Opinion Sports

MLB Playoff Predictions: Who’s In, Who’s Out, Who’s Winning?

We’re officially less than a month away from the best time of the year: playoff baseball. As per usual, there have been surprises to the season, like the earlier-than-expected success of the Baltimore Orioles and the shockingly disappointing seasons of the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. Few things are more unpredictable than the outcome of professional sports, but that’s what I’m going to attempt to do. 

National League (NL)

  1. Atlanta Braves 
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Philadelphia Phillies 
  5. Chicago Cubs 
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks 

American League (AL)

  1. Baltimore Orioles 
  2. Houston Astros 
  3. Minnesota Twins 
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Seattle Mariners 
  6. Toronto Blue Jays 

It isn’t the most exciting prediction, as it’s how the playoff picture would shape up if the season were to end today, but there are a few different scenarios that I could see play out. 

I could see the Cubs leapfrogging the Brewers, but the Cubs have a tougher schedule to play out, and I always lean toward pitching. Offense can take you a long way, but pitching puts you over the top. The Cubs’ rotation relies heavily on Justin Steele, who’s been arguably the best pitcher in baseball this year, but the Brewers have the three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. Give me the Brewers.  

The Mariners could very well pass up the Astros, and by my logic previously stated, they probably have a better chance of moving up than the Cubs because of their strength in starting pitching. However, I just can’t bet against the Astros (even as a Dodger fan). They’ve been so dominant the past few years, and they have so much experience under their belt; this team isn’t going to give up the division easily. 

Now, onto my actual October baseball predictions. With this outcome, the two NL Wild Card Series will be Brewers vs. Diamondbacks and Phillies vs. Cubs. I have the Brewers winning the series 2-0 and the Phillies beating the Cubs 2-1. 

The Diamondbacks are simply too young and inexperienced for me to believe they can go into Milwaukee and win a best-of-three. If they do win one, it’ll be Game 1 with Zac Gallen on the hill, but beyond that, I don’t see them beating two of Burnes, Woodruff or Peralta in Milwaukee. 

In the Phillies-Cubs series, Justin Steele will come out guns-a-blazin’ and shove to win Game 1 and increase his Cy Young odds. Besides that, it’s all Phillies. Their offense has the experience of a World Series run last year and too many talented bats to not make it out of the first round. 

For the AL Wild Cards, I’ve got the Blue Jays taking out the Twins 2-0 and the Mariners beating the Rays 2-1. 

The Twins haven’t done much this year to impress me. Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez are a solid 1-2 punch, but neither of them hold a candle to Kevin Gausman when he’s on, and Jose Berrios has had a solid bounceback season, one comparable to Lopez’s. The Jays’ offense is electric and much more talented than Minnesota’s. These factors, combined with the fact that Toronto fans travel well, lead me to believe the Blue Jays will clean house. 

The Mariners-Rays series is much more interesting, though. The Rays have had more sustained success over the past few years and have objectively been the better team this season. With that being said, I love the trio of Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert at the front of the Mariners’ rotation. The three of them combined have an ERA of 3.39 and a WHIP of 1.05. Those stats are ace-worthy, and that comprises all three pitchers. 

The resurgence of Julio Rodriguez has bolstered Seattle’s offense greatly, and this team is hungry for success. It’s no secret that the Rays slowed down after the first few months of the season, and the losses of Shane McClanahan and Wander Franco are detrimental. For those reasons, I’ve got the M’s. 

The second round is where the Phillies and Brewers will fall. The Braves and Dodgers are the most complete teams in baseball, and I don’t see a world in which either the Phillies or Brewers beat them. The two best lineups in baseball featuring the two NL MVP candidates have to face off in the NLCS, right? I sure think so. 

Atlanta and Los Angeles have lineups that are simply too overpowering for Milwaukee and Philly. However, I said that San Diego had no shot against LA last year and look what happened. 

Here’s where things get really interesting. I’ve still got the favored Astros beating the Blue Jays, but the Mariners will make it to their first ALCS since 2001. Kyle Bradish has been a miracle worker for the Orioles’ rotation, but again, I love the Mariners’ pitching staff. When dealing with two young and inexperienced teams, I’ll always lean toward the pitching. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here. 

That being said, the Mariners will fall to the ‘Stros in the ALCS. The Houston offense is a lot better, and the addition of Justin Verlander will help bolster the rotation and assist Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. Rodriguez is exciting but can’t carry this lineup past Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. 

The NLCS will be the most fun series of the entire postseason, and the Braves will come out on top. The Dodgers’ and Braves’ offenses are comparable, but the Braves’ pitching is the icing on the cake. 

The Dodgers are rolling out a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, Ryan Pepiot and Lance Lynn. Meanwhile, the Braves have Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Bryce Elder, Charlie Morton and Darius Vines. Julio Urias and Walker Buehler are huge pieces to the Dodger pitching staff that will be greatly missed this October. 

Finally, I’ve got the Braves winning it all. It isn’t a hot take by any means, but they’re so freakin’ dominant. They have the star power of guys like Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Austin Riley and more. Statistically speaking, they’ve got a better offense, starting rotation and bullpen than the Astros. Atlanta will win it all by beating Houston yet again.