Predicting The Outcome Of The 2017 MLB Postseason
With the 2017 MLB season entering its final month-and-a-half of play, many fans are just counting down the days until the postseason starts. Unlike most years, there aren’t very many big division races this late in the season — which has been a cause for boredom.
The only divisional race is the National League central between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Every other division leader is winning it by comfortable margins. It seems like a sure-thing that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will play in the N.L. Wild Card Game, but things are wide open in the A.L.
So while some fans try to see if their teams can squeak in, most of the World Series contenders are just sitting back with feet on their couch, waiting for the real games to arrive. It’s not far off, so now’s a good time to play the fun game and see how the 2017 postseason will go down.
*Stats courtesy of ESPN.com and are as of Aug. 14*
18. AL WILD CARD
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
As things look right now, the American League Wild Card Game will feature a pair of teams that barely finish over .500. Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles both required 89 wins to play in the wild card game.
The New York Yankees were once in the A.L. East race, but a brutal showing in July and for most of August thus far means they’ll likely settle for a wild card spot. Aaron Judge has carried them this far, but now he’s in a huge slump. The rotation looks sub-par at best, with Masahiro Tanaka and newcomer Sonny Gray struggling. But the big bats will propel the Bronx Bombers to the top wild card spot.
Facing the Yankees? The Minnesota Twins — who are finally piecing it all together after spending nearly a decade rebuilding. Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario are all enjoying fine seasons. Their terrific lineup helps Minny barely nab the second wild card spot over a half-dozen other playoff hopefuls.
17. AL WILD CARD WINNER
The Yankees better hope that Luis Severino will be able to start this game; that they don’t have to use him for Game 161 or 162. He’s their only reliable pitcher in that rotation. But even then, I have to give the advantage to Twins ace Ervin Santana — who has 12 wins and a 3.26 ERA this season.
Minnesota’s lineup has more depth than the Yankees, who have non-coincidentally been lifeless at the plate with Aaron Judge in the midst of an awful slump. That doesn’t bode well for a team trying to win a one-game playoff.
The Twins have a great combination of speed, athleticism and power in their lineup. They don’t rely solely on homers like the Yankees are guilty of. With Santana on the mound, the Twins win their first playoff game since 2004.
16. NL WILD CARD
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies
Two extremely feel-good stories will face off in the National League Wild Card Game. For the Diamondbacks, it’ll be their first playoff berth in six years, while the Rockies will play postseason ball for the first time since 2009.
Both teams feature high-powered lineups. Colorado ranks third in runs scored, while Arizona ranks sixth. The Rockies feature a ton of elite hitters in Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Mark Reynolds, D.J. LeMahieu and Jonathan Lucroy.
Meanwhile, Arizona features Paul Goldschmidt — a darkhorse NL MVP candidate, plus Jake Lamb, David Peralta and Chris Owings. But the D-Backs are also powered by a terrific pitching staff that’s 3.59 team ERA is only bested by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arizona is a well-balanced team all over, but the Rockies lineup has been tough for opponents to stop. Something’s gotta give.
15. NL WILD CARD WINNER
Pitching wins in the postseason, and the Diamondbacks undoubtedly have the edge here. As mentioned earlier, their 3.59 ERA is the second best in baseball. The Rockies rank 21st at 4.67.
Arizona has two legitimate aces in Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, but everyone knows that the former will be on the mound for the single-game elimination. The Rockies will likely counter with Kyle Freeland, who has 11 wins and a 3.70 ERA. Solid, but not quite spectacular.
But the Diamondbacks also get the nod because of their far superior bullpen; one that carries a 3.70 ERA. The Rockies? 4.50 with opponents batting a respectable .258. Arizona has the better pitcher and the more reliable bullpen. So they punch their ticket to the NLDS.
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
The defending AL champions will face the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS for the second consecutive year. Despite fielding the best offence and 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, the Red Sox were embarrassed by the Indians — who swept them with ease in three games.
Right now, the Red Sox are playing better than the 2016 team we saw get swept. They have Chris Sale putting up a historic season, but Indians’ ace Corey Kluber is not far off. Boston also doesn’t have feared slugger David Ortiz, whereas the Indians will have a pair of power hitters in Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce this time around.
Both teams have terrific bullpens, a well-balanced lineup and star aces. But Cleveland and Boston don’t have much depth in their respective rotations, which is cause for concern. These teams are evenly matched on paper. So who takes it?
13. ALDS WINNER
Cleveland Indians, 3-1
Last year’s Red Sox were filled with young players that couldn’t seem to handle the postseason pressure. Andrew Miller was a huge weapon in the playoffs, and should be able to once again take down Boston’s top hitters.
Will Chris Sale rise up in the playoffs? Many aces like Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and David Price have disappointed in postseason games. But Kluber nearly guided the Indians to a World Series, and he’s proven to be money in the playoffs.
I also like Cleveland’s lineup way more. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley bring terrific balance of speed and power. Dustin Pedroia is battling a knee injury, and the Red Sox don’t have any true power hitters.
Cleveland uses Kluber, its elite bullpen and a strong lineup to once again eliminate the Red Sox in the ALDS. They’ll need one extra game to do it, though.