So… I wasn’t entirely correct when it came to my predictions for the Wild Card series but that’s not going to stop me from trying to predict the outcomes of the Division Series matchups! The Wild Card series gave us some nice, exciting 3-game sets and at the end of the day, the better team came out on top. Checkout the current bracket that I stole from CBS Sports below:
Also, we are doing something a little different this time. I borrowed Justin DiSanto to write about the NLDS since he most likely knows more about the league than I do.
By Marcus Anderson
(5) New York Yankees vs. (1) Tampa Bay Rays
If you’re a Yankees or Rays fan, this is the matchup you wanted to see. I would prefer to see them in the ALCS but I’ll take what I can get. It’s Gerrit Cole vs. Blake Snell in Game 1. Cole has been lights out since the beginning of September and continued that against Cleveland in the Wild Card Series. Snell was also enjoying a nice bounceback season after a forgettable 2019 and threw 5.2 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays last week.
It’s no secret that these teams do not like each other. I little incident occurred earlier this year when Chapman threw near Brosseau’s head and the world acted like Chapman knows where his fastball is going 100% of the time. Whether it was intentional or not, Kevin Cash took exception to it and made some comments that suggested the Rays were going to retaliate in some way. I doubt something like that happens in the playoffs but all it takes is one pitch to get away from a pitcher and then the whole thing starts up again.
I expect this series to be a dog fight. The Rays are going to be the Rays and scrap for every run they get and throw random no-names with funky deliveries and hit 98 mph with ease. The Yankees are either going to be held to one or two runs, or they are going to mash, there’s no in between. The Yanks should be going into this contest with some confidence after besting Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, and the solid Indians bullpen. The Rays should be going into this knowing that they can beat this team like they have all year long. I would be surprised if this didn’t go 5 games.
Prediction: Rays in 5
(6) Houston Astros vs. (2) Oakland Athletics
I was really hoping that I did not have to write about the Astros this week. I would much rather see the Twins and White Sox go at it but we are stuck with what will probably be a boring matchup. Lance McCullers Jr. is pithing for the Astros in Game 1 and instead of talking about the Astros lineup, I would like to tell you a funny story about Lance. So Lance went to Jesuit high school in the Tampa Bay area and I went to Strawberry Crest High School which had just recently opened 2 years prior to this. So my team was a team of misfits from other schools and Jesuit was hands down the most successful program in central Florida. One night, we hosted Jesuit and we were in a certain mood that we just didn’t want to lose to them again. We actually had our shortstop on the mound and he threw low to mid-80s with a changeup as his only off-speed pitch. Somehow, some way, we were beating Jesuit 7-4 and it got to the top of the 7th (high school only plays 7 innings). At the time, Lance played shortstop when he wasn’t pitching, so naturally he hit as well. He comes up in the 7th and tries to put one on the interstate, however, he was whiffing. Our shortstop proceeded to throw a meatball down the middle and Lance swung so hard but came up empty for strike three. On his way to the dugout, he took his bat and hit himself in the forehead (with his helmet on) a good 4-5 times and everybody just stared at him because it was so loud. Needless to say, it was hilarious. We won that game and it felt good. I don’t feel bad telling this story because Lance ended up getting the last laugh by making it to the Major Leagues and I’m just sitting here writing blogs, but it was still funny. Fuck the Astros.
On a serious note, the A’s can still hit as they’ve shown against the White Sox and their solid pitching staff. I firmly believe that the stronger pitching staff will determine the winner this series as both of these teams offenses are similar in makeup. Which makes me believe that A’s will come out on top with Bassitt going Game 1 and Liam Hendricks continuing to be dominant in the later innings.
