Monday, September 30, 2019

Predicting the Playoffs: 2019

I was kind of hoping for a slightly-less clean playoff fight in the last few days. Yes, it was heartbreaking to see the Cubs and Indians cut, but...I was expecting the Brewers-Cardinals race to lead to a playoff game or something. Thanks to a random Colorado victory, the Brewers wound up Wild Card favorites, and this is what we're dealing with. I have to predict how these matchups are going to go. This doesn't usually go well for me. Last year, I thought the Brewers would make the World Series. I've had ballsier picks. This year...I'm gonna try to keep the spontaneity factor in mind for my picks, which...might throw me off even more.

AL Wild Card: Athletics vs. Rays
 The two cheapest feel-good teams in the bunch. I do like the Rays here, and I think their breakneck, skeleton crew formation has been really fun in going from a novelty to a winner. The only problem is they're going against this A's team, who would be in 1st if not for the unstoppable Astros. The A's are coming at them with Sean Manaea back in peak form, the Chapman-Olson-Semien combo better than it's ever been, and Liam Hendriks raising hell in the ninth. This may be a close game, but I see the A's advancing, finally.
Verdict: A's over Rays

NL Wild Card: Brewers vs. Nationals
 Fun fact: The Brewers have more playoff series victories in this decade than the Nationals. The Brewers have made it to an NLCS twice- first in 2011 against the Cardinals, then again in 2018 against the Dodgers. The Nats have yet to win a playoff series, hilariously so. However, given the opportunity to play one game against a Brewers team that's weaker, less-realized, and, most importantly, has 98% less Christian Yelich than last year's team, I think they'll squeak one out. The Nats will also be starting Max Scherzer who has a leg up over literally any pitcher the Brewers choose to start.
Verdict: Nats over Brewers.

ALDS Part 1: Twins vs. Yankees
 Battle of the home run hitters, this series. Despite the impressive pitchers that both teams will bring out (Odo and La Makina in one corner, Sevvy and Paxton in the other), and despite the insanely fun bullpens in both cases (I am excited to see Sergio Romo, Taylor Rogers, Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton take this one on)'s gonna be about the home runs. And there will be several. I'm not exactly sure how the rosters will go, but even dark horses like Jake Cave and Mike Ford could hit some out. I predict this will go all five games, and be bloodthirsty...but the Minnesota Twins will be victorious. I honestly think they're more powerful than New York, and have better pitching. But it'll be close.
Verdict: Twins over Yankees.

ALDS Part 2: A's vs. Astros
 The thing about this being a division rivalry is that it's kind of easy to predict. Not just because it's a wild card team going up against the virtually unstoppable Astros, but because the Astros have won their season's matchups against Oakland 11 to 7. Which is honestly closer than I'd have expected. In fact, the A's have won the last series against the Astros, meaning they've definitely heated up as the season's gone on, and this could be a very tight race. But...this is still the Astros we're talking about, and I do think they'll trounce Oakland easily.
Verdict: Astros over A's.

NLDS Part 1: Cardinals vs. Braves
 I'm going to try to keep my anti-Cardinals bias out of this, but...this shouldn't be close. The Cards have been a good, but not great, borderline playoff team that only made it to first in the last month and a half of the season. Yes, they do have weapons like Paul deJong and Jack Flaherty at their disposal, but...look at the Braves. Look at how awesome the Braves have been. They dominated the NL East while still making the other teams feel like they had a chance, they let powerful seasons by Josh Donaldson, Mike Soroka, Ronald Acuna Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman go side-by-side without overwhelming anyone, and they're not...done...yet. I'm expecting a short series from these two.
Verdict: Braves over Cards.

NLDS Part 2: Nationals vs. Dodgers
 I'm trying to allow for spontaneity, even though these have been predictable outcomes so far. And I want to say that the Nats could finally win a playoff match here...but look at who they're playing. The Dodgers have only shown sparks of humanity this whole season, while the Nats have been a very tangible, human wild card team. The Nats have made a team work with Asdrubal Cabrera, Gerardo Parra and Erick Fedde clutching crucial positions, and with Fernando Rodney well-employed. And the Dodgers...are just on a completely different level. Bellinger, Turner, Seager and Muncy will be going wild in this series. I still think they'll go 4 games, but...I am expecting some LA blowouts.
Verdict: Dodgers over Nats

ALCS: Twins vs. Astros
 Okay, here's some spontaneity- I'm calling an upset. I think the Astros are gonna peak in the ALDS, and by the time they have to play the Twins, Verlander and Cole are gonna give up too many home runs, the lineups gonna roll gutter balls, and the legend of this Twins team, and of Rocco Baldelli, is gonna grow. I don't know what's fueling this. I don't know how accurate it is. I'm just looking at those home run totals, and at that pitching staff, and going...can the Astros even take that? I don't know if they can, even with a Cy Young winner on their staff.
Verdict: Twins over Astros.

NLCS: Braves vs. Dodgers
 Here...I'm not calling for an upset. Because even if this series goes all 7, I don't think the Braves can stop LA. This is the unstoppable factor the Dodgers have this year that Houston doesn't. I can see Houston losing a big game by double-digits to a team out of the question, or even the A's. This did not happen often to the Dodgers. They only had a few bad stretches, and thankfully a lot of them were early. I also think the Dodgers' pitching staff is more experienced, and more trained for October than the Braves, who are still dealing with trial and error after trading out most of their 2018 rotation for newer arms. It could be close, but...the Dodgers should have this one.
Verdict: Dodgers over Braves

World Series: Twins vs. Dodgers
 I find it funny that both these guys are in 60s designs, because this feels like a very mid-60s World Series. And while it may not be as explosive as the 2016 Series, or even the 2013 series, I'm predicting this one should be fun, and might go to 6 games. Overall,'s going to come down to whether the Twins can stop Cody Bellinger. And I don't think they can. I'm not saying he'll be the x-factor in this series, as that might be somebody unassuming like Gavin Lux or Joc Pederson, but...I don't think the Twins pitching, as good as it's been, can stop somebody huge like Bellinger. And while I may be wrong on MANY of these picks...I do think this'll be the year the Dodgers finally pull together a World Series.
Verdict: Dodgers over Twins.

So yeah. Let's see how wrong I am.

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