The Boston Red Sox embarrassed the New York Yankees in the best of one Wild Card game. The LA Dodgers narrowly beat a red hot St Louis Cardinals team in their Wild Card bout. Their reward is being matched up against the first seed teams, the Rays and Giants.
The Houston Astros will face the Chicago White Sox in the best of five ALDS. The Astros boast the same core as usual, minus Justin Verlander and George Springer. Springer is a Blue Jay, Verlander blew his arm out. Savvy veteran Zach Grienke is still a formidable force on the mound, relying more on guile than he did in his 2009 and 2015 seasons, where he was a true ace. Grienke is joined by underrated, young Astros arms like Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez.
Kyle Tucker had a breakout year. Altuve and Bregman did well as usual. Carlos Correa, an excellent antagonist, led the team in WAR at 7.2. The bullpen was solid and deep. The Astros look poised to make another deep playoff run.
The White Sox won their joke division with solid starting pitching. Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodon, and Dallas Keuchel make up an impressive starting five. Liam Hendrinks is a great closer. The White Sox have the pitching advantage. Garrett Crochet is insanely filthy out of the pen too.
The Astros have a better lineup. Their players are playoff tested. The White Sox lineup will not be potent enough to outslug Houston. Prediction: Astros 3-2.
The Tampa Bay Rays take on the Boston Red Sox in the other ALDS. Boston has the bigger names. But the Rays have a plethora of underrated, lesser known players. The Rays bullpen is deeper. They boast one lethal arm after another. They will cobble together wins abnormally. They will use their bullpen more than most teams. The Rays are playing with a very balanced and potent offense. They have power and speed throughout the lineup too.
The Red Sox have Chris Sale, but it will not be enough to hold off Tampa. Especially considering many of the Red Sox late inning men, like Adam Ottovino, are chokers and prone to huge collapses. Prediction: Rays 3-1.
Dodgers vs Giants: This grudge match will be exceptionally exciting. These two 105+ win teams use balanced attacks with power throughout, like the Rays. The Dodgers have an insane amount of top tier pitching, even with Clayton Kershaw hurt. The Giants pitching is also very good. Much of it has not been playoff tested. The two teams have similar strengths, but the Dodgers are a bit better across the board. This series should go five games.
The Dodgers boast their usual core of Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger. They added speedster Trea Turner and proven ace Mad Max Scherzer. The Dodgers look poised to make another World Series run. The Giants are legit, but overachieved. They do the little things well, trust each other, and have consistent pitching. They are the sort of team that gets bunts down and advances runners. They do not just clownishly swing for the fences like the Yanks. Prediction: Dodgers 3-2.
Brewers vs Braves: The Brewers are a solid, well-coached team with good pitching. They boast two aces: Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. Their 3rd starter, Freddy Peralta, is also very good. They have an electric closer in Josh Hader. His setup man, Devin Williams, broke his finger throwing a temper tantrum and will be unavailable for the playoffs. This will badly hamstring a team that relies on tactics and pitching. They lack offensive pop. They have enough to beat the Braves, but not to win the NLCS.
The Brewers will take advantage of the Braves missing their two best players: Mike Soroka and Ronald Acuna Jr. Whomever wins this series will stand no chance against the California teams. The Braves could not get it done at full power, they are not going to get it done in a diminished state. These two teams are the least likely to win the World Series. Prediction: Brewers 3-2.