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Dodgers versus Mets!
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New York Mets: 97-65, 834 RS/731 RA
LA Dodgers: 88-74, 820 RS/751 RA
The Dodgers won their final seven games to reach the postseason, but they needed to pitch 40-year old Greg Maddux on three days rest to do so. Brad Penny is unavailable for the series with a bad back, and Nomar Garciaparra is day-to-day with a strained oblique.
Normally, this would be a case of rest versus rust on the Mets' side, but they have managed to enter the playoffs nearly as banged up as the Dodgers have. Pedro is out eight months, and now El Duque is questionable for game one with a calf injury. Normally I would say that he had no business opening a playoff series anyway, but the repercussions could be dire. Either 40-year old Tom Glavine must start on three days rest in game one or have potential games four and five each pitched on three days rest. This presumes that they do not want to use Pirate rejects Oliver Perez or Dave Williams in a playoff game.
This Mets team actually reminds me of the 2000 White Sox. That squad enjoyed a relatively injury-free season and coasted into the playoffs. Bu once in, there were injury questions surrounding much of their already suspect rotation. They were easily swept by a comparable Mariners club.
I don't think that these Dodgers will sweep the Mets, but they are a much better team than most people realize. I don't just say this because I predicted the Dodgers to win 97 games and sweep the Mets in the first round of the playoffs before the season started. The Dodgers have several players who even exceeded my expectations for the team, particularly on offense.
I knew that the Dodgers had an A+ farm system, but I had no clue that James Loney would hit .380 in Triple-A before posting a .901 OPS with the Dodgers. Speaking of .900+ OPS hitters, Olmedo Saenz came out of nowhere to do just that in 179 at bats. If you had told me that Marlon Anderson would hit seven homers in 64 at bats this year, I would have asked you what the name of this new steroid was.
Then there's also the law of averages. Between Drew, Kent, and Nomar, you had to figure that at least one would fail to play 100 games or simply fall on their face due to worn out bodies. that didn't happen. The numbers put up by Loney, Russell Martin, and Andre Ethier aren't out of line with what we'd expect given their minor league history, but it is improbable that all three would immediately find that success in the bigs.
Basically, the Dodgers now have a lineup without one superstar, but with incredible balance top to bottom and depth behind it. As the '98 Yankees or 2001 Mariners could tell you, that is an offense designed for consistent run production, and therefore designed to win a lot of ballgames.
Pitching-wise, LA has a better front three than the Mets, but the same problems afterward. They do, however, have a deeper bullpen that could help them if a starter does need to go on short rest. The Dodgers are going to win, but a long series could really exhaust them and make them suspect for subsequent rounds.
Prediction: Dodgers in four
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at email@example.com.