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Baseball Playoffs Preview and Predictions

By Jon Painter
On October 2, 2018

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

The calendar has flipped to October and the MLB playoffs are nearly underway.

The MLB regular season has been drastically different in each league. Playoff races in the American League were anti-climactic with three 100-win teams; the Red Sox, Yankees and Houston Astros easily secured playoff spots. The Red Sox took the AL East crown with a record of 108-54, leaving the Yankees to host a do-or-die Wild Card game against the upstart Oakland A’s. The survivor goes onto Fenway Park to face the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros will host the Cleveland Indians in a best of five in the American League Division Series. 

The National League races were much tighter. The Atlanta Braves won the NL East as one of the youngest teams in baseball. For the first time ever, 162 games were not enough to determine both the NL Central and West divisions — two tiebreakers were needed. The Milwaukee Brewers won the NL Central and home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs by defeating the Chicago Cubs in game 163 Monday afternoon. Also in Monday game 163, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their sixth consecutive NL West title by knocking off the Colorado Rockies.

American League Wild Card Game: Oakland A’s vs New York Yankees on Oct.3.

Wednesday the Oakland A’s will head into the Bronx as underdogs against the vaunted lineup of the New York Yankees. While the Yankees offense set the regular season record with 267 home runs, Oakland will be able to shut their offense down in the AL Wild Card game. Oakland bolstered its bullpen at the trade deadline this year, which will be essential as they face New York.

Prediction: Oakland 3, New York 2.

ALDS Oakland/New York vs Boston Red Sox                  Game 1, Oct. 5

The Boston Red Sox were the best team throughout the regular season, though not a team without holes. Who does Boston manager Alex Cora turn to out of the bullpen not-named closer Craig Kimbrel? Home field advantage at the venerable Fenway Park will be the difference as Boston will advance to the American League Championship Series.

Prediction: Boston in 5 games.

ALDS Cleveland Indians vs Houston Astros                      Game 1, Oct. 5

The Cleveland Indians cruised through the AL Central during the regular season, while the defending champions Houston Astros battled injuries to key superstars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Despite these contrasting journeys, the tale of the tape tells us that this is the premier matchup of the entire postseason coming to us in the first round. The starting pitching of both staffs are titanic, led respectively by Houston’s Justin Verlander and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. The American League’s last two World Series representatives will duke it out with Cleveland winning in a decisive fifth game.

Prediction: Cleveland in 5 games.

ALCS                                                                                     Game 1, Oct. 13

The Cleveland Indians will take on the Boston Red Sox in a best of the seven American League Championship Series, taking the winner to the World Series. While both teams have considerable firepower up and down their lineups, the Red Sox lineup features more balance and athleticism than the Indians. While Boston’s ace left-hander Chris Sale has struggled in previous postseasons, this year’s decreased total innings will allow him to dominate in October.

Prediction: Boston in 6 games.

National League Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies vs Chicago Cubs on Oct. 2.

The two losers of the division tiebreakers face off at Wrigley Field Tuesday night. The Cubs are the team loaded with postseason experience while Colorado is appearing in back-to-back postseasons for the first time in team history. Don’t expect Joe Maddon’s Cubs to lose back-to-back games at home in Wrigley Field.

Prediction: Chicago 4, Colorado 3.

NLDS Colorado/Chicago vs Milwaukee Brewers              Game 1, Oct. 4

The Milwaukee Brewers made bold moves this past offseason, acquiring centerfielder Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. With an MVP-worthy season, Yelich has led the Brewers’ quest to supplant the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central. Yelich has been unstoppable at the plate in recent weeks and the rest of the Brewers’ lineup is too dangerous to simply give Yelich the Barry Bond’s treatment.

Prediction: Milwaukee in 4 games.

NLDS Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles Dodgers                 Game 1, Oct. 4

Unlike in previous season, the Dodgers had to dig and claw to win a sixth straight division title while the upstart Braves have been on cruise-control for weeks. While both teams bring major bullpen questions into the series, the Dodgers unquestionably have two of the best arms in baseball: Clayton Kershaw and soon-to-be-household-name rookie Walker Buehler to push them to the next round.

Prediction: Los Angeles in 5 games.

NLCS                                                                                     Game 1, Oct. 12

The Los Angeles Dodgers will dive in and look to repeat as National League champs as they go through Milwaukee. The matchup to drool over is left-hander Kershaw vs Yelich. Yelich has been the best hitter in the National League while Kershaw has looked like an aging pitcher this season. The Brewers continue to surge to the World Series in search of their first title.

Prediction: Milwaukee in 7 games.

World Series

Milwaukee vs Boston

Fenway Park will be rocking as the Milwaukee Brewers visit the Boston Red Sox in this year's World Series. Once again Milwaukee will have to battle stellar left-handed pitching in Boston ace Sale. Meanwhile, Boston’s potent right-handed lineup will neutralize Milwaukee’s flame-throwing lefthander Josh Hader. First-year Boston manager Cora brings home the crown to Beantown.

Prediction: Boston in 5 games.

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