MLB Postseason Preview and Predictions: ALDS and NLDS
The first round of the altered MLB Postseason has come to an end. As expected, teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays moved on with ease. However, we had a couple of surprise results in Round 1 as the Houston Astros took down the Minnesota Twins and the Miami Marlins eliminated the Chicago Cubs.
Now, as we are down to eight teams, we move on to the ALDS and NLDS. During the Wild Card Series, it was best-of-three games. Now, the ALDS and NLDS will be a best-of-five series. Action is slated to begin Monday, Oct. 5 with the ALDS. The NLDS will start Tuesday. Both will proceed for five-straight days if necessary with no off-days in between.
Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees
Many people believe that this is a matchup of the two best teams in the American League. The Yankees fell to the fifth seed in the AL after a rough stretch towards the end of the season, mainly due to injuries. Now, a fairly healthy Yankees squad will be ready to take on the AL’s top seed.
The Tampa Bay Rays advanced after sweeping the young Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0. They outscored the Blue Jays 11-3 in their two games. As expected, the Rays leaned on their excellent pitching in both games. Their offense performed admirably as they had the fourth-best average in the first round. If the Rays want to compete with the Yankees in this series, not only will they need their pitching to stay on point, but they will also need to stay hot on offense.
The New York Yankees also won their series 2-0, outscoring the Cleveland Indians 22-12 in a high-scoring series. The good news for the Yankees is they slugged the ball well against the Indians' talented pitching staff. Also, Gerrit Cole was stellar with 13 strikeouts in his lone start. The bad news for the Yankees is that Masahiro Tanaka was torched for six runs in just four innings. His ERA over his last three appearances is a whopping 7.19.
This should be an excellent series that should go four or five games. The Rays are the better pitching team and the Yankees are the better hitting team. Likely to be the best series of the round, it wouldn’t be surprising to see either team advance. Having said that, the Yankees’ bats should be too much for the Rays to quiet for three games.
As long as the Yankees’ pitching doesn’t implode, they should be the ones to advance.
Yankees Advance 3-2
Oakland Athletics vs Houston Astros
The Oakland A’s faced a tough test in the first round against a very good Chicago White Sox team. Still, the A’s managed to advance with a 2-1 series win. The Houston Astros took on an even better team in the Minnesota Twins but managed to put them away in just two games.
For Oakland, they are going to have to play a lot better this round if they want to advance to the ALCS. The A's scored just 12 runs in three games and had a team average of .194. They were 10th in team ERA during the Wild Card Series at 3.67.
The Astros got excellent pitching from Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier and others. Houston allowed just seven hits to the Twins in two games.
The Oakland A’s are the better team in this matchup. A sub .500 Houston team surprised and outplayed a solid Minnesota team. Oakland won’t be surprised in this series. As long as Oakland’s starting pitching doesn’t put them in deep holes early, the A’s should get the better of Houston in this series and move on to the ALCS.
Oakland Advances 3-1
Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres
The Dodgers have been the best team in baseball this season and they had no problem pushing past the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round. After losing the first game of the series, and trailing by four runs in the second, the San Diego Padres mounted an excellent comeback to steal the series from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Dodgers scored just seven runs in their two games but that was all they needed as their pitching was superb and allowed just two runs in two games. The thing that should scare the rest of the playoff teams is that Clayton Kershaw, who has always struggled in the playoffs throughout his career, tossed a gem in Game 2. If he is going to pitch like that, then this Dodgers’ team is somehow even more dangerous.
The Padres are expecting Mike Clevinger back in this series and they are going to need him if they want to take down the Dodgers. San Diego scored the second-most runs (19) and had the second-best average (.304) in the first round. However, their pitching staff struggled as they had a team ERA of 4.67 and allowed their opponents to hit .252.
This series should be closer than some would expect. The Padres played the Dodgers strong this season, beating them four times. If they want to have a serious chance of winning this series, their pitching will need to improve from the first round. San Diego’s offense should give them plenty of run support but their pitching has to give them a chance to win games.
Dodgers Advance 3-2
Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins
The Atlanta Braves had a historic Wild Card Series thanks to some surprise pitching. They didn’t allow a single run to the Cincinnati Reds in their first two games of the playoffs. Their opponents, the Miami Marlins, are a bit of a surprise. They shocked the Chicago Cubs 2-0, allowing only one run in their two games.
The Braves offense is second only to the Dodgers in the NL. They have plenty of talent in their lineup that can beat you with base hits or home runs. The one weakness for the Braves was supposed to be their pitching. However, they might have put that to bed as they completely blanked the Reds in the first round. It is worth noting, that the Reds aren’t exactly the most potent offense in baseball as they relied heavily on the long ball all season.
Future NL Manager of the Year, Don Mattingly, deserves a lot of credit for the Marlins surprise success this season. A team that wasn’t expected to do anything in this shortened season, the Marlins not only snuck into the playoffs, but they also proved they are a team to look out for. They actually pitched better in their series than Atlanta did, allowing a paltry nine hits and a .145 average compared to the 13 hits and .169 average the Braves allowed.
The Braves hit just .195 in their series against the Reds. We know they have a very good lineup but that should be a little concerning for Braves fans. Was their stellar pitching a fluke or can they be counted on to pitch that well the rest of their Postseason run? That Marlins pitching staff has a lot of good arms. Expect a low-scoring series and whichever team has the weaker starting pitching is likely to lose this one. Don’t be surprised if the Marlins make this a tough series for the Braves, maybe even pull the upset.
Braves Advance 3-2
Photo: Getty Images