Prediction: A’s in 4
By Justin DiSanto
(6) Miami Marlins vs (2) Atlanta Braves
The series the world has been waiting for. Not really, but still who in 2020 or before would have ever thought the Miami Marlins would be competitive? Not I, but seriously, who the hell would have thought this would be the NLDS? The Braves were a given as the whole world wants to see them and the Rays make it to the World Series (or is that just me) but the Braves didn’t just get here by chance. After the loss of Josh Donaldson this off-season, the Braves needed a big bat to replace him in the middle of the lineup. They ventured far and wide in the free agent and picked up a former Marlin, Marcell the shell Ozuna. Ozuna has done nothing this year except hit the shit out of the ball. He was the missing cog in the wheel for an Atlanta offense that was desperate for another big bat to complement future NL MVP Fredwardo Freeman. Marcell led all of the National League in home runs and RBI’s as well as an OPS that came in at 1.067. Which is kind of good. Dansby Swanson looked like he figured something out at the plate most of the baseball world has been waiting for and has set the table nicely thus far. The Braves offense is not the problem. The one thing that might lose them this series; their pitching. Besides Max Fried, who will hopefully be an Atlanta Brave for awhile, next up is rookie Ian Anderson who has pitched lights out this year including the playoffs. The Braves third starter is lined up to be either Kyle Wright at the moment and if he can pitch to his potential, the Marlins are in trouble. Cole Hamels is a good guy and I respect him for all he does for the world and what he’s done for baseball and things like that, but damnit, we really could use you right now.
Those Marlins on the other hand I do not think are ready for what is about to happen. Although they did keep the season series competitive with 5 wins compared to the Braves 7, the Marlins just do not have the fire power the Braves possess. Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez are both legit starters but after that their next best option becomes Pablo Lopez. What has kept them in it so far has been their hitting. They went out and grabbed Starling Marte at the deadline, which was a bold move but I respect it, and unfortunately Marte has a non-displaced fracture on his fifth metacarpal. The metacarpal is the hand, basically, and baseball requires alot of hand work in the game so his status is probably questionable for the first couple games. There are other threats in their lineup such as Brian Anderson, Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas, and Garrett Cooper but we will see how they perform when the lights are the brightest.
Prediction: Braves in 4
(4) San Diego Padres vs. (1) Los Angeles Dodgers
This is going to be a series and a half. On one end you have the World Series Favorites and on the other you have a young fiery team in the San Diego Padres. The Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring Mookie Betts has paid dividends just like they expected. Mookie has set the table for them better than anyone has in the last few years and has contributed in every single aspect on the offensive side as well as his defensive prowess. Adding that bat to a lineup that already included last years MVP, Cody Bellinger, who for some reason just hasn’t looked like himself, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, a healthy A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor, rookie Edwin Rios, and future star Gavin Lux, the Dodgers are set up to mash. Then you mix that in with vintage Clayton Kershaw who has turned back the clock and is almost unhittable, but with well documented playoff struggles, Dustin May, Julio Urias, and of course Walker Buehler. The Dodgers set up for a deep run in the post-season and show no signs of slowing down.
Now we have the San Diego Padres who have built this team as is for the last few years for moments like this. The Padres have expected this series since day one. During the regular season the Padres are 4-6 against the Dodgers. The playoffs are another animal so really you can erase that from your head and clean the slate. The Padres have the hitting. Trent Grisham has been a great table setter for the Padres in his first full season in the big leagues, Jake Cronenworth has been another diamond in the rough A.J Preller said “thank you very much I’ll utilize him”, my boy and former Ray Great Wil Myers is playing like he did back in the good ol days with the Rays, Eric Hosmer, Jurickson Profar, Tommy Pham and some random guys that go by the names of Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis to even everything out. They are built to hit and thats just what they have done this year. They are the comeback team of the year in the regular season and most recently game two of the Cardinals Series. Pitching is the question mark. Both top starters, Mike Clevenger and Dinelson Lamet, are questionable heading into the series and that could be the breaker for the Padres. If the Dodgers jump out to an early lead, it’s going to be that much harder to overcome with the loaded lineup the Dodgers possess. The Padres bullpen is locked and loaded though with Drew Pomeranz, Matt Strahm Pierce Johnson, Emilio Pagan, and newly acquired Trevor Rosenthal. Starter Zach Davies has been Greg Maddux-esque never throwing a straight pitch as well as barely ever touching 90 mph. If I had to guess, he will be the game one starter if Clevenger and Lamet both can’t go. They have backup with Chris Paddack but even he hasn’t looked like the beast he was last year. This series is going to be very exciting with the Dodgers as the clear favorites but have floundered many opportunities in the past during the post-season. I think if any surprises come from the Playoffs, besides the Marlins somehow getting into the NLDS, it will be the Padres pulling out a series dub. However, the stars have got to align for that to happen.
Prediction: Dodgers in 5.
Thanks for reading!!