MLB Playoff Preview
By Kyle Miller, Staff Writer
The calendar has turned to October and that means MLB playoffs are in full swing. Both of the wildcard games are completed and now we are underway with the division series.
The National League wildcard game pitted the Washington Nationals against the Milwaukee Brewers and it was a good one. The Brewers jumped out to an early lead going up 3-0 against the almost unhittable Max Scherzer. In the bottom of the 8th inning the Brewers were leading 3-1 and it seemed as if they had it in the bag when they brought in Josh Hader.
Hader is one of the league’s most dominant relief pitchers, but he just did not seem like his usual self this outing. Hader got the first out of the inning, but then hit Michael Taylor. Next Hader struck out Trea Turner to get the second out. Ryan Zimmerman extended the inning with a single and then Anthony Rendon followed with a walk, bringing up the young star Juan Soto with the bases loaded and two outs.
Soto lined a single to right field and with the help of an error from the Brewers rookie right fielder Tristan Grisham, the bases were cleared and the Nationals took the lead 4-3. The Nationals held on to win the game and look to win the franchises first playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The American League wildcard game was the Tampa Bay Rays versus the Oakland Athletics. The Rays jumped out to take the lead just like the Brewers did against the Nationals. The Rays offense was powered by the long ball as Yandy Diaz homered twice, and Avisal Garcia and Tommy Pham both added a homer of their own.
The Athletics had chances to score but could not get the big hit to bring in runs. Rays ace Charlie Morton was able to make his way out of jams with the help of a double play and some nice defensive plays behind him. The Rays bullpen shut down the Athletics, giving them the chance to face the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
The first NLDS series consists of the top seeded Los Angeles Dodger versus the Washington Nationals. The Washington Nationals have never won a playoff series in franchise history and it is unlikely they will this year. The Dodgers won 106 games this season and have one of the most complete teams in all of baseball.
The Dodgers and Nationals were 5th and 6th in runs scored showing how even their offenses are. The difference will be pitching, but not the starting rotations. Both the Dodgers and Nationals have great playoff rotations that will give them great outings. The Nationals bullpen, though, ranks 29th in the MLB and has always caused them issues. I see the Dodgers winning this series comfortably in three games.
The next series in the National League is the Atlanta Braves versus the St.Louis Cardinals. The Braves earned home field advantage as they had the better record during the regular season winning 97 games. The Braves offense led by Ronald Acuña Jr scored over 100 more runs during the regular season than the Cardinals.
Each team has a young ace, Jack Flaherty for the Cardinals and Mike Soroka for the Braves, and solid veteran presences in their rotation. I think the Braves offense will be too much for the Cardinals to handle and they will win the series in five games.
The first ALDS series is between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros. I’m sorry to all the Rays fans out there, but I think this series will be a clean sweep. The Astros have an unreal playoff rotation of Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke. The Astros also have one of, if not, the best offense in baseball. I don’t see any case in which the Rays can win this series.
The next ALDS series is the New York Yankees facing off with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins came a bit out of nowhere this season to win 101 games and take the division title from the Cleveland Indians who have won it the past three years.
This series is the most interesting one to me. Both teams have good, not great pitching. I think the Yankees have a slight edge on the Twins pitching wise. Both teams also have similar, home run reliant, offenses. The Twins lead the league in home runs with the Yankees trailing them by only one. I think the Yankees will win this series in four games, but it all comes down to which pitchers limit the long ball in two hitter friendly parks.