American League Division Series
1. Houston Astros vs. 5. Seattle Mariners
The strength of the Astros starts with their lineup, but they have a bevy of arms at their disposal for the rotation and bullpen. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Christian Javier each struck out at least 185 batters during the season. Their bullpen has been solid at the back end with Ryan Pressly saving 33 games and having a 0.89 WHIP. Rafael Montero had 14 saves with a 2.37 ERA. Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman were the run producers for Houston with each of them driving in at least 93 on the year. Jose Altuve was his usual self getting on base consistently scoring 103 runs. If Jeremy Pena can add some extra pop or likewise deadline acquisitions Trey Mancini and Christian Vazquez, Houston will be in a good position for another ALCS appearance.
Seattle made it look easy sweeping Toronto in the Wild Card. Cal Raleigh and Carlos Santana each hit a 3-run home run in Games 1 and 2 respectively. Eugenio Suarez and Adam Frazier each had a .444 batting average in the two game series. All this with Julio Rodriguez and Ty France being rather silent, but taking a back seat to their teammates performances. Luis Castillo set the tone for the series with his 7-1/3 innings of shutout ball. Andres Munoz was the stalwart of the bullpen striking out 3 batters in his two appearances. Even George Kirby got the series clinching save when he’s been one of their reliable starters during the season. Seattle has been sneaky good this season and Houston has seen plenty of it.
Astros in 4 games
2. New York Yankees vs. 3. Cleveland Guardians
All eyes will be on Aaron Judge and what else he will accomplish in the Postseason after his historic 62-home run season for the Yankees. Outside of Judge, the other sluggers in New York’s lineup need to help shoulder the load going forward. Namely Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton. The same goes for Josh Donaldson who has had a rather disappointing year in the Bronx. Can Gleyber Torres be that guy who will be the next great Yankee performer in October? Gerrit Cole has to be that dominant force for New York. Nestor Cortes has had a career season, but Yankees fan’s remember you for what you do in October. Clay Holmes has locked down the 9th inning for them and will need continue that trend if they want to play in the ALCS.
The Cleveland pitching staff was damn near lights out giving up only one run in their two game sweep of Tampa Bay. Shane Bieber gave up the lone run in Game 1 while striking out 8 batters and giving up only 3 hits in his 7-2/3 innings of work. Fellow starter Triston McKenzie also struck out 8 while allowing 2 hits in his 6-inning start in Game 2. Sam Hentges struck out 6 in 3 innings of work out of the bullpen and Emmanuel Clase got the save in Game 1. Jose Ramirez hit a clutch 2-run home run in Game 1 to put that game away and Oscar Gonzalez hit the walk-off home run for the Guardians in Game 2. Those two will need to continue that magic against the Yankees. Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario and Steven Kwan have to be better than their Wild Card showing for Cleveland to make a deep Postseason run.
Yankees in 4 games
National League Division Series
1. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. 5. San Diego Padres
It was a historic season for the Dodgers in almost every aspect. Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman each had 21 HR 100 RBI seasons. Mookie Betts and Freeman each scored 117 runs. Turner and Freeman almost had 200 hits apiece. Not to mention Will Smith and Max Muncy hit over 20 home runs and Betts led the way with 35 home runs. Point is the lineup is stacked. On the pitching side things get a little shaky to a degree, but having Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw atop the rotation is a good start. Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin had ERAs of 2.57 and 2.14 respectively. Evan Phillips has been a breakout star for them in the bullpen. Which Craig Kimbrel will the Dodgers be getting for this Postseason run? Brusdar Graterol could be counted on more so than in previous years depending on the answer to that question. Dustin May could see most of his time pitching out of the pen as well.
San Diego went 3-games with the New York Mets in the Wild Card and came away with a series win. Their lineup became a force at a perfect time with Trent Grisham leading the way with his 2 HR 3 RBI performance against the Mets during the 3-game set. Jurickson Profar drove in 4 runs, Austin Nola had a .444 batting average and Ha-Seong Kim was getting on base constantly with 4 walks and a on-base percentage of .500. Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Josh Bell combined to drive in 7 runs with 10 hits. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove both pitched 7 innings in their starts in Games 1 and 3 respectively. They set the tone for the rest of squad and gave them the momentum they needed to pull away and advance to the NLDS. What awaits them now is their division rival in Los Angeles.
Dodgers in 5 games
2. Atlanta Braves vs. 6. Philadelphia Phillies
The defending World Series champions return and look better than they did last season. Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright and Max Fried are reminding Braves fans of the days when they had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. They can also beat you with a deep bullpen that have multiple closing options, but Kenley Jansen stands atop with 41 saves during the season. Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson were the big bats for Atlanta during the season. A couple of youngsters came on and performed immediately in Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom. The Braves also received a lineup boost with the return of Ronald Acuna Jr. who led the team with 29 stolen bases. Atlanta is scary good and they might be the one team no one wants to play in the National League.
The Phillies didn’t score a ton of runs, but certainly did at the most opportune moments in the Wild Card against St. Louis. Alec Bohm had two doubles, two walks and drove in a run for his two games. Bryce Harper hit a solo home run in Game 2 to give them an early lead. Brandon Marsh was a surprise performer getting two hits and driving in a run for the Phillies. Expect more from JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Kyle Schwarber although the latter did drive in two runs. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola were the biggest reasons why the Phillies are in the NLDS. They combined for 10 strikeouts, allowing only 6 hits giving up 0 runs in their 15 combined innings of work. They get that out of them again plus a quality start out of Kyle Gibson, Noah Syndergaard or Ranger Suarez, the sky is the limit. David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez made an appearance and struck out 2 batters apiece. That bodes well for the back end of the bullpen going forward.
Braves in 4 games