New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
They were on the brink of being eliminated in 4 games by the Cleveland Guardians in the Division Series. Thanks in large part to Gerrit Cole who pitched 7 innings for the Yankees in Game 4 that was avoided. Cole struck out 16 batters in his two starts for the series with a 2.03 ERA thus earning his salary. Nestor Cortes in his two starts had a 2.70 ERA and Clay Holmes didn’t allow a run out of the bullpen in his 4 appearances. The bats were alive and well with Giancarlo Stanton leading the way with 6 RBI and half of those coming from a 3-run HR in Game 5. Anthony Rizzo batted .294 with 4 RBI and Harrison Bader had 3 home runs and batted a respectable .267. Aaron Judge didn’t have a great series, but his presence was felt with him getting 2 home runs. If New York wants to return to the World Series, their pitching staff will need to be near perfect the rest of the way.
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.
American League Wild Card Series
3. Cleveland Guardians vs. 6. Tampa Bay Rays
The one constant for the Rays the past decade has been a pitching staff that has plenty of depth and is the main reason they are Postseason participants. That is no different this year as their rotation is as strong as its ever been with Shane McClanahan as their ace. Tyler Glasnow has returned from Tommy John surgery and could be that extra spark to make a deep run. Jason Adam has been a force in the bullpen this year and with the return of Pete Fairbanks that only adds to their arsenal. Randy Arozarena had a fantastic run in September and his Postseason heroics of 2020 weren’t that long ago. Expect him to make some noise again. There needs to be more from the lineup if they want to play in the Division Series. Could that be Wander Franco with his return from injury?
For the 92nd year of the Midsummer Classic, baseball goes to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The last time the mid-summer classic was played in LA was in 1980. Now every year there is always a lot of discussion and some of it a little dated about how the teams are put together. No system will ever be perfect. Fans don’t always get it right and managers won’t either, nor the commissioner’s office. The fact that the players are able to vote for participants was a great choice and they know who is deserving. Regardless of who should or shouldn’t be in the game lets just accept that the best players will always be involved one way or another. Here are my all-stars keeping with the rules that every team be represented and a total of 32 players for each league.
NL MVP – 1B Matt Olson – Atlanta Braves
AL MVP – P/DH Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels
NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer – New York Mets
AL Cy Young – Jose Berrios – Toronto Blue Jays
NL Rookie of the Year – P Hunter Greene – Cincinnati Reds
AL Rookie of the Year – OF Julio Rodriguez – Seattle Mariners
NL Manager of the Year – Craig Counsell – Milwaukee Brewers
AL Manager of the Year – Charlie Montoyo – Toronto Blue Jays
NL Division Winners – Dodgers, Brewers, Braves
NL Wild Card Winners – Cardinals, Padres, Mets
AL Division Winners – White Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners
AL Wild Card Winners – Rays, Astros, Angels
NLCS – Dodgers over Brewers
ALCS – Blue Jays over White Sox
World Series – Dodgers over Blue Jays