Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Ingredients for a Champion

Batter Up September 23rd, 2007
The formula for success in the post season is simple. Pitching wins championships. A World Series team must have at least one hard thrower in its starting rotation. At the back end there must be a flame throwing eighth inning reliever, then a reliable closer to seal the deal.
The White Sox won a championship with pitchers Jose Contreras and Bobby Jenks. The Red Sox won with Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. The Angels became champs with John Lackey and Troy Percival. Last year St. Louis won with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
This year the contenders in the AL all have the ingredients for a championship.

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The Red Sox have the hard thrower in Josh Beckett. The former Marlin has been through October baseball before. Beckett seems to get stronger as the days grow shorter. Relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Timlin are reliable. If I’m Terry Francona struggling righty Eric Gagne doesn’t see much action.
The Yankees have the starter in Chien-Ming Wang. Rookie Jaba Chamberlin has lifted the whole ‘pen with his extraordinary work down the stretch. Even though he is no longer invincible Mariano Rivera is the most dominant closer in playoff history.
The Angels again have Lackey heading the staff. Between lefty Darren Oliver and righties Ervin Santana, Justin Speier, and Scott Shields the Halos should be able to get the ball to closer Frankie Rodriguez.
The Indians are my dark horse team. Lefty CC Sabathia has a shot at 20 wins. Fausto Carmona can dominate with hard stuff. Jake Westbrook has an outstanding sinker. The ‘pen is the wild card. If Rafael Betancourt can continue his break through season next month and closer Joe Borowski can keep his meltdowns to the bare minimum, Cleveland can surprise.
The Angels have played better ball this year against the Yankees (6-3) than the Red Sox (2-4). Depending on who wins the AL East and who has a better record between the Indians and the Halos, the last weekend of the season could become very interesting.
Cleveland is 0-6 vs. the Yankees in ‘07. If the Tribe can avoid a match up with the Yankees their chances of reaching the World Series improves dramatically.
Home field advantage in the AL is critical with all the playoff hopefuls dominating in their parks. I expect the fight for the extra home game to continue to the last game next Sunday.
In the National League with the final playoff spots still up in the air the Padres and Cubs might be the strongest teams in the NL.
San Diego’s Jake Peavy has the arm to dominate in a short series. Set-up man Heath Bell throws in the high 90’s. Veteran closer Trevor Hoffman is the all time saves leader. Starters Chris Young and Greg Maddux can be counted on for six solid innings.
As they have been all season the Cubs are the mystery team. Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano has the arm to be a playoff legend, but unfortunately the emotional stability of Britney Spears. Lefty Ted Lilly has quietly put together an outstanding season. Hard throwers Bobby Howry and Carlos Marmol set up Ryan Dempster, a closer who often tests his manager’s patience.
The Mets rely on starters Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Oliver Perez. Red flags are waving around the Mets ‘pen. The Diamondbacks look to pitcher Brandon Webb. Arizona’s relief pitching is excellent. The Phillies look to the heavens for help. The Brewers hope they can out slug the opposition for one more week. The Rockies need 10 more games.

The first team to win 11 playoff games is the champion. The ingredients are there for one outstanding month of baseball this fall.


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