Monday, October 1, 2018

Predicting the Playoffs: 2018

Well, now that we have our matchups and seeds, I can finally write this post.

I can definitely say that these matchups to end regulation were a fun way to lead into the playoffs, with Lorenzo Cain's RBI and Cody Bellinger's home run clinching things for those teams, and giving the teams that were about to settle for Wild Card spots their respective divisions. the matchups that I THOUGHT were about to happen have been completely flipped. Now the Dodgers HAVE clinched their umpteenth NL West, and the Brewers have delegated the 2-time NL Central champs to Wild Card status.

But...that doesn't make my inability to predict things correctly any less valid. As usual, pre-playoffs, I'm going to run down each playoff matchup, and give my opinion as to how it will go, and my odds. All the way down to the World Series. I don't expect to be right. If I'm right, then baseball's too predictable, and we can't have that.

AL Wild Card: Athletics vs. Yankees

Moneyball III vs. Aaron Boone Part I. I see this being one heck of a game. Either this is going to be a complete blowout on both sides, with only a battle of the long ball separating the two, or it'll be a slow burn pitching battle, possibly between two tough arms, neither of which have been formally announced yet. Still, this is a matchup between two teams with generally equal momentum, both of which could do well in the playoffs. But...I am giving the edge to New York, solely because I think they can outhit the A's, and because I think this team can get the better of their pitching staff. It may be close, and it may come down to extras, but I see a Yankee victory for a second straight AL Wild Card game.
Verdict: Yanks over A's.

NL Wild Card: Rockies vs. Cubs

Battle of the teams who were in first the other day. I'm gonna be controversial with this pick. Looking at this one from afar, it's obvious: the Chicago Cubs have the better team, they have the more skilled, varied roster, and they've been preparing for this run for half the year. But in the last week, they've dropped some crucial games, especially down the stretch. Yes, they won enough to oust the Cardinals from competition (thank you, by the way), but they dropped some games to the Pirates in their last series. So, they're going into a Wild Card game they didn't think they'd be in...vulnerable. Against a team that built up a ton of momentum towards the end. The game's in Chicago rather than Denver, so it should level the playing field, but the Rockies have Kyle Freeland going up against Jon Lester, which gives them the edge, even the Cubs do bring their a-game offensively. I'm going to have to give this one to the Rox, as disappointing as this must be for Cubs fans expecting a virtual 4-peat in the NLCS.
Verdict: Rox over Cubs.

ALDS Part 1: Indians vs. Astros
2016 AL Champs vs. 2017 AL Champs. This one I see going all five games. I see blowouts, but I don't see this series being a sweep for either team, solely because they're in similar places. These are two routinely-great teams facing against inevitability. The Indians are still smarting from their 1st-round ouster last year, but the Astros are the defending champs, and they look just as strong. What worries me is that the Tribe played in the least competitive division in the leagues, and have the lowest record of the playoff teams. They also have a few more problem areas than Houston, as there are a few fill-in players that are starting due to lack of options. They're, once again, the more vulnerable team. And seeing as I think Houston might go on another playoff tear, this all but spells doom for the Indians.
Verdict: Stros over Tribe in 5.

ALDS Part 2: Yankees vs. Red Sox

The Age-Old Rivalry, Yet Again. Look...with these predictions, I try not to look at these at face value, and I try and actually think about what these will be like in real life. So...let's be honest with ourselves. The Sox just dropped two out of three to the Yankees. They've also lost some matches in the last few weeks to Cleveland, Houston, and...Baltimore. So the Sox are slowing down, hence those Yankee losses. Meanwhile, the Yankees are only heating up. And even if the Sox keep people like Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Brian Johnson out of the picture, the Yankees may sink this 'best team of the year'. This is, after all, a battle between two 100-win teams, and teams with major home run hitters. The Yankees have enough to go toe-to-toe with Boston...and they might get the last laugh.
Verdict: Yankees over Sox in 4. They get that 3rd win at the stadium.

NLDS Part 1: Braves vs. Dodgers

1990s Perennial Division Champs vs. 2010s Perennial Division Champs. Another tricky one. The Dodgers do have the momentum, but the Braves aren't too shabby either, and might be the craftier team. The Dodgers may have bigger guns at their disposal, but the Braves have a loaded bench and bullpen, and can play the long game better than arguably anyone in this postseason. This one will probably go all five, and come down to whose pitching can outlast the other's...and the Dodgers may pull this one out at the last second. I expect this to come down to an eighth-or-ninth inning homer off of Pederson or Puig.
Verdict: Dodgers over Braves in 5.

NLDS Part 2: Rockies vs. Brewers

The 'Wasn't This Supposed to be the NL Wild Card game' matchup. And, suddenly, the Brewers are the top-seeded team in the game, and the Rockies are the underdogs. I love the fact I can say that. This one also might go all five games, and exhaust the home-run-hitting abilities of both squads, even with the recent additions of both Matt Holliday and Curtis Grandson respectively. may just come down to the better team winning, and here that might just be the Brewers. In this matchup, the Rockies could very well squeeze through, but there's more probability for the Brewers to take it, especially on the wings of the Yelich-Cain combo.
Verdict: Brewers over Rockies in 5.

ALCS: Astros vs. Yankees
 The 2017 ALCS Rematch. And this year may have a ton more stakes, as the Yankees are trying to break into the mainstream, and the Astros are trying to hold onto a dynasty. That last year, this one might not be especially close. The Yankees will definitely win at least one, but I see the Astros running away with this one easily. I just think they're the better team, and that they deserve to be back in the World Series. Even if the Yanks have one or two major power moments, I don't see them advancing to a World Series this year, sadly. Not ruling it out for this century, though.
Verdict: Astros over Yankees in 5.

NLCS: Dodgers vs. Brewers
 Perennial Winners vs. Ultimate Underdogs. Both of these teams have a reason to win, and it could very well be a rematch of the 2017 series...HOWEVER...I think the Brewers have an edge here that the Dodgers don't have. I think they've got a bit more versatility, and can retain momentum, to the point where they make this one look relatively easy as well, sad to say for any Dodgers fans. And that's kind of reassuring, as this Brewers team has been unlucky as of late, and it'd be fantastic if they truly went the distance, especially against a monolithic team like the Dodgers.
Verdict: Brewers over Dodgers in 6.

World Series: Brewers vs. Astros
 Battle of the League Jumpers. I think this one will go all seven. Both teams will want this badly. The Brewers have never won a World Series, and are still smarting from letting the Cardinals stomp over them in 1982. The Astros have only won 1, and are trying their best to hold onto their dynasty. Both have a ton to prove, and this will be one nail-biter after another, with several career-making moments from both sides. I imagine names like Alex Bregman, Eric Thames, Gerrit Cole and Gio Gonzalez will go down in WS history. And after all 7 games...I predict Evan Gattis will end in a walk off. And the Astros will have earned the hell out of this one.

Even if it's not as dramatic as that, I firmly believe that the Astros will repeat as World Champions. Over Milwaukee. It may be bold, but bold statements like that get you ahead in life.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to see the AL showdown. It's gonna be a battle. I realize it's unlikely... but I'd love to see the A's complete their Cinderella season with a win tomorrow against the Yankees.