The MLB Playoff Bracket is set after yesterday’s tiebreaker games, and the MLB playoffs begin tonight at 8:00 PM. Above is my complete bracket for the MLB Playoff Challenge. Below is a brief look at each match-up. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.
AL Wild Card Game
(4) New York Yankees over Oakland Athletics (5)
Oakland’s pitching staff has been better this year, but I do not see their rotation as an elite playoff rotation. The Yankees lineup will tear this pitching staff apart, led by the home run hitting duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
(1) Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees (4) , 3-2
The Yankees have given Boston a hard time, so I think this series will be close. The Yankees have been able to dominate against certain Red Sox starters such as David Price. But the Red Sox have the home-field advantage, and they have two MVP-caliber players in their lineup, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. The Sox lineup has the depth and talent to outdo the Yankees pitching staff.
(2) Houston Astros over Cleveland Indians (3) , 3-0
The Astros have most of what they had in last year’s World Series: a stacked lineup filled with youth, power, and speed and a dominant playoff rotation. They come in to this series with a weaker bullpen though. Both of these lineups are playoff-caliber, but I see this series as a battle of two of the league’s top rotations, the Astros led by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, and the Indians led by Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco. These games will be low scoring, but I see the Astros sweeping as their lineup is able to manage the tough opposing pitching more easily.
(1) Boston Red Sox over Houston Astros (2) , 4-3
The Astros have one of the best rotations in the league plus an amazing lineup. But the Red Sox have one thing Houston doesn’t. A strong closer in Craig Kimbrel. If their rotation can hold up for a good portion of the series and their offense gets going like it has for a lot of the season, I think they can do something they haven’t done much of this year: beating the other elite teams. The Red Sox have taken advantage of their easy match-ups, but it’s time for them to step it up when it matters.
NL Wild Card Game
(4) Chicago Cubs over Colorado Rockies (5)
The Rockies lineup is very talented, but despite improvement in 2018 that got them here, I don’t see their pitching holding up on the road against a well-rounded Cubs team. Chicago will take advantage of the Rockies’ weak pitching staff, get out to an early lead, and their pitching staff will be able to help the Cubs hold it easily.
(4) Chicago Cubs over Milwaukee Brewers (1) , 3-1
The Brewers rode their momentum to a division title. They have a young, talented lineup that’s mostly a product of the 2017-18 off-season and a huge MLB Trade Deadline. But I think this Brewers lineup is containable, and if there’s any pitching staff in the National League that can contain them, it’s the Cubs. The Cubs should also thrive offensively against a young Brewers rotation that’s still developing.
(2) Los Angeles Dodgers over Atlanta Braves (3) , 3-1
Led by young talent, the Braves pulled out an NL East victory. However, I think they rode easy division competition to this victory. Their rotation is okay, but I don’t see their lineup as playoff caliber. The Nationals would likely be here if they weren’t so hampered by injuries this season. They may have won it all. But the Dodgers can contain a young, developing team like the Braves. Led by Trade Deadline acquisition Manny Machado, Their lineup has the power and talent to give this Atlanta rotation trouble, and their deep pitching staff will benefit them significantly. I see this series as an easy win for the Dodgers.
(4) Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers (2) , 4-3
This will be a very interesting series. The 2016 World Series champion against the 2017 World Series runner-up. The Dodgers still have a World Series-caliber roster. Their rotation is more than capable, and they come in with a stronger offensive attack this year. But the Cubs have a deep, young lineup, and although they might struggle against this solid Dodgers rotation, I could see them taking advantage of a weak Dodger bullpen. The Dodgers will put up a serious fight, but I think the Cubs pitching staff can contain them for a good portion of the series.
(1) Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs (4) , 4-3
I think this is the year for the Red Sox. Two of Boston’s last three World Series titles were partially due to momentum. The Cubs have a World Series caliber roster. They haven’t seen the Red Sox yet, and they may very well be a better team. The NL was a very competitive league, while the AL was a league of extremes. Chicago’s record may very well be an NL equivalent of the Red Sox’s record.
But I think the Red Sox will ride the momentum they gather in the ALDS and ALCS to win the World Series. Their pitching will need to finally hold it together, but I think they are capable, as long as they can rely on the momentum this talented lineup gathers. It won’t be easy against a strong, well-rounded Cubs team, but I don’t think Red Sox Nation should give up hope.
That’s all for my MLB Playoff Predictions. Stay tuned for more baseball articles.