Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 4:43 pm

ALDS Game 1 preview: Matt Moore vs. C.J. Wilson


By Evan Brunell

Rays at Rangers: 5:07 p.m. ET, Rangers Ballpark, TBS


Rays Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Sean Rodriguez SS 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 B.J. Upton CF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Evan Longoria 3B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Ben Zobrist 2B 4 Michael Young 1B
5 Johnny Damon DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Kelly Shoppach C 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Casey Kotchman 1B 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Desmond Jennings LF 8 Yorvit Torrealba DH
9 Matt Joyce RF 9 Craig Gentry LF
  Matt Moore LHP   C.J. Wilson LHP


Wilson vs. Rays: The left-hander made three starts against the Rays in 2011, throwing up a pristine 2.08 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. Wilson struck out 24 and walked eight -- and two of those starts were back-to-back at the beginning of September, so Wilson and the Rays are quite familiar with each other. Could that added familiarity hurt Wilson?

Perhaps not -- only Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez have any type of success against Wilson. Matt Joyce does as well, but has just two at-bats against Wilson so it's difficult to derive much from that. (Not as if Shoppach's seven at-bats and Rodriguez's 11 are much more.) No other Rays hitter has an OPS higher than .498 against Wilson in their career.

Moore vs. Rangers: Moore has never faced the Rangers, as the rookie only has 9 1/3 career innings in the majors. He'll have a tall task on his hand, as Texas crushes lefties. Most of the Rangers' right-handed batters raked left-handers over the coals all season, throwing up a .297/.358/.502 line, paced by Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, who all have OPS' greater than 1.000 against left-handed pitchers.

Add in Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, and the Rangers have six players in the lineup who can hammer left-handed pitching. It will be a tall task for Moore going up against that kind of firepower... but then again, he punched out 11 Yankees in his only 2011 start.

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Cooper Stone, son of Shannon, will throw out the first pitch prior to Game 1 of the ALDS Friday night. Shannon Stone fell to his death during a game earlier this season trying to catch a ball that Hamilton had tossed him in the stands. "We thought it was very appropriate to have him come out," team president Nolan Ryan told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
  • Interesting to see Torrealba DHing and Napoli catching, as the defensive reputations of each person is counter to what positions they are assuming for Game 1. Wilson has pitched to Torrealba 21 times and Napoli nine. Wilson actually has an ERA 0.30 lower than when he throws to Torrealba, but batters don't hit as well in the Wilson-Torrealba pairing as they do Wilson-Napoli.
  • Texas defeated the Rays in last season's division series in five games. The visiting team won every single game, the only time in major-league baseball postseason history that's happened.
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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:


1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 


2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 


3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.


4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.


5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.

6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.


7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.


8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:12 am

Rays to start rookie Moore in Game 1

Matt MooreBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt Moore has thrown just 9 1/3 innings in the big leagues. And now he'll be a Game 1 starter in the playoffs.

The Rays announced they would start the rookie left-hander in Game 1 of the American League division series against the Rangers on Friday.

Moore, 22, will be making just his second big-league start on Friday. He started last Thursday against the Yankees and announced his presence with authority, striking out 11 batters, walking one and allowing four hits in five scoreless innings. In all, he's appeared in three games, going 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA. Moore hadn't pitched above Class A before the season, but in Double-A and Triple-A this season, he went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 155 innings.

Moore debuted in a loss to the Orioles on Sept. 14, allowing two runs on three hits in just 1 1/3 innings. However, he's gotten better in each subsequent appearance, allowing two hits and a run in three big relief innings against the Red Sox on Sept. 17 and then last week's lights-out start against the Yankees.

The Rays had been debating starting either Jeff Niemann or Moore in the first game and picked the rookie. James Shields will start Game 2. The Rays didn't release their entire rotation, but it appears they will have Jeremy Hellickson lined up for Game 3 and David Price for Game 4, if needed. .

Moore will face Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson in the first game of the series. Wilson is 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and was 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA in four postseason starts in 2010.

It's yet another aggressive move by the Rays, who often take a little too long to get their top pitching prospects to the big leagues, but they certainly don't hold them back once they get there.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....


Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:16 am

2011 MLB Playoffs: Fan guide

By Matt Snyder

Hopefully in the next month we get the kind of excitement baseball provided to us Wednesday night. If that happens, here's how you'll be able to take it all in.


We've got you covered here. The schedule and results page will be updated throughout the postseason. You can see -- and mock, I'm sure -- our predictions. I've always maintained you don't have the right to complain without listing your own in the comments section, so man up and post them. Also, throughout the postseason, if you can't watch the game on TV, our scoreboard updates live by the pitch. There's even a comments board where you can fight amongst yourselves, which is always popular. And much safer than doing so in person.

Also, if you're on Twitter, follow @EyeOnBaseball, @ScottMCBSSports, @DKnobler, @greggdoyelcbs, @MattSnyder27, @ctrent and @EvanBrunell. Engaging with us on that forum is definitely encouraged.


TBS has all NLDS and ALDS games. It also has the NLCS. Fox has the ALCS and the World Series.

TBS' lead broadcast team is Brian Anderson -- who has been the Brewers' play-by-play announcer -- along with color commentators John Smoltz and Ron Darling. That team will handle the NLCS and the Yankees-Tigers series. Tom Verducci will be the field reporter with this team. The other three broadcast teams for the divisional series are:
• Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly will work the Phillies-Cardinals series with Craig Sager reporting.
• Don Orsillo and Buck Martinez will work the Rangers-Rays series with Jaime Maggio reporting.
• Victor Rojas and Joe Simpson have the Brewers-Diamondbacks series with Sam Ryan reporting.

Of note, Ernie Johnson has been the top play-by-play man for TBS in the past, but he's unable to do so this year as he's with his family. His son has muscular dystrophy and has been hospitalized for weeks.

In the studio, TBS will go with Matt Winer as the host and a trio of former major-leaguers to analyze the action: David Wells and Hall of Famers Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley.

Fox will go with the Joe Buck-Tim McCarver tandem for both the ALCS and World Series as things currently stand. If Buck is unable to do so due to his coverage with the NFL -- and he's had voice issues this season -- expect either Thom Brennaman or Kenny Albert to take over. Ken Rosenthal will be the field reporter. Their studio show will be hosted by Chris Rose, with former players Mark Grace and Eric Karros analyzing. Also, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been added as another analyst (Chicago Tribune).


Appatalism.com has a few good ones.

Live play-by-play.

At bat lite, with video clips.

So let's all sit back and enjoy what should be a wonderful postseason.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:17 am

2011 CBSSports.com MLB playoff predictions

2011 MLB postseason predictions





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ALCS MVP Justin Verlander James Shields Russell Martin Miguel Cabrera Doug Fister Jose Valverde
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WORLD SERIES MVP Zack Greinke Corey Hart Derek Jeter Roy Halladay Cliff Lee Miguel Cabrera

For more postseason coverage.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com