With the wild card games now behind us and the brackets actually set, let’s make some predictions on how this all plays out.

The American League

Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees

The biggest rivalry in Major League Baseball is happening in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. That was the year that the Red Sox finally broke the curse and won their first World Series since they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Like 2004, I believe that the Boston Red Sox will come out ahead in this one. The Red Sox had the best record in baseball, going 108-54 during the season. They had the best offense in baseball. They led the Majors in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs scored, doubles, and OPS+. They also finished third in stolen bases.

With the Red Sox it’s not just the offense, though. They finished with the second best ERA+ in the American League – a distant second to the Astros. Their edge over the Yankees was almost non-existent though. The Yankees, however, have already burned Luis Severino to make it this far and will not be able to use perhaps their best pitcher twice in the series. That gives the edge to the Red Sox. Where the Yankees could make things close is by shortening the games, where their bullpen has the edge and could be dominant. End of the day, though, small edge to the Red Sox who have the home field advantage.

Houston Astros vs Cleveland Indians

The defending champions will host the Indians. On paper, this series should be quick and easy. The Astros were arguably the best team in baseball this year. They won 103 games in the AL West, which was a significantly better division than the AL East. The Astros had the best pitching staff in the league and it wasn’t particularly close. Their 130 ERA+ is among the best in the history of baseball as a team. Their run differential was also the best in baseball. The offense was also tied for second best in the American League.

Cleveland won their division going away, finishing 91-71. That would have finished third in the other two divisions, and that came in the Central, where the Twins were the only other team to win 65 games. The Indians are above average in both hitting and pitching, but they are behind the Astros in both areas, and by a whole lot on the mound. That’s more about how good the Astros pitching has been than the Indians not being good, though. Still, on paper, the Astros are significantly better and they should win this one.

The National League

Milwaukee Brewers vs Colorado Rockies

The Brewers won the toughest division in the National League, and they did so with the most wins in the National League. The Rockies finished a game behind the Dodgers out west, but won the wild card game over the Cubs. Milwaukee has the better offense of the two teams once we adjust for park factors, and it’s not that close.

The pitching is where things are close. The Brewers posted an ERA+ of 110, while the Rockies had an ERA+ of 108. But, when it comes to this series, the edge could be bigger for the Brewers because they didn’t have to use their best starter two days ago. Not being able to go to Kyle Freeland twice in the series hurts the Rockies chance as he’s the best starter for either team involved. With that said, the Brewers don’t exactly have a top end starter they can rely on. Their bullpen is their strength, and it’s a heck of a strength. The Rockies have a few good relievers, but by and large, it’s a a 2-3 person deep bullpen.

The lack of Kyle Freeland for multiple starts and the strength of the Brewers bullpen gives this one to Milwaukee.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves

The Dodgers offense was easily the best in the league. The Braves, though, were second. The difference was large, though. The Dodgers posted a 109 OPS+ and no other National League team was at 100 or higher. They were just on a different level. On the pitching side, the Dodgers also had a decent edge, posting a 115 ERA+ to the Braves 108.

The Dodgers pitching staff has quality starting and a strong bullpen. That’s not a great sign for Atlanta’s offense. The big question is, will Clayton Kershaw perform like regular season Kershaw or postseason Kershaw? He’s the best pitcher of this generation and it’s not particularly close – with all due respect to Max Scherzer. Small sample size, of course, but he’s posted a 4.35 ERA in 122.0 innings during the playoffs. He hasn’t been the same, dominant pitcher, that he’s shown in the regular season.

With that said, the Braves are young and can be explosive on offense at times. Ronald Acuna is one of the best players alive, already, despite being just 20-years-old. Freddie Freeman anchors the middle of their lineup. And while he’s having a down season, Ozzie Albies will still flash himself as an elite hitter. If he catches fire, this could get interesting. With that said, I’m taking the Dodgers here. They are simply the better team on paper.

 

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, contact him via email here or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

9 Responses

  1. Klugo

    RedSox>Yanks
    Indians>Astros
    Brewers>Rox
    Dodgers>Braves

    RedSox>Indians
    Brewers>Dodgers

    RedSox>Brewers

  2. theRickDeLux

    Don’t overlook the Rockies. They have been on a roll and being on a roll has recently been a good thing. The NL feels much more wide open than the AL even though the AL has three great teams.

  3. Matt

    How was the AL West a significantly better division than the AL West? ;)

  4. redlegs4ever

    I’ll take the Yankees in a 5 game thriller, that bullpen really is the best thing money can buy, and just too many guys that can jump the yard. Boston’s pitching has historically struggled in October and at Yankee Stadium. 3-2 Yankees.

    Donaldson gave the Indians a chance, but unless they find a creative way to get their best pitcher the ball twice in this series I see no Bauer outage for the defending champs. 3-1 Astros.

    Brewers-Rockies is closer than Astros-Indians but I agree wholeheartedly the difference comes down to the Rockies not being able to use their best pitcher twice. He shouldn’t win because of how ridiculous Degrom was, but Freeland deserves some significant Cy Young recognition for what he did this year in Colorado. 3-2 Brewers.

    Dodgers should sweep the Braves, then again it’s baseball so anything can happen. 3-0 Dodgers.

  5. Wes

    Thought there was a rule where division rivals didn’t play in first round ? Did they change when they added a 5th team? Or am I just making that up in my head?

    • redlegs4ever

      When there was just one wild card that was the case, but since they went to two its just wild card winner vs best record. I’m assuming that’s just easier logistically especially when you think about all the traveling the Rockies had to do with a 1 game tiebreaker then 1 game wild card playoff.

  6. Cguy

    Nice to see Floro make the
    Dodgers playoff roster & get into Game #1.

  7. Colorado Red

    RedSox>Yanks
    Astros>Inidans
    Rox>Brewers (Rox are my 2nd favorite team, behind the Reds, not thinking well)
    Dodgers>Braves

    Astros>Redsox
    Rox>Dodgers

    Astros>Rox