MLB Playoff Outlook and Prediction 

Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play. Photo credit to Nick Hancock.

The hometown San Diego Padres aren’t in the MLB playoffs this season, but nevertheless, the matchups are enticing, and fans are in store for a wild October. Playoffs begin Oct. 3 with the Wild Card rounds kicking things off. Below are predictions for the Wild Cards and all the series following:

Starting in the American League (AL). The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays — AL East rivals — will face off in Tampa. The Jays are 6-5 against the Rays this season. Tampa lost key pitchers, like ace Shane McClanahan, while the Jays are essentially healthy in all areas. I see the surging Blue Jays taking this series on the road.

As of now, the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros are set to face off in the other AL Wild Card matchup. However, the Astros have the potential to move up in the seeding and push the Texas Rangers to the Wild Card.

Regardless of who has to pay a visit to Minnesota’s Target Field, I see the teams from the AL West dominating the Twins. Minnesota comes from the weakest division in all of baseball — the AL Central — and the playoffs are going to expose this. 

Now, onto the National League (NL) Wild Card matchups. Another pair of division rivals — the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies — will be facing off. Despite the Phillies being the better team on paper, the Marlins have a 7-6 record against Philadelphia.

Like the Rays, the Marlins lost an important pitching piece toward the back end of the season. On the flip side, they also acquired some blistering hot bats at the trade deadline in Jake Burger and Josh Bell. Both Burger and Bell have rejuvenated the Miami offense. 

However, the Phillies are coming off a World Series appearance, and I don’t see a young, inexperienced Miami team spoiling their hopes of returning to the big stage. I’ll take Philly in this matchup.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers complete our list of teams playing in the Wild Card round. The Diamondbacks are another team that really shouldn’t even be in the playoffs. They’ll likely steal Game One with their Cy Young candidate pitcher Zac Gallen on the bump, but after that, the Brewers, who have had a steady presence in playoff baseball for quite some time now, will reel it in and put Arizona in their place.

It’ll be Toronto and the Baltimore Orioles going head-to-head in the AL Division Series. The Orioles have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, and while their pitching scares me, I still think they can prove why they are the top seed in the AL.

If any team knows the Orioles best, though, it’s going to be their division rival Blue Jays, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play solid October baseball. This series will be fun and scrappy, but a fiery Baltimore team with nothing to lose is going to show out in the playoffs. 

The Rangers vs. Astros series will be another AL division rival matchup and one that proves experience trumps talent. The Rangers haven’t been in this position in a while, but the Astros are becoming all too familiar with the high-stakes environment of playoff baseball.

Houston’s pitching staff and juggernaut of an offense are going to be far too much for Texas to handle. The bright lights are going to get a bit too bright for the Rangers, and I see Houston running away with this one.

Back to the NL, and also back to a matchup that gives me deja vu. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers seem to meet each other at some point in the playoffs each year, and the Dodgers demolish Milwaukee each time. It’s going to be no different this year. 

The LA offense is one of the best in baseball, and it’s going to roll through the Brewers. Milwaukee’s pitching is one of the few in the league that might stand a chance against those Dodger bats, but it’s their offense I’m worried about. If guys like Christian Yelich and William Contreras aren’t hot for the Brew Crew, you can already write them off as a potential World Series contender. 

The final matchup in the Division Series will have the Atlanta Braves and Phillies going at it in a rematch from last year. Atlanta has been the best team in baseball almost all year, and it’s tough to bet against them. Their pitching woes are my only concern, but their offense is scary good. There isn’t a guy in the lineup who can’t do damage, and that aspect of their team makes them incredibly dangerous. As much as I want to believe in the Phillies, Atlanta has proved this year is theirs to lose, and I don’t see them choking in their opening round.

Now, onto the AL Championship Series. I hate to side with the top seed in the league, but the Orioles have this one in the bag. The Astros have gone on an impressive ride in the playoffs, making it to four of the past six World Series. However, I see the Orioles putting an end to this and proving that they are the new team to beat. As long as their pitching comes through, their offense won’t have a problem producing runs. This series is easily going to six or seven games, but the Orioles and that faithful Baltimore crowd are taking it all the way to the World Series.

The NL Championship Series. The Braves and Dodgers. Realistically, this matchup should be the World Series, and it’s a shame they both can’t make it. This is another matchup that I see going six or seven games, and I’m going to side with the Braves. The Dodgers time and time again let a great season slip away, and I just can’t trust them. The Braves played some record-breaking September baseball, and they are going to carry it all the way to the World Series.

Now, for the Series. Atlanta has been here before. Baltimore hasn’t. Once again, I’ll take the experience. The Braves didn’t have one cold streak this season. They have a roster full of experience and game-changing talent. The Orioles do too, but they need time to develop. Their bullpen is exciting but young, and the same goes for their bats. It won’t be the last time we see Baltimore in the World Series, but Atlanta is taking this one. The Braves have meticulously crafted a world-class team, and we are going to witness them reap the benefits of this overpowered squad.