We might be a few weeks into the football season but we can't ignore the true reason why we love October: playoff baseball! This month is arguably one of the best months to be a sports fan even though some might argue that April or May is better with NBA and NHL playoffs along with the start of baseball and several other sports showcasing their big events like horse racing, golf, tennis, boxing, and race car driving. OK, maybe April or May is better but I still love October!
No major surprises with the baseball field. If we tried to predict who would be in the postseason right after the All Star Break, I think most of us would have guessed 8 or 9 of the 10 teams in the playoff field. So who wins it all? We will start with the Wild Card playoffs which are one game playoffs and provide in-depth analysis.
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees: Taking the Bronx Bombers here. They have consistently been in the playoff field all season and own a very strong home record. Plus starting pitching Luis Severino is a strikeout artist and has had a great September. The Twins offense has come alive in the 2nd half but the pitching has been OK. Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana has been solid this season but he does struggle against #2 and #3 hitters. Expect Yankees manager Joe Girardi to put Aaron Judge at #2 and Gary Sanchez at #3. Judge finished the season strong with an impressive September and is a lot better at home than on the road. He also hits righties really well. Prediction: Yankees.
Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks: Pitching tends to win the day in baseball and that is precisely the path we will take here. The Rockies have been a fun team to watch and while I wouldn't mind seeing them knock the Dodgers around in the next round, they simply don't do well on the road. In fact, their OPS at home is .862 but .703 on the road. Their strikeout rate is 20.8% at home while it's 24.6% on the road. Arizona starting pitcher Zack Greinke can rack up the K's quite easily. He is a strong postseason record and really good numbers at home. Plus his numbers against the Rockies this season have been stellar with 37 strikeout and just 2 walks in 34.1 innings pitched. Given the fact that Greinke has a 2.87 ERA at home and the Diamondbacks own the 2nd best home record in all of baseball, we find it hard to go against Arizona here. Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray has had an amazing September but he is young so we feel the pressure will get to him. The heart of the lineup for Arizona is really, really good, especially with JD Martinez who had a September to remember with 16 HRs, 36 RBIs, .404 BA, and 1.409 OPS. I don't think he has had any issues adjusting to NL pitching! Prediction: Diamondbacks.
For the rest of the playoffs, we won't do any deep analysis until the teams are set and pitching matchups are established. Still, it's fun to predict what will happen!
BOS 3 - HOU 2 (Chris Sale is way too good and Houston doesn't have the pitching to get it done.)
CLE 3 - NYY 1 (Indians seem like the team of destiny this year.)
WAS 3 - CHC 1 (Just like Houston, Chicago doesn't quite have the pitching and Washington does.)
LAD 3 - ARZ 1 (Dodgers struggled the last few weeks but with Greinke pitching in the Wild Card and Kershaw most likely getting two starts, we have to give the edge to LA.)
CLE 4 - BOS 0 (Did you see how Sale imploded against Cleveland this year?! Kluber is the better pitcher and rest of Indians pitching is championship quality.)
LAD 4 - WAS 2 (Pains me to say it but the Dodgers will finally end their World Series drought. This team is too good and I like how they are managed. Plus Nationals manager Dusty Baker is bound to make a big mistake somewhere in the postseason.)
CLE 4 - LAD 1 (No Randy Newman "I Love LA" blaring over the loudspeakers. The Indians will end a 69 year World Series drought and exorcise so many past Fall Classic demons. They can match the Dodgers in every aspect of the game and are simply playing better baseball in the 2nd half of the season.)