By Kyle Block
After a quick four days of baseball, the National League and American League Divisional Series matchups are set. In the AL, Tampa Bay Rays, the 1 seed, handled the young and inexperienced 8 seed Toronto Blue Jays, beating them in back to back games. The 2 versus 7 seed game, however, was not as smooth as the 1 versus 8 as the Oakland Athletics lost the first game, struggling to score any runs, but won the next two, sending them to the next round. The 3 seed versus 6 seed series did not go as planned, as the Minnesota Twins continued their 18 game playoff losing streak, being beaten easily in back to back games by the Houston Astros. The 5 seed New York Yankees put on a scoring clinic, winning their series against the Cleveland Indians in two games while scoring 22 runs in those games. In the NL, The 1 seed Los Angeles Dodgers, clearly the better team, defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in two straight. The hot San Diego Padres handled the 5 seed St. Louis Cardinals, advancing to the next round. Perhaps the biggest upset happened in the 3 versus 6 seed game as the young Miami Marlins proved their talent, beating the experienced Chicago Cubs. Finally, to wrap up the Wild Card round, the 2 seed Atlanta Braves ended the Cincinnati Reds season, showing that they were clearly superior to the Reds.
At last, the predictions:
The first matchup to look at is the 1 seed Rays against the 5 seed Yankees. The Rays are the favorite for this matchup as they have dominated the MLB, including the Yankees, all season. Despite this, with the Yankees back in full form, I believe that the 5 game series favors them. The Rays have an obvious upper hand in the starting pitching staff, but I think that with the way the Yankees play using up the pitch count, they will be able to send the Rays moderately inexperienced starters out of the games quickly, allowing them to beat up on the bullpen. However, the Rays will definitely put up a fight with their very powerful lineup. I see the series going all 5 games with lots of runs and an upset win for the Yankees in the end.
In the other American League series, I see another upset. Even though the Astros don’t know what’s being thrown at them this postseason, their lineup will outperform the Athletics. The two teams have evenly matched pitching rosters, but the Astros have more experience. As you can probably tell, experience is what separates the great post season teams from the pack. The Astros, cheating or not, have been in the playoffs more than the Athletics in recent history, giving them the advantage. I think this series won’t last as long as the other ALDS matchup, finishing in 4 games with the Astros shying past the Athletics.
The 1 seed NLDS matchup serves the LA Dodgers versus the San Diego Padres. No question the Padres are hot, but can they beat the even hotter Dodger team? I don’t think so. The power the Dodgers have in both their pitching staff and hitting is greater than the Padres. I think that the Padres will put up runs, but the Dodgers will overall be too much to handle. Although the Dodgers have been questionable in their playoff consistency, their team has a different feeling with the addition of Mookie Betts. I have this series going surprisingly short, the Dodgers winning 3 straight.
The last series, the Braves versus the Marlins, i think will be the highest scoring series. Neither team has exceptionally talented pitching staffs as a whole, and I expect each team to keep their hot bats ready. The question is, who will score more? The Braves are the 2 seed for a reason, and I see them beating the Marlins but not without the Marlins giving a valiant fight. The Marlins team is just too young and has almost zero experience, leading me to believe that the Braves will be able to edge them. The two teams will each show up, but I see the Braves taking the win in a long 5 game set.