2021 MLB Championship Series Preview

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Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

There were moments where Boston could have and did blow leads in the ALDS against Tampa Bay. And yet, they came away victorious in 4 games against their division rival. Largely due to the play of Rafael Devers and Kike Hernandez. Both hit 2 home runs and drove in 6 runs in the series. J.D. Martinez hit .467 in his 3 games he played and Christian Vazquez hit .375 and drove in 4 runs, including the walk-off game winner in Game 4. If Boston wants to continue this momentum the pitching staff has to be better. Chris Sale was not good in his lone start for Boston. Eduardo Rodriguez did bounce back in Game 4 after his Game 1 loss. Nathan Eovaldi had the best start of the Red Sox starting pitchers striking out 8 in his 5 innings pitched. The bullpen held firm and kept the lead or didn’t allow Tampa Bay to rally any further. This trend will need to continue for a potential 7-game grudge match.

Other than Game 3 of the ALDS against Chicago, Houston’s pitching was solid. Lance McCullers struck out 9 batters in his two starts for the series. Phil Maton, Ryan Pressly and Ryne Stanek each pitched in 3 games and combined to struck out 11 batters and walked only one. Kendall Graveman also pitched in 3 games, but looked shaky at times. But if Houston’s lineup continues to produce the way they have, the pitching staff won’t have as much pressure on them. Kyle Tucker led all Astros with 7 RBI while batting .294. Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman each batted over .360 for the series. The three of them combined to drive in 12 runs for the Astros. The patience of this lineup though is what cinched the series. Correa, Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez walked 14 times combined in the series. The dominance of this franchise is hard to overlook as this is their fifth consecutive appearance in the ALCS.

Astros in 6 games

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

The defending champions passed the test of their division rivals the San Francisco Giants. Now they get to face Atlanta for the second consecutive year in the NLCS. It wasn’t easy getting past the Giants with most of their lineup struggling to make consistent contact. The absence of Max Muncy looks especially daunting. However, Mookie Betts led the way with a .450 batting average and had 4 hits in Game 5 of the NLDS. Cody Bellinger drove in 3 runs, including the game winner in Game 5. This could be a sign that his horrible regular season was an aberration. Will Smith drove in 3 runs with 2 home runs and a .333 batting average. If Justin Turner and Trea Turner return to form in the NLCS look out. The pitching was outstanding and no surprise Max Scherzer was a key component. Although his lone start was a loss, he only gave up one run. He ended up saving Game 5 of the NLDS and finished his series with 12 strikeouts and only one walk in his two appearances. Brusdar Graterol allowed only 3 hits in his 4 appearances and Kenley Jansen struck out 5 in his 2 appearances in the series. Walker Buehler and Julio Urias were solid in the rotation as well. A lot will have to go wrong for them to lose.

For the Braves to overcome the talented pitching staff of the Milwaukee Brewers, they had to score runs at crucial times of a game. They did it quite a bit and Joc Pederson was a big part of that with his .429 2 HR 5 RBI stat line in his 4 games played. Freddie Freeman was his usual self batting .308 and hit a huge home run in Game 4. Eddie Rosario drove in 2 runs and batted .308 as well. Austin Riley batted .333 and played stellar defense at third. The Braves pitching staff needed to match Milwaukee’s and they did better than that. Charlie Morton struck out 14 batters in his two starts, one in which he was given the loss, but he only walked two in 9 1/3 innings pitched. Ian Anderson and Max Fried were fantastic in their starts combining for 15 strikeouts, 6 hits allowed and 0 walks in 11 innings pitched. Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek were stellar setting up Atlanta’s closer Will Smith who saved all three victories for the Braves. Everything was clicking and it will need to again in the NLCS.

Dodgers in 6 games

2021 MLB World Series & Awards Predictions

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MLB Awards

NL MVP – OF Ronald Acuna Jr. – Atlanta Braves

AL MVP – OF Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels

NL Cy Young – Jacob deGrom – New York Mets

AL Cy Young – Tyler Glasnow – Tampa Bay Rays

NL Rookie of the Year – OF Dylan Carlson – St. Louis Cardinals

AL Rookie of the Year – OF Jarred Kelenic – Seattle Mariners

NL Manager of the Year – Mike Shildt – St. Louis Cardinals

AL Manager of the Year – Carlie Montoyo – Toronto Blue Jays Continue reading

National League Central

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* – indicates new to team

+ – indicates injury

1. St. Louis Cardinals

The acquisition of Nolan Arenado was a gift that they won’t soon squander.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Their pitching staff has a few question marks, but their lineup is stacked and will keep them in contention.

3. Chicago Cubs

The signals that ownership has sent out indicates that this will be the last season with this current group of players.

4. Cincinnati Reds

It didn’t work last year and now they’ve lost their Cy Young winner in Trevor Bauer.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

And the title of the worst team in baseball goes to…

Player to Watch: 3B Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs

Best Acquisition: 3B Nolan Arenado – St. Louis Cardinals

New Kid on the Block: OF Dylan Carlson – St. Louis Cardinals Continue reading

National League East

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* – indicates new to team

+ – indicates injury

1. Atlanta Braves

Their depth will be tested this year, but they are the team to beat in the NL East.

2. New York Mets

With their new owner in place they are built to win now and for the near future as well.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Bringing in Dave Dombrowski to run the front office means they won’t be penny pinching and want to win now.

4. Miami Marlins

In a full 162-game season it will be harder to clinch a Wild Card spot, but don’t be surprised if they do.

5. Washington Nationals

Last season was a disaster and while they should be better this year, the rest of the division got better.

Player to Watch: OF Ronald Acuna Jr. – Atlanta Braves

Best Acquisition: SS Francisco Lindor – New York Mets

New Kid on the Block: P Sixto Sanchez – Miami Marlins Continue reading