New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
While most had the upstart Yankees losing to the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, credit to New York for not giving up. They were down 2-0 and came back to win three in a row. Some timely hitting and outstanding pitching helped propel the Yankees back to the ALCS. Can Didi Gregorius continue that timely hitting? Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks were New York’s best hitters in the ALDS. Will that trend continue? Aaron Judge has another series to show that he is one of the most prolific hitters in the game. CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka played huge parts for the Yankees staving off the Indians offense. Sabathia especially with his most recent start in Game 5. Aroldis Chapman proved why he is probably the best closer in the game pitching in three games and getting two saves in the process.
While Houston didn’t sweep the Boston Red Sox, they showed why they are one of the best teams in baseball. Six of their hitters batted .375 or higher in the ALDS. Jose Altuve had a ridiculous stat line of .533, 3 HR, 4 RBI. Yuli Gurriel batted .529 and Carlos Correa drove in 6 runs while adding two home runs. Their lineup is stacked as we all know, but their pitching staff did well to prevent any chance of giving up their big leads. Justin Verlander had two victories with Dallas Keuchel adding the other. Luke Gregerson pitched well in his two outings in the pen while Ken Giles was a little shaky, he still managed to get a save in his lone opportunity. As long as Houston scores and the pitching remains consistent, they have an amazing chance at history.
Astros in 6 games
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
For the second year in a row it’s a NLCS rematch between the Cubs and Dodgers. Chicago would love a repeat of last year when they defeated the Dodgers in six games. While Chicago’s bullpen doesn’t have Aroldis Chapman anymore, Wade Davis proved he is just as capable with his three saves and 4-1/3 innings pitched in the NLDS. Chicago’s starting pitching was masterful with Kyle Hendricks in his two starts striking out 13 batters. Jake Arrieta only pitched 4 innings coming off an extended period of rest, but gave up one unearned run in a loss. Jose Quintana will be relied upon heavily going forward and his 7 strikeouts in 6-1/3 innings was just what the Cubs needed. While the bats weren’t always there, they did when it mattered late in games against Washington. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell specifically with their combined 10 RBIs. Kris Bryant has to be better if the Cubs are to repeat as National League champions.
Los Angeles was relentless in their NLDS sweep of Arizona. Five batters had a .333 batting average or better. Justin Turner couldn’t be stopped with his 5 RBIs and Yasiel Puig added another four with his infectious play. Not having Corey Seager for the NLCS is a big loss, but the Dodgers have the depth to hopefully offset it. The Dodgers pitching staff was solid and has plenty of rest for Chicago. Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill will set the tone for the rotation. Los Angeles might be tempted to keep Kenta Maeda in the bullpen after what he did in stifling Arizona in key moments of the NLDS. If the games get to Kenley Jansen, it likely means the Dodgers have a victory in hand.
Cubs in 7 games