.  Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguadola and Tyler Herro are all guys that can defend the perimeter, driving shooters toward Bam Adebayo in the middle.  

Key Players-

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

Dragic has been an underappreciated player during his entire career.  After spending most of the pre-bubble season in a bench role he was inserted as the starter and has not looked back.  Dragic was a dominant force in the first round, slicing up the Pacers averaging 22.8PPG, 5 APG and shooting 40% from three.  He continued his offensive onslaught in the semifinals, dissecting the best defensive team in the NBA the Milwaukee Bucks.  Dragic shot 44%, averaging 19.8 per game.  

Boston had issues with Kyle Lowry throughout the last round and Dragic has multiple weapons that Lowry doesn’t have.  If Boston chooses to put Marcus Smart on Dragic that will leave Jimmy Butler to be guarded by either Jaylen Brown or potentially Jayson Tatum. That is not where you want your two biggest scorers on the defensive end.  

Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics

Kemba has not been in this situation since his time at UCONN.  His performance during the Eastern Conference semi-finals was not great.  Averaging 17 ppg, shooting just 27% from three, Walker was not at the top of his game and it won’t get any easier against the stout defense of the Miami Heat.   

The Heat will have Jimmy Butler working against Jayson Tatum which means the offens will have to come through Walker.  If Walker can perform as the dynamic scorer we know he can be it will open up shoots for the young stars Boston will have to lean on for offense. 


The Miami Heat have a lot of momentum coming into this matchup.  Boston’s lack of depth is my biggest concern in this series.  The lack of rest that you get while in the bubble will be a problem for a Celtics team that just doesn’t have the guys on the bench that can give their stars the chance to take a breath and not find themselves in a bad spot.

Boston will have a huge problem matching up with Bam Adebayo in the middle.  He has been a force versus Boston in every matchup averaging a double double in the three games this year.  His ability to put Daniel Theis in foul trouble early means that they will be forced to either go small or utilize the still developing Robert Williams.  Adebayo will have his run of the middle, especially if Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler drive the middle the way I believe they will be able to do.  

The Celtics feel like this is their time to win the East but they face a team that is just deeper and havs more scorers then they have faced in the last two rounds.  While the Celtics may think this is their time the Heat are on a mission led by the most tenacious player in the league.  The depth will win out and Jimmy Butler and his squad will find themselves in the bubble finals. 

Prediction- Heat in 7

Ranking the top trades of the deadline.

Honorable Mention:  Orioles receive Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin for Mychal Givens

Padres get Trevor Rosenthal for Edward Olivares (Both winners)

5. Mariners get a great haul for Nola.  Add Ty France,Taylor Trammell, Andres Munoz and Luis Torrens.

The longest running rebuild currently in baseball took a huge step forward during the trade deadline swapping out Austin Nola for four players that may be mainstays in the future of the organization.  

The Seattle Mariners picked up the best prospect in the trade market; Taylor Trammell.  Trammell was the same guy that was moved last season for Trevor Bauer, he now finds himself on his third team in the last two seasons.  It’s not a lack of talent that has kept him on the move it’s the value he brings to the table.  Projecting as a future leadoff hitter he could be given a chance to play in the majors earlier than most predicted but he should pay off in the long run for Seattle. 

Ty France is a major league ready player that was blocked at both corner infield positions for San Diego.  It’s likely that France will take over full time at first base for the Mariners asap. 

Andres Munoz is a power arm that will not see the field until late 2021 due to Tommy John surgery, this guy is a future closer if he can stay healthy.  100mph fastball and a nasty slider.  Go check out this guys stuff. 

4. The Reds bolster the bullpen with Archie Bradley.

The Reds were a sleeper team to take the NL for most people after their huge offseason adding Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to go along with arguably the best top three starters in all of baseball. Their one achilles heel has been the depth and consistency of their bullpen.  

Offseason addition Pedro Strop has not worked out well as he has officially been sent to their secondary site while fan favorite Michael Lorenzen has been a complete disappointment.  Cincinnati has the fourth worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball, they needed help and they went out a got it by picking up Arizona reliever Archie Bradley.  Bradley’s exterior numbers don’t look great.  His ERA sits at 4.22 with a WHIP of 1.50 in his ten games this season.  What is intriguing about Bradley though is his FIP is just 2.01 and his K/9 is 10.1.  In Great American Ballpark you have to have swinga and miss stuff and Bradley brings that to the table. 

3. Starling Marte to the Marlins.

No one would have thought that the Marlins would be buyers at the trade deadline but they surprised us all when they went out and grabbed one of the best available bats in Starling Marte. Marlin’s outfielders have been atrocious in 2020 hitting .215/.308/.326.  The addition of Marte puts a legit star in the middle or top of the lineup.  Marte’s .382 OBP makes him an immediate threat in front of Garrett Cooperm Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson. 

2. The Padres add Austin Nola, Dan Altavilla  and Austin Adams.

The Padres did a lot to improve themselves during the deadline.  The highlight of their trade with the Mariners was no doubt Austin Nola, I will get to him.  Austin Adams will join a bullpen that has some of the best arms in baseball.  Adams has struck out 51 batters in 31 innings in 2020, holding a WHIP of 1.09.  Adams will be a middle inning phenom to help get to Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Pomeranz and hopefully the returning Kirby Yates.  

Austin Nola has emerged as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball in 2020.  .306/.373/.531 slash line puts him at elite level for his position.  San Diego has a deep lineup that just got way deeper.  He brings a lot of pop to backup the stars of the lineup.  

1. Padres add an ace.  Mike Clevinger. 

The Padres offense has taken off ahead of schedule in 2020.  Fernando Tatis Jr. has emerged as the future face of baseball and the assets around him have begun to take shape into a serious contender in this shortened season.  

Clevinger joins a rotation that already includes two potential superstars Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet.  They now have a threesome that can go up against the powerful roster of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Padres will now become a team that no one wants to play in the opening round series that are just three game series.