October baseball is upon us! Just a week ago, the Major League Baseball regular season was wrapping up and Wild Card games were to decide who made the postseason cut. And just like that, the Divisional Series are heating up. So what teams have what it takes to advance and eventually win the World Series? Here is why each team will or will not have a chance at a championship ring.
Cleveland Indians: The Tribe have a tough draw and need to get through a dominant Houston Astros club. However, they do have dynamic pitching in their rotation, which should be enough to keep them competitive. Names like Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen are all able to blow away opposing hitters. Yet, even with such imposing pitchers, they do not have the offensive production to get past Houston. The bats that carried the 2016 Indians to the World Series are just not there this year. They will likely have an early exit this postseason.
Houston Astros: As the reigning champs and my personal pick to repeat and win it all again this year, the Astros are clicking at all facets of the game. They won a league-leading 103 games this year and will use that momentum to stride past Cleveland. Their American League Championship Series matchup against either the Red Sox or the Yankees will be a tougher test, but the Astros have had success against the best teams in baseball all year long and I don’t expect them to be fazed by anyone. If Houston doesn’t win another championship this year, it will be because they made too many mistakes, not because they were the worse ballclub.
New York Yankees: As for the bad boys of baseball, they will have the toughest road to the World Series by my account. They had to battle through a Wild Card game just to face the the Boston Red Sox in the division series. These games between the two rivals will be intense and even if the Bronx Bombers do make it past Boston, they will have exhausted a lot of energy and roll into the next round with a depleted bullpen. The good news for New York is that they have a scary lineup that could explode for eight or ten runs any given day, which would relieve any pressure on the pitchers. So, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees can ride their bats to the World Series or if their season will end on the pitcher’s mound.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox are a bit of a toss up as to whether or not they will perform up to expectations this postseason. Boston seems to be well rounded with a balanced mix of pitching and hitting. At the same time, baseball is a game of hot and cold streaks and it feels as if the Red Sox may fall victim to an October cold front. Even if they do advance to face (probably) Houston, will they be able to string together the four outstanding games necessary to defeat the Astros? Doubt it.
Milwaukee Brewers: The surprise of the playoffs thus far has been the Brew Crew from Milwaukee. After trailing the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central division late in the season, they finished strong and ended up winning the division. What stands out to be the Brewers’ key piece is their deep bullpen full of vibrant arms. If the relief pitchers are able to dominate the late innings of these playoff games, then even with an average lineup, the Brewers can end up on top of the baseball world.
Colorado Rockies: After defeating the Cubs to advance to the NLDS, the Rockies learned that they will need the offense to be more efficient with runners in scoring position. They cannot afford to exhaust bullpen pitchers and waste great pitching efforts by stranding runners every other inning. If the Rockies can muster a few key hits per game that result in runs, they will have a shot at advancing to compete for the National League pennant.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The most complete team to come out of the National League appears to be the Dodgers. Between great offensive production behind the bats of Matt Kemp, Cody Bellinger, and Manny Machado, and the firepower on the mound including Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles seems likely to blow past the Braves. Also, the experienced gained from last year’s postseason run will undoubtedly help the Dodgers persevere this season.
Atlanta Braves: For the first time since 2013, MLB playoff games will be played in Atlanta. Fans can’t help but be shocked at the success of Braves this season as they were projected to finish third in the division and not really compete until next year. Atlanta has relied on steady starting pitching paired with some great young bats to win the division. This October, the Braves will have to string together quality starts from their pitchers. At the plate, veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman need to be consistent producers in the lineup. The Braves have a tough draw in facing the Dodgers but if the bats heat up, Atlanta fans could have a lot to celebrate moving forward.