10/11/2022 8:22 AM
Article By: Ben Sinins
My prediction last week of a St. Louis Cardinals World Series victory and Albert Pujols MVP trophy was short-lived. Oh, well. As this fantasy ends, another can be dreamed up. This is just another example of how baseball is often unpredictable and does not always end how we hoped. So this week let’s focus on the NL Division Series matchups of the Braves vs Phillies and the Padres vs Dodgers.
My Predictions: Dodgers over Padres; Braves over Phillies
Unbelievably the Dodgers’ bats are even more impressive. At the top of the lineup card, we have Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman. These guys have a combined BA of .297 with 282 RBI and 77 homers. Then the Dodgers bring out former Brewster Whitecap (2015) Will Smith. Smith has been outstanding this year. He has played great defense at catcher while batting .260 with 24 home runs. The order also features outfielder Chris Taylor who played for th Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (2011) and infielder Max Muncy who played for the Wareham Gatemen (2010).
The Dodgers’ opponent in the next round is no pushover. The Padres match up favorably to the Dodgers and have strong bats, fielding and pitching. Having Manny Machado and Juan Soto says a lot about the lineup. Add to that pitching aces Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell. The Padres just beat the Mets in the Wild Card in 3 games. San Diego boasts a complete team, and pitcher Musgrove was so dominant in the final game the Mets desperately asked for a substance check. Former Cape Cod players with the Padres include Jake Cronenworth who was an Orleans Firebird (2014), Austin Nola, who played for the Harwich Mariners (2010), Sean Manea, who played for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (2012) and Pierce Johnson, another former Harwich Mariner (2011). Despite this Padres talent and momentum, the Dodgers will advance.
The other matchup - Braves versus Phillies - also features tons of former Cape players and offers some great excitement. The Philadelphia Phillies lineup features studs Kyle Schwarber (Wareham Gatemen 2012) - who has 46 homers in 2022 - Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins (Falmouth Commodores 2013) - .246 BA with 30 jacks - and J.T. Realmuto. Starting pitcher Aaron Nola (Harwich Mariners 2012) has had a terrific year with a 3.25 ERA in 32 games started. Other starting pitchers Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suárez have also been exceptional for Philadelphia this year. Wheeler is likely their best performer, with a 2.82 ERA over 26 starts. Other Phillies who played on the Cape are Bryson Stott (Wareham Gatemen 2018), Matt Vierling (Harwich Mariners 2017), Alec Bohm (Falmouth Commodores 2017) - solid .280 BA - and Garrett Stubbs (Cotuit Kettleers 2013).
Yet the Phillies are, in my opinion, overmatched by the dominant Atlanta Braves roster. The Atlanta Braves offense is led by shortstop Dansby Swanson (.277 BA), Austin Riley (38 HR), Matt Olson (103 RBI) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (29 SB). Their pitching staff includes Kyle Wright with 21 wins and Kenley Jansen with 41 saves. They also have Max Fried who has a 2.48 ERA and Charlie Morton with 205 strikeouts. Yet the most dominant arm has to be 23-year-old Spencer Strider (Falmouth Commodores 2018). In only his second season in the MLB, Strider has been an absolute dynamo for the Braves this year. He currently has a 2.67 ERA with 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. He was also just signed to a six-year deal by the club. The Braves roster also includes pitchers AJ Minter (Cotuit Kettleers 2014) - 70 IP with 2.06 ERA - and Bryce Elder (Wareham Gatemen 2019) - 54 IP with 3.17 ERA.