Friday, October 10, 2014

O's-Royals ALCS Could Come Down To 'Pens

The American League Championship Series begins tonight (8:07 PM EDT TBS)—and there are no Red Sox or Yankees anywhere in sight. FenwayNation polling shows that most of our readers are pulling for the Royals, but a former Carmine Hoser for the Birds just might be a big factor in deciding who goes to The Fall Classic. Andrew Miller (picked up from the Red Sox on July 31st) has been a force for the O's down the stretch and in the playoffs. The effectiveness of Miller and the six other Baltimore relievers—along with their counterparts in the KC bullpen—could tip the balance between these two evenly-matched teams. Said Miller, "We are confident, but who is the best is something for the media to play up. I came and joined a group that was pretty good top to bottom. I feel like if we get a lead we have a good group, one to seven. We have unique styles. I really don’t know their bullpen that well. I know they have pretty good arms and they throw really hard." Because of the stupid new Interleague scheduling, the Royals and Orioles haven't met since May 18th! So forget about the season record—it's moot. The big difference between the two is their offense—Baltimore tends to rely on HRs, the Royals are more of a small-ball, base-stealing, National League-style team. But their pitching is very similar—particularly the bullpens. Both are excellent. The wild card might be how the respective managers use their 'pens. Ned Yost has a boring, methodical sameness to his 7th, 8th and 9th inning choices. Buck Showalter will mix it up based on the situation. That probably will give Baltimore the edge: Orioles in six.