Playoff Baseball is Back and Better Than Ever

by Ryan Duvall ’21

The calendar has finally turned to October, which means playoff baseball is finally here! The MLB regular season concluded yesterday with two tiebreaker games on the National League side. First, the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers were all even in the National League Central lead through 162 games at 95-67 each.  Second, the L.A. Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies were tied in the National League West at 91-71. The tiebreaker games resulted in the Dodgers and Brewers clinching their divisions, which means the Cubs will host the Rockies in a one-game wild card showdown tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN. It’s win or go home — you don’t get any more exciting than that!  The other wild card game will be on the American League side, and will be played tomorrow night. It will pit the Oakland Athletics (97-65) against the New York Yankees (100-62). The A’s are one of the surprise teams of the season. They’ll have their work cut out for them against the mighty Yankees.


The winner of the National League wild card game will have to go against the number one overall seed on that side of the bracket — the Milwaukee Brewers.  Whoever has to battle the Brewers will have a tough time as they are led by National League MVP candidate Christian Yelich. His 2018 season has been very impressive, with a .323 batting average to go along with 36 HR and 109 RBI.  The other National League divisional series will feature the L.A. Dodgers facing off against the National League East champion Atlanta Braves (90-72). The Braves’ current roster is low on playoff experience as they have not had a trip to the postseason since 2013 (where they actually were knocked out by the Dodgers), but are loaded with talent.  The Braves have four All-Stars as well as rookie sensation Ronald Acuna. Acuna batted .293 while slugging 26 HR and 64 RBI. No one should overlook the Dodgers though, because they have won the NL West six years in a row and are last year’s runner-up (losing to the Houston Astros in the World Series).


In the American League, the winner of the A’s and Yankees game will have to go up against the MLB-leading Boston Red Sox (108-54).  The Red Sox have star power in pitching with Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11 ERA, 237 K’s) and hitting with Mookie Betts (.346 average 32 HR, 80 RBI), and are a force to be reckoned with.  Given how many games they won, they’re widely thought of as the favorites in the American League. The other American League divisional matchup should be a good one with the reigning World Series Champs, the Houston Astros (103-59), battling the American League Central champs, the Cleveland Indians (91-71).  Both teams are led by star pitching rotations, which feature players like two time Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber for the Indians, and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander for the Astros.


In order for teams to get past the Divisional Series, they must win three games in the best of five series, and then when teams move on to the Championship Series and World Series they must win four games because it’s a best of seven series.  Teams like the Brewers and Red Sox can benefit from having home field advantage throughout the playoffs as having their fans behind them can really factor in and intimidate the opposing team. Other factors that help teams make deep playoff runs is having strong relief pitching to keep starters fresh in order to win multiple series. Also, having star hitters is necessary because teams need to put up runs in order to win these games. My predictions for the World Series is, the L.A. Dodgers against the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers can reach the World Series as they are motivated to win now because they have gone to the playoffs six years in a row and have no rings to show for it. This west coast team will be playing angry baseball. The Red Sox are shoe-ins for the World Series. They are the best team in baseball for a reason, after all.