by Aaron Jaffe ’21
The race through October is well underway. This MLB season was played over 60 games instead of the prototypical 162 game sleight. Due to COVID-19, fans were not allowed in stadiums from opening day through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The MLB is currently using two neutral host sites for the LCS, Petco Park in San Diego for the ALCS and Globe Life Field in Texas for the NLCS. Fans have since been allowed to attend in Texas, where 11,500 tickets are sold for each game of this series and eventually the World Series. The newly introduced playoff system has debuted, bringing 16 teams to the postseason instead of 10. In the American league, the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays defeated multiple division rivals to get to the ALCS, sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays and then taking down the New York Yankees in five. Their opponent, the Houston Astros, swept the Minnesota Twins in an upset before beating the Oakland Athletics in four. For the National League, The NL West winning Los Angeles Dodgers swept both the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Diego Padres en route to the NLCS. Opposing them is the NL East champion Atlanta Braves who also swept their way to the NLCS, defeating the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins. Instead of waiting until the World Series matchup is officially set, why not dive into who each of the four final teams would want to play in the fall classic.
Tampa Bay Rays: Atlanta Braves
If you did not know, the Tampa Bay Rays held the best record in the American League in this shortened season. The Rays were not even the favorite to win their own division to open the year. Tampa Bay wants to get out in front early in games and use their bullpen, which has been great throughout the postseason. Against a weaker starting rotation with Atlanta, the Rays would have to prefer seeing the Braves rather than taking on the loaded Dodger roster in the final series.
Houston Astros: Atlanta Braves
While I know that a Astros/Dodgers 2017 World Series rematch is enticing for fans and possibly the Houston players too after all the hate they received following the sign stealing scandal, the Astros should also want Atlanta. If there is one thing that Astros do best, it is their bats. The Dodgers have serious firepower as well as a better starting rotation with the cherry on top being the motivation LA would have to win this time around makes Atlanta seem like a world easier.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Houston Astros
This side of the new rivalry between Houston and LA wants the rematch. The Dodgers have been vocal about feeling cheated out of a title three seasons ago. The Dodgers had the best record in baseball, finishing 43-17 in the short season, setting pace for 116 wins if it was a 162 game campaign. The Dodgers .717 win percentage was best in franchise history. Their roster has every possible need ready and taking on the Astros would be the best way for LA to end their recent postseason disappointments.
Atlanta Braves: Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are a certainly well-rounded team, but their ability to hit for power doesn’t compete with Houston or Atlanta. The Braves have been able to rely on rookie pitcher Ian Anderson but still need to make up for a lack of experience in their starting rotation for the World Series by scoring a ton of runs, which is less likely to be matched by the Rays offense. Atlanta has a bullpen that can match what Tampa Bay brings, so the Braves who are trying to win an offensive battle would be much better suited against the Rays.