Astros @ Athletics
Just when your thought the 2017 Astros Cheating Saga couldn’t deliver more entertainment, the Astros go and upset the Twins to book a bout with former Astro turned MLB snitch Mike Fiers and his Athletics… oh, and it’s being played at Dodgers Stadium. Incredible.
The Astros had a very mediocre regular season (29-31) however pitched superbly against the Twins in the Wildcard Series. They also produced enough runs to sweep the series, despite the likes of Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve contributing very little. If they get hot, and the pitching plays its part, watch out.
The Athletics survived a scare against the plucky young White Sox and progressed through as many expected, however the often lights-out bullpen stuttered somewhat and will need to find its groove or risk elimination. Can they score enough runs without Matt Chapman, or will Marcus Semien and Matt Olson carry the load?
Prediction: Athletics in 5.
Yankees @ Rays
For the Rays, this is their biggest series since 2008, against a team they now describe as a bitter rival. The powerhouse Yankees however won’t bat an eyelid at MLB’s soft-spending minnow and despite some bad blood during the regular season, won’t engage in the mudslinging.
The Rays had a huge seven game lead in the season standings and many believe are the American League’s team to beat. However, they didn’t have to overcome the injuries that this Yankees team did and with many of those Bronx Bombers now returned, they probably enter the series on even terms.
The contest will be won with pitching and the Rays will need Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow to stand tall against a Yankees line up which mashed 22 runs in a two-game sweep over the so-called pitching powerhouse Indians, last week.
Prediction: Yankees in 5.
Padres @ Dodgers
After eight years of dominance in the West, the Dodgers finally have a legitimate challenger and it’s Californian rivals, the talented Padres who boast one of the hottest lineups in baseball. That they’ve now both progressed past the Wildcard Series to meet in the playoffs, would surely have Dodgers fans nervous.
The Padres’ lineup is capable of winning it all, backed by the likes of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer and more. One through nine they mash, and will certainly come out firing on the big stage. The concern though, is the rotation, missing the injured Dinelson Lamet and still possessing doubts over Mike Clevinger.
The Dodgers lineup is packed with power, with Mookie Betts, AJ Pollock, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger leading the way. They deservingly start the series as favorites, but only just. Can Clayton Kershaw finally stand up when it matters most? With potentially two starts required, he needs to…
Prediction: Dodgers in 5.
Marlins @ Braves
Upstaging the more fancied Mets, Phillies and Nationals in baseball’s strongest division, the Marlins are the feel-good story of 2020 and are certainly the hardest team to predict. They’re young, brash and playing full of confidence, a combination that could definitely see them progress deep into October.
The Braves, however, are one of the most consistent teams in baseball, with a lineup to be envied. Lead by MVP lock Freddie Freeman, the lineup boasts an endless array of talent – Ronald Acuna Jr, Marcel Ozuna, Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson and more. The pitching staff, led by Max Fried, is also full of consistency and are a sure bet to silence the occasionally inconsistent Marlins lineup at some point.
For the Marlins to sneak ahead, they would need huge series’ from Brian Anderson, Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper, however I just can’t see them scoring enough runs to outlast the mighty Braves.
Prediction: Braves in 5.