# 5 Nashville Sounds vs. #1 Milwaukee Manic Maulers
Season series: 5-5
All-time series: 11-9 Milwaukee
Preview: This series will showcase the two frontrunners in the AL MVP race, Milwaukee 1B Burt Stevenson and Nashville 2B Gregg Black. Both are amazing talents, but the difference in offense is Milwaukee's depth- Black may be the league's only 40-40 man, but Nashville doesn't have anyone else who drove in 100- Milwaukee has two (Andre Eckenstahler and Luis Martinez, both of whom also hit .300). The Manic Maulers were the only team this season to score 100 runs. On the mound, Milwaukee also seems to have an advantage with Cy Young candidate Vin Solano and Woody Hiller, who combined for a 45-9 record. Quinton Hughes could be the best closer in both leagues. Nashville's staff pitched well enough to win in round one, but has been inconsistent during the regular season. Do they continue, or revert back to the form they showed for the first 162 games?
Prediction: With so many advantages in the lineup and in starting pitching, it's hard to see Nashville coming out of this series a winner. They're a quality team and will fight up until the last out, but I'm going to have to pick against them here; I think Milwaukee is just too much. Milwaukee in 4.
# 3 Louisville Legends vs. #2 Monterrey Sultans
Season Series: 6-4 Louisville
All-time Series: 10-10
Preview: Should be a good series, as these have been two of the premier AL franchises from the beginning of season 1. Both teams have deep lineups, although Monterrey may be a touch better as they have a bit more speed in their lineup and could still score runs if there's a power outage. Monterrey's advantage should be on the mound, as all 5 starters posted ERAs less than 4. Max Jacquez won 20 games and Philip Allensworth won 19. Louisville only had 2 starters with an ERA under 4: Albert Herzog, who was only 14-7 but had a great 2.92 ERA and Tom Beltran, who was 11-11 with a 3.72. Louisville has a solid rotation, but I like Monterrey's better. Both teams have had solid bullpens this season.
Prediction: Louisville advanced over Toledo due in large part to their pitching. I think pitching is the reason they'll bow out to the Sultans, although they most certainly should make it interesting and could pull the mild upset. Monterrey in 5.
#4 Atlanta Bandits vs. #1 Fargo Dirtbags
Season series: 7-3 Fargo
All-time series: 11-9 Fargo
Preview: The Bandits pulled what most would consider an upset in round 1 and dethroned the defending champion Sacrifices. Their reward is the team that I would consider the worst matchup for them, and not simply because Fargo led the NL in wins. The reason is that Atlanta and Fargo are similar teams, in that they don't score a lot of runs but can shut down offenses, and Fargo does both better. Fargo's offense is average/slightly below average, but it's deeper than the Atlanta lineup. And while Alex Sanchez, Cory Schneider, and Larry Springer are good starting pitchers and completely shut down Salem in the first round, they're no match for Javier Henriquez, Jim Arnold, and Sammy Pierce. Fargo also has more options in the bullpen.
Prediction: Atlanta's been on a great run and deserves their appearance in the second round. But it goes no further. Fargo in 3.
#6 Chicago Cubs vs. #2 Arizona Diamondbacks
Season Series: 7-3 Cubs
All-time Series: 11-9 Diamondbacks
Preview: This is another matchup of two teams built very similarly. Basically, everyone in both lineups can hit; Arizona may have a little more firepower with Oswaldo Johnson, Eddie Greer, and Willis Petrov. Sean Simpson had a great season for Chicago and will soon be mentioned in the same company as Johnson. Arizona also has more speed on the basepaths, led by Justin Hernandez's 99 steals. Arizona would seem to have the advantage on the mound as well with Kane Grahe and Brandon Small combining for 37 victories, but Miguel Benitez and Doc Buhner pitched back-to-back gems against Houston in Round 1, so I'd say it's about even.
Prediction: This series should definitely see more runs than Fargo/Atlanta. Not really sure why, but I'm thinking Chicago in 5. One more prediction: now that I've picked his team and all my predictions are wrong, the commish will try to run me out of the league (please don't!).