MLB Postseason Predictions

With only a month left in the MLB regular season, this is a look ahead to my predictions for the 2018 playoffs.

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By Jason Lin

With both teams fighting for control of the National League West division, resurgent veteran Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers stepped up to the plate against the Arizona Diamondbacks’ relief ace Archie Bradley on the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning on September 1. On a 82-mph curveball that hung in the strike zone, Kemp drove the ball into deep centerfield, clearing the fence by at least 20 feet. His home run gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. They would go on to win the game and tie the Diamondbacks atop the division. Not to be forgotten, the Colorado Rockies are only half a game back from both teams in the division. This race, along with many others, will come down to Game 162. Here, I break down who will reach the postseason and who will win the coveted World Series.

Wild Card Games

American League

New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics

As the season begins to come to a close, it is more and more evident that the Yankees and Athletics will not catch their division leaders, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros, respectively. In this do-or-die one game playoff, the Yankees will send out ace Luis Severino to pitch while the A’s will counter with… Mike Fiers? With Sean Manaea on the disabled list and unsure about a return this season, the Athletics don’t have a true ace. Despite Severino struggling in the second half of the season, he has begun to find his form. He’ll be able to go six innings before handing the ball off to the vaunted Yankees bullpen, and the lineup will hit their way to a victory. 6-2, Yankees.

National League

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Despite being neck-and-neck with the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have one of the most difficult schedules for the rest of the season. They will falter but still hold on to claim the second wild card spot from the Milwaukee Brewers. In a pitching duel of Zack Greinke and Miles Mikolas, Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals will stake out an early lead. However, as the game turns to the bullpens, the advantage shifts to Arizona, as Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta will go hard off the shaky Cardinals ‘pen. Cardinals center fielder (and Horace Mann alum) Harrison Bader will do all he can in the outfield, but the Diamondbacks will squeeze out the win. 4-3, Diamondbacks.

Division Series

American League

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

This is a fun series. It is a new era of a storied rivalry with fresh faces and different team personalities. However, per usual, it will come down to the wire. Assuming Chris Sale comes back healthy for the Red Sox, and Chapman and Gregorius are back for the Yankees, the series will go five games. The X-factor will be Aaron Judge and the health of his wrist. He is currently on the disabled list after breaking his wrist on a hit-by-pitch in July. Judge at 100 percent makes the team much more dangerous. While the Red Sox have their trio of B’s in the outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts to go with potential triple-crown winner J.D. Martinez at DH, the Red Sox boast one of the strongest lineups in the MLB. However, they are flawed. The bullpen is a mess outside of Craig Kimbrel, and the starting pitching is a huge question mark outside of Sale. I might be a Yankees fan, but the Yankees will torch the Red Sox bullpen in all series. In an era when the team with the best bullpen usually wins the most in October, the Yankees move on to face the winner of Houston/Cleveland. Yankees win series 3-2.

Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians

In another exciting matchup, the Astros look to defend their 2017 championship led by their young superstars including Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer. With a 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole atop the rotation, their pitching is nothing to make light of. They should be able to handle the Indians. Headlined by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and recently acquired Josh Donaldson, the Indians are a very strong team. Coupled with their stellar outfield and the pair of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, they will steal a game or two. However, they have not been healthy and their bullpen has many holes, setting up a rematch of 2017’s ALCS. Astros win series, 3-2.

National League

Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

The “Lovable Losers” no more, the Cubs have become one of the most formidable teams in the MLB. Now, with the meteoric rise of superstar Javier Baez, Chicago becomes that much more daunting. This team has no holes in the field and can hit 1-9 in the order. Addison Russell and Ian Happ, two would-be starters on most teams, are coming off the bench. The depth is incredible. With Joe Maddon at the helm, this team has no glaring weakness outside of a slightly questionable bullpen. On the flip side, having burned through Zack Greinke in the Wild Card, the Diamondbacks will go with Patrick Corbin and work from there. They will win a game, but the Cubs should cruise to a series victory. Cubs win series, 3-1.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

The Dodgers are heating up at the right time. New acquisitions Brian Dozier and Manny Machado are fitting in nicely with the team, and Clayton Kershaw and the pitching staff are rounding into form. After a year of being decimated by injuries, the Dodgers are getting healthier and stronger for the stretch run. They will knock off the Braves. While the Braves have been a great feel-good story, they are still a year or two away from seriously contending. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies have stepped into their own, and Freddie Freeman continues to a consistent presence at first base. However, Atlanta doesn’t have the starting pitching or bullpen to compete with the Dodgers. Next year might be a different story, though. Dodgers win series, 3-1.

Championship Series

American League

New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros

This is the series we’ve all (at least all of us Yankees fans) been waiting for. At long last, it’s time for redemption. Again, the X-factor of the series is Judge. Working under the assumption that he’s almost completely healthy and back to being a dominant force in the lineup, the Yankees team can hold their own against anyone. Despite a rotation made up of Verlander, Cole, and Dallas Keuchel, the Yanks will overpower Houston, hitting home runs in crucial moments late in the game against the Astros bullpen. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez will find his stroke and prove to be the difference maker in the series. Yankees win series, 4-3.

National League

Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are a flawed team. They lack a stable bullpen besides closer Kenley Jansen, and their defense up the middle is not the best. As well as Machado can hit, he is the worst defensive shortstop in the MLB (-16 runs saved according to FanGraphs). However, they can always rely on their starting pitching rotation of Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Walker Buehler (side note: Walker Buehler is a great name). This rotation will do its best to slow down the Cubs. The return of Kris Bryant from the disabled list and new additions Daniel Murphy and Cole Hamels will be too much, though. The Cubs are the more complete team and will send the Dodgers home early once again. Cubs win series 4-2.

World Series: New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs

This is such an intriguing matchup. Jon Lester vs. Luis Severino in game one, followed by Cole Hamels vs. Masahiro Tanaka in game two. The Yankees are similar to the Cubs of two years ago with new and up-and-coming talent. Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres are the two frontrunners for rookie of the year and will not shrink away on the biggest stage. Giancarlo Stanton will show Yankees fans why the Yankees traded for him. The biggest weakness for the Yankees is their starting pitching and, more recently, their bullpen. However, this is just a rut for the Yankees’ bullpen, and the Yanks will once again return to dominance in the late innings of ball games. This, in turn, will help rectify their biggest issue of starting pitching, as starters will only be needed for five innings. On the flip side, as previously mentioned, the Cubs’ depth will be on full display this World Series. For the third straight year, the World Series will go seven games. If Yu Darvish were healthy for the Cubs, this might be a different story. Instead, in a third matchup of Severino against Lester in game seven, both teams will go to their bullpens early. It is here the Yankees’ strengths will shine through. Gleyber Torres will hit a critical home run to break it open. Didi Gregorius will be flawless in the field. Aroldis Chapman will shut down his former team in the ninth. The Bronx will end up on top for a 28th time.

Winner: Yankees in 7.