After six months and 2,431 games later, the MLB season has finally come to an end. Just like college basketball has “March Madness”, baseball has “October Madness”. The post-season is an entire different ball game as teams will be more motivated than ever to take home the world-series title. It’s tough to predict who will win each series and eventually the world series, however, there are many indications as to who will take home the chip this year.
NL Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies @ Chicago Cubs
The Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs both had their chances to secure themselves a divisional round bye, however, they both fell short of doing so. Looking from the Cubs stand point of view, they’re looking pretty good as they have home-field advantage and have proven themselves to be a dangerous team in the NL. Jon Lester is set to become the starter pitcher against the Rockies and he’s one of the best post-season pitchers in his era. He just finished the regular season with a 1.71 ERA over his last eight starts. The Rockies will struggle against Chicago as they just came off a loss the day before in Los Angeles and will most likely be fatigued. It’s a slim chance for the Rockies to win this game as the Cubs will most likely take this game.
Winner: Chicago Cubs
AL Wild Card Game: Oakland Athletics @ New York Yankees
Many tend to forget that the Oakland Athletics are even in the post-season in this year. The A’s have been on fire ever since mid-June as they had a record of 63 wins and 29 losses since then. This AL Wild Card Game is the ultimate display of “bullpenning” as we can expect both teams to unleash new strategies that may show a bullpen battle in New York on Wednesday. Oakland’s bullpen would have the edge against most teams in the MLB, but not New York. According to FanGraphs win above replacement, the Yankees have the best bullpen in history. The Yankees also have one of the hardest throwing fast-balls in history as they throw for an average of 95 mph. The Yankees dominate at home with a record of 53-28 and play against good teams as they have a record of 41-30 against winning teams.
Winner: New York Yankees
NLDS: Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers
None of us expected the Brewers to take the NL Central Title as they were down six games in late August. However, with help from an MVP candidate in Christian Yelich, the Brewers managed to swipe the NL Central Title as they have home-field advantage in this series. If these two teams end up meeting each other in the playoffs, the Brewers will most likely take this series as they’re just the hotter team. The Cubs went into October with a .670 OPS and an average of 4.1 runs in September and the Brewers went into October with a .788 OPS and an average of 5.5 runs in September. Aside from the Yankees, the Brewers might have the best bullpen now as their relievers posted a 2.3 ERA in September. This time around, the Brewers will most likely take down their divisional rival once again and advance to the NLCS.
Winner: Brewers wins series 3-1
NLDS: Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Another team that nobody really expected to make the post-season this year were the Atlanta Braves. But here they are taking on a loaded team in the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves are an extremely young team who proved throughout the season that they’re a team that nobody should forget about. However, the Braves have struggled recently as over the past 43 games, they went 22-21 and struggled with their offense as they mustered a .698 OPS and 4.1 runs per game. The Dodgers are the much hotter team as they posted an .802 OPS in the second half and an .830 OPS in September. Despite the struggles the Dodgers have had in pitching, they’ve found a gem in rookie Walker Buehler and still have Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. Even though the Dodgers barely won the NL West Title, this team is one of the best in the league and perhaps the most loaded in the playoffs. Expect the Dodgers to get past the Braves with no issues.
Winner: Dodgers wins series 3-0
ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Many of us may be thinking why this would even be a debate. The Red Sox did win 108 wins during the regular season as they looked like the most complete team in the MLB. However, by winning 108 games in the regular season, that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the Red Sox to produce in the post-season. The Red Sox struggled somewhat in September as the pen posted .484 ERA in September. Things aren’t great in terms of pitching as Rick Porcello hasn’t been playing his best and Chris Sale hasn’t played his best since his shoulder injury. The Red Sox don’t have much experience in the post-season as a lot of the players have never sniffed a post-season win. Don’t get me wrong, the Red Sox are the better overall team, but now, they don’t seem to out-duel a high-powered offense in the Yankees.
Winner: Yankees wins series 3-1
ALDS: Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros
Despite the Cleveland Indians not winning 100 games in the regular season this year, there are many ways you could look at it that makes them the team to beat. After all, they made the world series in 2016 and have been a threat in the post-season ever since. Cleveland’s offense has been on fire as they posted a .790 OPS and 5.1 runs per game. It also helps when the 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson plays for the team. At the end of the day, the Indians are not a very good team outside the NL Central as they have a record of 42-44 against teams that are not in the NL Central and have a record of 49-27 against teams that are in the NL Central. Houston’s offense is too much for the Indians to handle as they spell trouble for the Indians pitcher.
Winner: Astros wins series 3-1
NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have the ability to handle the Cubs easily, however, handling the Dodgers won’t be an easy task. The Dodgers are easily one of the hotter teams in the MLB and with their high-powered offense, they should be able to take out the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers have the NL’s best at hitting relief pitches (.779 OPS). It wouldn’t necessarily nullify Milwaukee’s bullpen, but it would definitely worsen it. Despite Clayton Kershaw’s inconsistency and health, he still posted a 2.73 ERA over 26 starts. We can fully expect the pitchers like Buehler, Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu to pitch for a good five innings. This is playoff time as the Dodgers will be motivated more than ever to be back in the world-series and that they will with their high-powered offense and good enough pitching.
Winner: Dodgers wins series 4-2
ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
The Yankees led last year in the ALCS 3-2 against the Houston Astros, however, the Astros outscored them 11-1 in the last two games. Last year’s Houston offense was one of the all-time greats, however, it’s not the same this year. Both Altuve and Correa have struggled as they posted a relatively weak .732 OPS in the second-half. With New York’s high-powered offense, the Astros will have to win by their pitching as they have done a good job of doing so as they posted a MLB best 3.03 ERA. The Astros do have home-field advantage in this series, however, it may not be an advantage after all as they have an average record of 46-35 at home. The Yankees want some revenge and the world-series hangover for the Astros might come into effect here as the Yankees will barely escape the Astros to appear in the 2018 World Series.
Winner: Yankees wins series 4-3
World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees
This is a world series that nobody wants as both teams are disliked around the nation. A match-up between the two biggest teams in the MLB’s two biggest media markets sounds like higher TV Ratings. Both the Yankees and Dodgers are built on high-powered offenses and have tremendous depth. The Dodgers are a better defensive team than the Yankees, however, knowing that the Yankees would have home-field advantage, the Dodgers defense could easily crumble in a split of a second. The Yankees on the other hand would have to bat against three left-handed pitchers and statistics have shown that they post a .832 OPS against left-handed pitchers. That’s easily the highest in the MLB. This series will go back and forth as there will be no clear winner and this series will most likely go to a game seven. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they will have to endure their second straight year of losing in a game seven of the world series and for the Yankees, they will have won their 28th world series.
Winner: Yankees wins series 4-3