2018 ALDS & NLDS
Brewers in 4
The Colorado Rockies had a hard road to the Division Series, as they had to play three games in three days, in three time zones, culminating with a 2-1 win over the Cubs in the Wild Card Game. The Rockies pitching is stretched incredibly thin as they begin the NLDS in Miller Park against the surging Milwaukee Brewers. No team played better down the stretch, as Milwaukee needed to win their last eight games including going into St. Louis and sweeping the Cardinals just to have a chance to tie up the Cubs in the final weekend. Add in an impressive tiebreaker win in Wrigley Field and you can see the Brewers are poised for a long run.
The Brewers had success against Colorado in the regular season, winning five of seven games. Both teams have solid bullpens, though the Brewers pen is deeper, with Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffers and Josh Harder each recording double-digit saves. Wade Davis led the National League with 43 saves, but can at times get in trouble, with an ERA over 4.00.
The Rockies have more weapons in the middle of the lineup, but the Brewers lineup is deeper and more versatile with Christian Yelich playing at a higher level over the last six weeks to take the MVP in the National League. The Brewers have more value off the bench, thanks to the acquisition of Curtis Granderson who is used to playing in high-level games in October.
The Rockies most reliable pitcher, Kyle Freeland was used against the Cubs, giving Milwaukee another big edge in starting pitching. Unless the Rockies get some big blows from Noland Arenado and Trevor Story, the Brewers have a big advantage up and down the spectrum. Look for Milwaukee to win the battle of the Beer named ballparks in four games.
Dodgers in 3
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been here before, coming one win away from winning the World Series in 2017. At times this year, the Dodgers were sleepwalking as they never truly found their groove until late in the season. The Atlanta Braves are a young and hungry team, that is in the playoff well ahead of schedule. Though with a team of postseason neophytes going against a veteran Dodgers team with six straight Western Division Championships its hard to see the Braves standing much of a chance of actually winning the series.
After dealing with heart issues, Kenley Jansen looks healthy and ready to assume the role as the Dodgers reliable stopper in the ninth inning. The Braves weakness is their bullpen, as they searched all season to find someone who could reliably close wins in the ninth inning.
While Clayton Kershaw has had his troubles in the postseason, he still is better than anybody in the Atlanta rotation. Add in the strong September from Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler and the Dodgers pitching looks stacked, with Mike Foltynewicz as the Braves only truly reliable starter.
Ronald Acuna Jr., Ender Inciarte, and Ozzie Albies can create havoc on the bases for the Braves, and Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis are both tremendous clutch hitters. However, the Dodgers have a red-hot Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner a postseason hitting machine to drive the bus for their lineup. That’s leaving on Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Manny Machado and Comeback Player of the Year Matt Kemp, all of whom are able to hit a big home run any time.
The Dodgers beat the Braves five of seven meetings in the regular season, and hold too big of advantage up and down for this to be anything but a sweep.
Red Sox in 5
It is baseball’s ultimate heavyweight showdown as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox meet in the postseason for the first time since 2004 when Boston made the historic curse breaking comeback from down 0-3. The two best teams for most of the season, each reached the century mark in wins, the first time the two archrivals did that in the same year. The Red Sox had the best regular season in franchise history at 108-54, and if they don’t win this series their season will be viewed as a failure.
Despite 108 wins, there is much to worry about for Boston as Chris Sale has fought through shoulder stiffness in the last two months, if they are to go far in the playoffs they need Sale to be their ace. David Price who had a great second half is historically awful in the postseason at 0-8 as a starter and he has never pitched well against the Yankees. Rick Porcello seems to do well against the Yankees, but Alex Cora has slated him to pitch Game 3, while Nathan Eovaldi who had dominated the Yankees is not scheduled to start at all. Eovaldi could help the Red Sox beleaguered bullpen, as they can’t rely on anybody besides closer Craig Kimbrel. The Yankees bullpen hold a tremendous edge it is deep and it versatile, with four pitchers (Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and Zach Britton) who could provide shutdown innings and close.
Both teams have strong lineups that can light up the scoreboard. While the Red Sox are faster and more versatile, not needing to rely on the big fly to score. The Red Sox also are much better defensively and that is where this series could swing, as the Yankees corner infield defense is not good, with Miguel Andujar being a butcher at third base. Give the Red Sox extra outs and you are asking to lose. This series has five games written all over it, the Red Sox won the season series 10-9, which is as tight as it gets. This one will be hard fought and intense and the winner could be left so beat up and exhausted that they are doomed to lose in the ALCS. The Red Sox will be that winner, benefiting from Game 5 at Fenway.
Astros in 4
With all the talk about the 108-win Red Sox and the 100-win Yankees, the Houston Astros are sitting back saying remember us, we won this whole thing last year and we won 103 games this year, which is two more than they won last year. The Cleveland Indians may not have won as much as the other three Division Series teams, but at 91-71 after winning the pathetic Central Divison they are under the radar and could be the ultimate dark horse.
The starting pitching could be the key to this series, as both teams have strong starters but questions out of the bullpen, as the usually reliable Cody Allen and Andrew Miller had disappointing seasons for Cleveland, while postseason bullpen struggles carried over, with Ken Giles being sent to Toronto. Justin Verlander was terrific for Houston and is a candidate to win the Cy Young add in Gerrit Cole and the Astros have one of the top rotations in baseball. Though Cleveland with Corey Kluber a 20-game winner and Carlos Carassco can hang with anyone.
As we saw last October, the Astros lineup is deep and relentless, as they set a record for most home runs in World Series history. The Indians, have some big bats themselves, but Houston has the edge 1-9, with players like George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa joined by Alex Bregman who had a breakout season with a team-best 31 home runs.
When examining the series from afar, so much has to go right for the Indians to get the upset, as the Astros are deeper and stronger having completed the quest to win the World Series just last season. The Indians came close in 2016 and had a special year last season, but it almost feels like they missed their chance, especially with the struggles out the bullpen. Look for the Astros to win this series in four games.