By Brandon Sans
Looking ahead to the second half of the 2013 MLB season for the National League:
1. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are too good to miss out on the postseason. With the way things are shaping up look for the winner of the NL Central to own the league’s best record. I think all three teams will find themselves in October but look for the Reds to claim the Central once more.
2. Atlanta Braves
I’m going to make this very simple. If the Braves offense becomes more consistent than they will win the NL pennant. There is no place to go but up for the frustrating Atlanta offense. Can BJ Upton become the hitter he was in Tampa Bay? Where is the April-version of Justin Upton? Can Heyward continue to heat up? Well, if those three questions are answered look for the Braves to remind people of the 90’s.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Only one team will come out of the West. I like the Snakes but that pitching staff is going to hurt them. The only reason the Padres are in it is because everyone else has been so bad. The emergence of Yasiel Puig added some much-needed excitement into this team. With unlimited money and a win-now mentality they will do whatever it takes to assure a postseason. This division will be decided in the last game of the season.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Don’t play with me. Please. Say everyone was given 10 poker chips. I’d put all my chips on the Pirates making it to the playoffs. I want to put them to win it but I can’t. A wild card is a safe bet on them. A bet I will make.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are a Class A organization. If only two teams made it from the central I’d say the Cards and the Reds. All St. Louis needs to do is just get in the postseason. Everything is fair game after that. The Cardinals know this all too well…
San Francisco Giants
NL WILD CARD- Pittsburg Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Assuming healthy I’m going to go with Adam Wainwright vs. AJ Burnett. I see this being a good ball game. Both pitchers pitch amazingly with both being pulled somewhere between the 6th and 7th innings. Good pitching and offense. Must see game. Pirates win their first postseason round in over 20 years.
PIRATES 5 CARDINALS 4
NL DIVISION ROUND SERIES No. 1- Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta and Pittsburgh have a lot in common. Over the past couple of seasons they are both young, up and coming franchises. The only difference is Atlanta has been able to turn some postseason play out of it while the Pirates have tended to go south after the All Star Break. The teams split the regular season series 4-4 but they each had success at home. The Braves went 30 at home while the Pirates went 3-1. I’ll give this one to the Braves as they have the home field advantage.
BRAVES 3 PIRATES 2
NL DIVISION ROUND SERIES No. 2- Cincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati will get a cake walk here. The Dodgers are a good team they are just still learning that ‘team’ word. This is being written around the All-Star Break so chemistry can form but if they don’t go into the playoffs as a team that people fear they will be done. They will win the first game because of this Kershaw fellow but don’t expect much after that.
REDS 3 DODGERS 1
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES- Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves
This series will not go to seven games. One team will dominate this series. It will all be up to the Braves. If the consistent, productive Braves offense shows up you can bet on Atlanta going to the World Series. However, if the high strike-out, streaky offense comes to town just gives the series to the Reds. I need to see more consistency before I give the pennant to the Bravos. Welcome to the World Series, Cincinnati.
REDS 4 BRAVES 2