Now that we’ve taken a closer look at each division and have given each team a projected record, it’s time to predict what will unfold in the postseason.
#1 Seed- New York Yankees (99-63)
#2 Seed- Houston Astros (96-66)
#3 Seed- Cleveland Indians (86-76)
#4 Seed- Boston Red Sox (89-73)
#5 Seed- Tampa Bay Rays (86-76)
#1 Seed- Los Angeles Dodgers (98-64)
#2 Seed- St.Louis Cardinals (91-71)
#3 Seed- Atlanta Braves (90-72)
#4 Seed- Chicago Cubs (90-72)
#5 Seed- Washington Nationals (88-74)
AL Wildcard Game: Rays vs Red Sox
Assuming health isn’t an issue, the playoffs will start with a power lefty matchup between Blake Snell and the Rays versus Chris Sale and the Red Sox. Although it is very tempting to take the Rays to win thanks to their genius utilization of their pitching staff, the talent gap between these two teams will become evident in a one-game playoff. Boston has much more offensive firepower, home-field advantage, and postseason experience. Plus, it’s much easier to trust Sale to shut down an average Rays lineup than for Snell to have success against a powerhouse Red Sox lineup.
Prediction: Rays 1 Red Sox 5
NL Wild Card Game: Nationals vs Cubs
In the NL Wild Card round, the Nationals and Cubs will match up in a game that should be exciting to watch. Both teams match up evenly to each other in terms of star power, and it’s anyone’s guess who’d come away from the victory at Wrigley Field. The tiebreaker here looks to be the pitching matchup; Max Scherzer is incredibly superior to anyone the Cubs have to offer. Therefore, if Washington can manage to score two to three runs, they’ll likely have this game won. That’s extremely manageable for a potent lineup, and with a dominant performance with Scherzer, the Nationals move on to the NLDS.
Prediction: Nationals 3 Cubs 0
ALDS: Red Sox vs Yankees
For the second straight season, one of the greatest rivalries in sports will be renewed; the Yankees and Red Sox will once again face off in the ALDS. Although the Red Sox came away with the series victory last season, the turns have turned, and the Yankees now have home field advantage in this scenario. In addition, their bullpen is significantly better than Boston’s, and their lineup and bullpen are at least on par. The Red Sox won’t go down without a fight, but New York is clearly the better team and will move on the ALCS by taking down their rivals.
Prediction: Yankees win in four games
ALDS: Indians vs Astros
Also a rematch of last year’s ALDS, the Indians and Astros will once again face off a year after Houston won the series via a sweep. With Trevor Bauer in the rotation instead of injured and in the bullpen, Cleveland’s rotation is strong enough to keep this series close. However, the Astros are still the far superior team when it comes to their offense and bullpen, and in the end, the team will advance to the ALCS to play the Yankees.
Prediction: Astros win in five games
NLDS: Nationals vs Dodgers
The road gets tougher for the Nationals, as they have to travel straight to Los Angeles to take on the powerhouse Dodgers. Still, they’ll be well up to the task. Though the Dodgers have a very strong rotation, Washington’s is slightly better. Plus, the Nationals’ lineup also goes head-to-head with the Dodgers’ impressive lineup, and their bullpen isn’t significantly worse. Part of this is mental, too. While the Dodgers have lost back-to-back World Series and may not be able to handle the toll of another long postseason, the Nationals have actually never made it to the NLCS and didn’t even reach the playoffs last season. This may seem like odd reasoning to justify the Nationals winning this series, but there’s a reason that it’s incredibly rare for a team to go to the NLCS for three, not to mention four straight seasons. This is definitely an upset, but the talent gap isn’t obvious at all; the Nationals’ benefits outweigh any of Los Angeles’.
Prediction: Nationals win in four games
NLDS: Braves vs Cardinals
In an intriguing matchup, to say the least, the Braves and Cardinals will do battle in what would look to be a very entertaining series in this world. Back in the NLDS for the second consecutive season, it’s tempting to say that the Braves will learn from their past experience. However, St.Louis is a completely different animal and has some key advantages on their side. One is a clearly better rotation; St.Louis’ rotation is more reliable that Atlanta’s young group. Plus, it always helps to have veterans such as Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on your side, considering their postseason experience. 2019 will be a year of growth for Atlanta; many of their young prospects look to make an impact at the major league level. However, that doesn’t translate to postseason success, and with a more established roster, the Cardinals should have no problem taking care of the Braves in a quick series.
ALCS: Yankees vs Astros
Wow. That’s all there is to say about the prospect of another Yankees-Astros ALCS. When these two teams faced off in the 2017 ALCS, we were treated to a seven-game series that saw the Astros come out on top. This series has a chance to be an all-time classic; it will likely come down to Game 7. In that case, it makes sense to take the Yankees, who have the home-field advantage in this scenario. There’s more to it than that; New York’s bullpen makes them built for the playoffs, while the back-end of their rotation is easier to trust than Houston’s. The Astros have the power arms to expose the Yankees power bats, but that honestly could work in either direction and there looks to be just enough in New York’s favor to assist them in fighting off Houston. If the Astros had home field advantage in this world, then maybe they would be the pick. They don’t however, and the Yankees move on to the World Series as a result.
Prediction: Yankees win in seven games
NLCS: Nationals vs Cardinals
Interestingly enough, my projected NLCS features two teams that did not even make the playoffs last season. Still, both of these teams are clear World Series contenders, and it’s hard to find any sort of talent gap between the two. Considering that the Nationals will have just had to travel to Chicago AND Los Angeles on their way to upsetting both teams, it’s easy to imagine that possible exhaustion will become a factor for them. Plus, the Cardinals have the advantage of opening this series at home, have a deeper pitching staff, and are more experienced. St.Louis is notorious for advancing far during the postseason – except when they play the Giants – and that should remain the case this year with a World Series berth.
Prediction: Cardinals win series in six games
World Series: Cardinals vs Yankees
That leaves us with a World Series featuring two of the game’s most histroic franchises: the Cardinals and the Yankees. Though the Cardinals are well deserving of being in this year’s fall classic, this is a no-brainer; the Yankees are the clear superior team in about every facet. New York’s bullpen has a chance to dominate through the entire postseason, while its power lineup and solid rotation fills out what is a team built to win the World Series. Plus, it can’t hurt that the Red Sox just won it all in 2018, meaning there’s pressure for New York to do the same this season. The Cardinals have enough talent to force a Game 6, but about all the resistance they’ll be able to provide before succumbing to the powerhouse that is the Yankees.
Prediction: Yankees win the World Series in six games