The 2017 MLB regular season is drawing to a close, and that can only mean one thing: postseason baseball. This year’s postseason climate is extremely competitive, and it feels like every team that made the playoffs has a good chance to win the World Series. Here are my picks for what should be an exciting month of October baseball.
The American League is tough this year. The five teams that made the postseason are the Cleveland Indians (No. 1 seed), Houston Astros (2), Boston Red Sox (3), New York Yankees (4) and Minnesota Twins (5). As the first seed, the Indians will play the winner of the American League wild-card matchup between the Yankees and Twins.
In the one-game playoff, both teams will be put to the test. Each will have to put its very best foot forward, which can mean many different things. Most importantly, it means starting the pitcher that is most likely to win, rather than sticking with the usual rotation. For the Twins, Ervin Santana is their best pitcher and is first in the rotation. He is likely to start on the bump Oct. 3. The Yankees’ best pitcher this season has been Luis Severino, even though he is fourth in the rotation, according to the MLB’s website. It will be a good matchup, but it is hard to imagine the Bronx Bombers losing this one. Severino has had a much better year than Santana, and the Yankees offense has scored significantly more runs than that of the Twins. Whichever team wins is in for an extremely difficult series against the formidable Cleveland Indians and their unbelievable pitching staff.
The American League Division Series (ALDS) matchup between the two and three seeds, the Astros and Red Sox, will be a battle until the very end. Houston is the best run-scoring team in Major League Baseball, but the Red Sox have the better pitching staff. Watch for Astros middle infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, as well as outfielder George Springer, to make a huge impact on this series. All three have had strong seasons and will be the Astros’ best chance at taking down Boston’s pitching, which will be led by ace Chris Sale. Sale has put together an incredible season, with a 2.90 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP, and he is currently in second place in ES- PN’s “Cy Young Predictor.” The battle between Sale and a lineup as productive as Houston’s is going to be a close one. In the past, teams with the best pitching have fared better in postseason play, which is why Boston will come out as the ALDS champion and face the winner of the Indians and the wildcard in the America League Championship Series (ALCS).
On the National League’s side of the bracket are the Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 1 seed), Washington Nationals (2), Chicago Cubs (3), Arizona Diamondbacks (4) and Colorado Rockies (5). The wildcard game between the Diamondbacks and the Rockies will be a competitive one and one that is winnable for the lower-seeded Rockies. While the Diamondbacks have a better ace in Zach Greinke, the Rockies have been a high-performing offense all year and are capable of putting up big numbers against him. The Diamondbacks’ offense is also very strong, but the Rockies’ star-studded lineup has some intangibles that have made them electric to watch. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon will need to be impact players in this game against a very tough Diamondbacks team. While it is hard to imagine them squeaking past the Dodgers in a National League Championship Series (NLCS) matchup, it is likely that they will get that opportunity by beating Arizona in the wildcard game.
The National League Division Series (NLDS) between Bryce Harper and his Nationals (2) and Kris Bryant and the Cubs (3) will be perhaps the most competitive match of the entire postseason. Both teams are nearly identical in run-scoring ability and pitching, based on this year’s regular season statistics. The Nationals lineup has been outstanding this year, with outfielder Bryce Harper and infielders Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman all batting over .300 with 20 or more home runs. On the other hand, the Cubs have been less impressive in terms of batting average or power numbers. They have had to be somewhat scrappy in order to score as many runs as they have. Infielders Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have been excellent to this point, though. Since both pitching staffs are somewhat equal, it really will come down to whichever team is hottest with the bats. The Nationals’ impressive power numbers is part of why they will probably emerge victorious from the NLDS. While the Cubs will be scraping together runs, the Nationals could put games out of reach in a hurry if their sluggers come ready to play.
These postseason matchups are going to be thrilling to watch. The Yankees will take down the Twins and battle the Indians in the ALDS.
This will be a close series, but the Indians’ superior pitching will wear down the Yankees’ offense, and the Indians will go on to face the Red Sox in the ALCS. Ace Corey Kluber and The Tribe will come out on top once again, and the Indians will go to the World Series. For the National League, the Rockies will beat the Diamondbacks and face the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Dodgers will take down the Rockies with ease. The Nationals will outhit the Cubs in a close series and go on to face the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Nationals will continue to swing the bats well and will take down the Dodgers in a huge upset. This will set the stage for a World Series showdown between the Indians and the Nationals. This series will likely last in excess of five games, but the Indians will ride out their superior pitching and end the 2017 MLB season as World Series Champions.