Tom Verducci The Tigers have the best pitcher (Justin Verlander), the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and the best manager (Jim Leyland) in this series. Texas has the deeper lineup and deeper bullpen, which plays well in a long series. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Jon Heyman Even though I picked the Rangers to go to the World Series at the start of the year, I like the Tigers now. Justin Verlander (who didn't have to pitch in Game 5), Max Scherzer and Doug Fister give them an edge. TIGERS IN SIX.
Joe Posnanski This is a toss-up series, but Tigers stars Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera seem like they?ll be the difference-makers on the mound and at the plate. TIGERS IN SIX.
Joe Lemire Other than a Matt Moore-induced blip last series, the Rangers are red-hot, going 17-3 over their last 20. Ace C.J. Wilson isn't Justin Verlander, but overall the starting staffs are similar, given the second-half surges from Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, not to mention Colby Lewis' strong postseason track record. Texas has the better (and certainly deeper) bullpen, too. RANGERS IN SIX.
Albert Chen Texas is the more complete team, with a deeper bullpen and lineup. Detroit has Justin Verlander, but the Rangers have their Mr. October in Colby Lewis (4-0, 1.67 ERA in five career postseason starts). RANGERS IN SIX.
Ben Reiter Detroit now has the batters to keep pace with Texas. The Rangers were third in the majors in runs scored during the regular season, the Tigers fourth. But it is their superior pitching ?- beginning with Justin Verlander, against whom Texas hitters are hitting a combined .198, and ending with closer Jose Valverde, who is 51-for-51 in save opportunities this season -- that should give them a slight edge in a hard-fought series, and leave the Rangers wondering what might have been had Cliff Lee stuck around. TIGERS IN SEVEN.
Cliff Corcoran Six close games followed by Colby Lewis and Doug Fister facing off in Texas. The Tigers out-homer the Rangers in that game and claim their second pennant in the last six years. TIGERS IN SEVEN.
Joe Sheehan Top-to-bottom depth shows in the Division Series win is their strength. They can win with the rotation or the bullpen, high scoring or low, with power or a touch of smallball. Justin Verlander gets them once, and that's all. RANGERS IN FIVE.
Mel Antonen Even if Justin Verlander, the Game 1 starter, gets only two starts, the Tigers have all the right pieces to get to their first World Series since 2006. The Tigers' dominating September went unnoticed. There is every reason to like their rotation and bullpen. Their offense can handle the Rangers' pitching. The Tigers will have momentum, and the Rangers will be rusty. Offensively, Delmon Young is out with his oblique injury, but Miguel Cabrera is a force and Jhonny Peralta will be the Tigers' RBI leader in this series as they knock off the defending AL champions. TIGERS IN SIX.
Ted Keith The Tigers have had the best record in baseball over the past two months and just beat the team with the American League?s best record. They also have the best pitcher in the league in Justin Verlander, the best hitter between either of these two teams in Miguel Cabrera (and maybe the second-best in Victor Martinez) and a perfect closer in Jose Valverde. Those factors will provide the slim edge they need to beat a talented Texas team. TIGERS IN SEVEN.
Tom Verducci Home-field advantage is just too strong to ignore here. Should be a very entertaining series, especially with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder making cases about who is worth more money. BREWERS IN SIX.
Jon Heyman It's tough to pick against a team that just knocked off the 102-win Phillies. The Cardinals are playing like they have nothing to lose. Plus, they have Albert Pujols, who batted .350 against Philadelphia and is a lifetime .359/.444/.663 hitter in NLCS play with eight home runs. CARDINALS IN SIX.
Joe Posnanski Look for Zack Greinke, who will start Game 1 for Milwaukee on full rest, to be a huge factor in this series. BREWERS IN SEVEN.
Joe Lemire Milwaukee, which has home-field advantage in this series, has been nearly invincible at Miller Park. It sports the better and deeper bullpen. And it has Ryan Braun, who's the hottest hitter on the planet (he batted .500 with a nearly .900 slugging percentage in the NLDS). Those are recipes for postseason success between two teams who are otherwise well matched. BREWERS IN SEVEN.
Albert Chen Much is being made about the Brewers' home-field edge, but if St. Louis can take either Game 1 or Game 2 in Milwaukee, it'll be in control of the series and won't have to go back to Miller Park at all. CARDINALS IN FIVE.
Ben Reiter Yes, things were even during the regular season, but the Cardinals won five of their last six against the Brewers. Included was a three-game sweep in Milwaukee at the end of August, and that, their final-month surge to the Wild Card and their stunning first-round upset of the Phillies, showed that this is a different team that it was for most of the year, one that can outhit anyone and keep up with anyone?s pitching. While Milwaukee?s lineup seems to have a few dead spots, St. Louis?s doesn?t. CARDINALS IN FIVE.
Cliff Corcoran The home team continues to win all of the Brewers' playoff games until they run into Chris Carpenter in Game 7. CARDINALS IN SEVEN.
Joe Sheehan Another classic in which many of the games are decided late by the bullpen and benches. Tony La Russa's deeper bullpen and longer lineup ends up being the difference. CARDINALS IN SEVEN.
Mel Antonen This is a tough series to call. Each team is coming off a breath-taking Game 5 first-round win. They don?t like each other. Pitching is even. The Cardinals have season edge in runs, but when they split 18 games, the Brew Crew outscored the Cardinals 71-64. The Brewers have home-field advantage and the most home wins (57) in baseball, but that doesn?t bother the Cardinals, whose 45 road wins are second-most in the majors. CARDINALS IN SEVEN.
Ted Keith For the third time since 2004, the NLCS is a Central-ized affair, with both two NL Central teams deciding who will advance to the World Series. The Brewers and Cardinals split their 18 regular-season games, with St. Louis pitchers posting a 3.43 ERa and the Brewers a 3.38 team mark. The Cardinals hit 18 home runs, the Brewers 17. With teams that evenly matched, it will come down to home-field advantage, and that's a big edge for Milwaukee, which will avenge its loss to St. Louis in the 1982 World Series. BREWERS IN SEVEN.
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