Question of the day: Which four teams will advance to the next round of the MLB playoffs? [Updated]
Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the polls and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
[Updated 11 a.m.]
Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun
The Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants will advance.
Yes, there’s American League East bias here. And I understand the Minnesota Twins are a great story and the Atlanta Braves are the sentimental favorite with their rough-edged, venerable manager taking one more swing at a title.
But in the postseason, playoff experience and pitching are the main ingredients for success. The Phillies, Yankees and Rays are the only teams to have played in the past two World Series. The Giants arguably have the best pitching of any remaining club.
By playoff time, AL East teams are already battle-tested (four of the seven AL teams above .500 played in the East). The Phillies are the best team in either league, and the Giants are the best sleeper. If they get clutch hitting, they’re in the World Series.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
There are rarely huge upsets in the baseball playoffs. No team should ever be considered a sure thing, and that’s especially true this season.
The best team entering the playoffs is San Francisco, which has four potential shut-down starters and produced a 1.78 team ERA in September, and the weakest is Texas, which could tap into a heroic run from Josh Hamilton, a leading candidate for the AL MVP Award, or Cliff Lee, who blew away teams last October.
There should be only one lopsided first-round series -- Giants over Braves, possibly in a sweep. The other three could go either way very easily, even though the Phillies and Yankees are generally seen as favorites to get back to the World Series.
I’m calling it Yankees over Twins, Rays over Rangers and Phillies over Reds in the first round, but not with a ton of conviction.
Mandy Housenick, The Morning Call
With the Phillies needing to use only H2O (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, who are 30-4 with a 2.52 ERA in 45 career games against the Reds), they should be a given to move on.
The Giants are in much better shape, healthwise, than the Braves, and shouldn’t have trouble advancing, especially with how well San Francisco’s starters have been pitching.
Even though the Rays beat the Rangers 4-2 in the season series, Texas has Josh Hamilton back and an unmatched hunger because of its lengthy postseason drought.
It’s hard to think of the Yankees, the defending World Series champions, losing in the first round, but they will. The Yankees won’t be able to stop the Twins’ running game, and New York’s starting pitching -- statistically speaking -- has been the worst in baseball since the All-Star break.