October is finally here, so all baseball fans know that means the playoffs are about to take off. It is looking to be an exciting month, especially for those of us on campus who choose sides in the Red Sox vs Yankees rivalry. Both teams are looking strong for the postseason run and it will be a treat if they square off once again in the ALCS. But first, lets take a look at the ALDS (American League Division Series) and NLDS (National League Division Series) matchups that will be starting off this week.

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees: The Yankees, who finished the year with an impressive 103-59 W/L record, certainly finished the season on a strong note and appear to be primed for a deep run in the playoffs. Derek Jeter is a great team leader and Mark Teixeira is always a threat at the plate, he certainly did not disappoint in his 1st year wearing pinstripes finishing with 39 home runs and 122 RBI’s. New York also has a great supporting cast in the line-up, but this year the pitching has been much improved and is the main reason behind their success. C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte all ended the year with double digits in the win column and closer Mariano Rivera continues to dominate. Meanwhile the Minnesota Twins escaped with a 12th inning win in a playoff against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night after a huge comeback in the AL Central. With the series starting just one day later, Joe Mauer and company will surely be on sore legs. And top top that off, the Twins will have a tough task facing the Yankees. But as all New York baseball fans have realized in the past decade, nothing is guaranteed.

Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels: Here we are again. The Red Sox and Angels have faced off in the ALDS three times since 2002. Boston won all three series, but that does not mean manager Terry Francona and the Sox do not have concerns for this year’s matchup. Boston does possess a strong line-up, especially with Jason Bay and Victor Martinez and a solid pitching staff. The bullpen has been tremendous this year and the defense is solid. However, Boston’s fate this year will depend on the consistency of the starting pitchers. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester should come through, but the key question is whether Daiuske Matzusaka and Clay Buchholz are ready to pitch in big playoff games. Since last year, the Angels have improved greatly offensively, finishing second i n the MLB in runs scored showcasing a quality line-up from top to bottom. When it comes to pitching, LA doesn’t have a definite ace but they have four starters who are capable of shutting teams down. The X-factor may be pitcher Scott Kazmir, who was acquired earlier in the season for Tampa Bay. But if the Angels are going to win the series they need John Lackey to reverse his trend when facing the Sox, he has a 3-7 lifetime record with an ERA over 5.00 against Boston. This series looks to be dead even, but if all cylinders are clicking for the Red Sox they will be tough to beat.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: This is a series of the stars. These two teams bring a lot of talent to the field on both sides of the ball and from the dugout. St. Louis have two Cy Young candidates in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. And offensively, how can one not mention the expected MVP Albert Pujols. His presence along with newly acquired outfielder Matt Holliday makes the St. Louis line-up a scary one. In the bullpen, closer Ryan Franklin has been great over the course of the season, but he has never thrown an inning in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Dodgers had a great first half of the season, but they have struggled mightily at the plate since the All Star Break. They need more production from Manny Ramirez, who carried them in the first round of the playoffs last year. LA has some good young pitching, but no one knows who will step up when the time comes. This will be a great contest between two future Hall of Fame managers, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, which should provide us with a great series.

Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies: We have another interesting matchup between the defending World Series Champion Phillies and the Rockies, who looked like they had no chance of making the playoffs in the middle of the season. Manager Jim Tracy took over a Rockies team that was in deep trouble and became the first manager in MLB history take over a team in-season that was 10 games under .500, then went to 20 games over .500. Colorado have the tools needed to win in the playoffs and are on a unprecedented run which could easily carry over in this series. Philadelphia has been consistent all year long and bring a dynamic offense to the table, featuring Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. The one main concern the Phillies have is in the bullpen. Closer Brad Lidge was 0-8 in the regular season and had 11 blown saves. The red-hot Rockies could capitalize on this, but in the end the Phillies may have enough experience to get through to the next round.

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