American League Division Series
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
It seems like its been a while since the Yankees have been in the Postseason, but its only been two years. They lost the Wild Card game in 2015, but came out victorious this year. This years Yankees team has an influx of youth that has blossomed quickly into a pretty tough opponent for anyone in the American League. With likely AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge dominating at the plate, they’ve been able to offset any issues in the pitching staff. Having Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka isn’t a bad trio to have. And when you have Aroldis Chapman to close out a game, New York has good reason to be optimistic.
For the first time since 1995 the Cleveland Indians won over 100 games in the regular season. That ’95 team went to the World Series that year and the Indians would like to cash in on winning it this time after a heartbreaking loss last year to the Chicago Cubs in 7 games. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion have the Indians offense in a more formidable spot than they were last year. The bullpen is still as dominant as ever and their rotation consists of three starters that won at least 17 games this year in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. Winning a record 22 straight games was no fluke.
Indians in 4 games
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
For the second year in a row the Red Sox won 93 games and the AL East division. What they don’t want a repeat of is getting swept out of the Division Series. One thing that is different this year is they’ll have David Price pitching out of the bullpen. It could be a game changer having someone like that pitching in tight spots. He has done it before with the Tampa Bay Rays during their Postseason run in 2008. Having Chris Sale as your ace isn’t a bad option either. If Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are locked in at the plate, Boston will be a tough out.
This isn’t the same Astros team that surprised everyone in 2015 by making a Postseason appearance and nearly sweeping the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. Houston has been atop the standings all season and they want to prove that wasn’t dumb luck. Their rotation has been dealing with injuries all year, but they are getting healthy at the right time. Trading for Justin Verlander in August was the right move as he was a perfect 5-0 in his five regular season starts. His Postseason experience can only help this up and coming team. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and company have had the most balanced lineup all year. They can’t all go cold at once or this run will be short lived.
Astros in 4 games
National League Division Series
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The longest Postseason drought in franchise history is over. Arizona is back with their victory in the Wild Card game. One reason for the turnaround is their record against division opponents. One of them being the Los Angeles Dodgers. They outscored the Dodgers 99-71 and had an 11-8 record. Obviously those don’t mean anything in October, but the Dodgers psyche has been affected by it. Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb have been the consistent power bats, but its been the midseason addition of J.D. Martinez that has put Arizona in a different category. If this trio can do damage to the Dodgers staff, it could mean popping more champagne.
For the Dodgers sake, they can’t lose this series. Not when you have a 7-man rotation that includes the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish. Not to mention one of the best closers in the game in Kenley Jansen. Likely NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger has been the driving force for their offense all year long. Corey Seager and Justin Turner have been the consistent cogs, but if Bellinger is on his game, the Dodgers shouldn’t have a lot of pressure on their staff to get them through a tough series.
Dodgers in 5 games
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
The defending World Series champions had a bit of a rough patch, but they eventually pulled away and won the division for the second consecutive year. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were their usual selves leading the offense. Javier Baez played quite a bit and had a 20-20 (doubles & home runs) season. If Baez and Willson Contreras have another outstanding Postseason run in them, the Cubs could be back in the World Series defending their title. Adding Jose Quintana to the mix of rotation options for manager Joe Maddon only helps Chicago create matchup nightmares.
Having a healthy Bryce Harper is imperative for the Nationals to have any success this Postseason. He is the nucleus to their offense and even though they still won 97 games with him missing a good portion of the season, he has to be right for them to have any chance. Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon were happy to pick up the slack with 100 RBI seasons each. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg need to get victories and dominate like they can. Their bullpen has been an issue almost the entire year, but making moves to get Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler seemed to have remedied that problem. This Postseason run will have huge implications for the future of this franchise.
Cubs in 5 games