The Major League Baseball playoffs begin tonight and tomorrow night with the National League Wild Card game tonight and the American League game tomorrow night. The Houston Astros with a record of 107-55 have the home field throughout the postseason provided they advance all the way. The LA Dodgers finished 106-56, the Yankees were 103-59, and the Twins finished 101-61. The Braves and the A’s completed their seasons at 97-65, the Rays were 96-66, the Nationals finished 93-69, the Cards were 91-71 and the Brewers finished 89-73.
The winners of the NL (Milwaukee @ Washington) and AL (Tampa Bay @ Oakland) wild card games will head to Los Angeles and Houston respectively, while the Braves will host the Cardinals and the Yankees will entertain the Twins.
The World Series commences on Tuesday, October 22nd, and will continue with game 7 on Wednesday, October 30th. FOX will televise the Fall Classic. TBS will televise tonight’s Brewers @ Nationals game while ESPN will televise the Rays @ the A’s tomorrow night. TBS will televise the National League Division Series (NLDS) and the National League Championship Series (NLCS) while Fox Sports 1 will handle the ALDS and the ALCS. Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci will handle the World Series with Joe on the call, Smoltzie with the color commentary and Rosenthal and Verducci doing on field reporting. A-Rod, Frank Thomas, the Big Hurt, and a host of others will handle the pre-game and the postgame commentary for FOX during the World Series.
Here’s a look at this year’s playoffs and who I like to win each round and which team will win it all late this month.
NL Wild Card Game
Milwaukee Brewers (89-73) @ Washington Nationals (93-69)
Brewers, left hander Brandon Woodruff, 11-3, 3.62 ERA, 121 innings pitched 30 walks, 143 strikeouts, 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, walks plus hits per inning, great stat. Pitchers at 1.15 to 1.05 are excellent, pitchers under that number are superb. Woodruff is 1-1 in the postseason with a 2.19 ERA in 4 games and 12 innings.
He’ll face Nationals right hander, the great Max Scherzer, who is 11-7, with a 2.92 ERA 33 walks and 243 K’s, and a 1.02 WHIP. In 16 career postseason starts, Scherzer is 4-5 with a 3.73 ERA with 100 K’s in 82 innings and a 1.11 WHIP. Scherzer is a bulldog and this is a super matchup as Woodruff is stellar as well.
7:08 PM CT
I like Scherzer to perform in the clutch tonight and the great 3rd baseman for the Nats, Anthony Rendon (34 homers, 126 RBIs and a 6.3 WAR, more on that in a second) to lead the Nats over the Brewers.
Nationals 4, Brewers 3
WAR is the measurement that stands for Wins Above Replacement. Rendon’s WAR of 6.3 means that the Nationals win 6 more games with Rendon in the lineup than with a substitute who would take his place. It’s an awesome stat. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, the likely NL MVP, leads the majors with a 9.0 WAR. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, the likely AL MVP, is 2nd at 8.4, followed by the Angels Mike Trout (8.3), the A’s great shortstop Marcus Semien (8.1) , and Justin Verlander, the likely AL Cy Young winner, though it’s not really likely, it’s a slam dunk, is tied for 5th with the Rangers Mike MInor. Awesome stat, tells a lot about a player and these guys are all on playoff teams except Trout and MInor. Trout got hurt in late August and never came back, but had a heckuva season hitting .291 with 45 homers and 104 RBIs and a 1.083 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage, another excellent stat. Anything over .900 is excelling. over 1.000 for 5 years or so is Hall of Fame stuff).
AL Wild Card Game
Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) @ Oakland A’s (97-65)
Starters: The Rays will start right hander Charlie Morton who had an outstanding season finishing 16-6, with a 3.05 ERA, with 57 walks against 240 K’s in 194 innings and a 1.084 WHIP. In 7 playoff starts, Morton is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA, 31 K’s in 31 innings and a 1.21 WHIP.
He’ll face A’s left hander Sean Manaea, who came in late in the season from injury and went 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA with 7 walks and 30 K’s in 29.2 innings. His WHIP was an astonishing 0.775. Manaea has not pitched in the postseason.
Wednesday, 7:09 PM CT
I like the Rays to go into Oakland and pull off the upset. The Rays timely hitting led by right fielder Austin Meadows, who hit .289 this season with 33 homers and 89 Ribeyes and a .922 OPS, and was named player of the month in September in the American League , along with the experienced Morton and a stellar bullpen, get it done in Oakland.
Tampa Bay 5, Oakland 3
starts Thursday in Los Angeles and continues Friday in Atlanta
Dodgers over the Nationals in 4
I like the Dodgers to advance against a good starting pitching staff, but a pretty weak bullpen.
Braves over Cardinals in 5
I look for a very competitive series here, but for Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna to carry the Braves over the top.
Starts Friday in Houston and continues Saturday in New York.
Astros over Rays in 4
While I love some Rays, they get it done with the lowest payroll in the majors, it’s an amazing story, it’s too much to ask going against Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA, 0.803 WHIP, 42 walks and 300 K’s and a 7.8 WAR) Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA, 48 walks, 326 K’s, 0.895 WHIP, 6.8 WAR, will finish second to Verlander in the Cy Young) and Zack Grienke.
Yankees over Twins in 5
Both these teams hit a ton of home runs with the Twins hitting over 300 this season and Yankees right at that mark. I like a highly competitive series with the Bomahs prevailing at Yankee Stadium in game 5.
Dodgers over Braves in 7
The Braves have had a phenomenal season and they’ve got a shot here, but I like the Dodgers to squeak it out.
Astros over the Yankees in 6
Bregman hit .296 this season, with 41 homers and 112 Ribeyes and an 8.4 WAR. He and Mike Trout were neck and neck for the MVP until Trout got hurt in August. This guy is a phenom. Combine that with Verlander, Cole and the pitching staff, and a ton of hitting with Jose Altuve and company, and this winning machine will head into the Fall Classic on full throttle.
Dodgers vs. Astros
In the preseason, I picked the Dodgers over the Astros in 7. It’s hard to pick against the Astros with that starting staff and that tremendous hitting lineup, but the Dodgers are very strong as well, and I like Cody Bellinger (.305, 47, 115, 1.035 On Base plus slugging percentage, OPS) and a strong starting pitching staff led by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler to prevail in a phenomenal Fall Classic.