Alrighty folks, the MLB playoffs get underway tomorrow night starting with the AL wild card game. I'm here to break down some of the matchups and potential matchups throughout the postseason for ya. I'll also throw in my predictions. So here we go.
AL WILD CARD GAME
Houston Astros @ New York Yankees
Dallas Keuchel (HOU 20-8, 2.48 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY 12-7, 3.51 ERA)
This game freaks me out so much. Dallas Keuchel has thrown 16 shut out innings against the Yankees this year. The Yankees lineup is full of lefties. I'd be lying if I wasn't scared about losing this game. Mostly because it's one and done. It sucks, but that's what you get for blowing an 8 game late July lead in the division. There are a few reasons why I think the Yankees can win this game though. Overall, the Yankees offense has been able to put up enough runs in games to win more often than not. Dallas Keuchel has been shaky on the road throughout the season, with a road ERA up near 4.00. He's also going to be pitching on 3 days rest while Tanaka will be pitching on a solid 5 days rest. The Yankees are a good home team, and the Astros are HORRID on the road. So even though the Stros won the season series in kind of dominating fashion, I don't see the Yanks losing this game. The Yanks get to Keuchel just enough, Tanaka goes 7 strong and hands it off to Betances and Miller in the 8th and 9th to shut it down. Yankees 3, Astros 1.
NL WILD CARD GAME
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Jake Arrieta (CHC 22-6, 1.77 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (PIT 19-8, 2.60 ERA)
The beauty of these one game wild card playoffs is that we get to see some unreal pitching matchups. Jake Arrieta has been INSANE in the second half of the season, and Gerrit Cole has steadily been one of the best pitchers in baseball as well. The sucky part about this game is that one of the best three teams in baseball is going to be eliminated from the playoffs after ONE GAME. That's not cool. Just from watching the games I can, these teams seem like they're very similar. Solid pitching, solid hitting, but not overwhelmingly fantastic at either. Just two very good overall baseball teams that figured out their own ways of getting a lot of wins. This game is gonna be about as low scoring of a game as you can get though, with these two guys on the hill. I think Jake Arrieta stays on a roll and gets the job done. He may never give up another run. Cubs 2, Pirates 0.
AL DIVISION SERIES
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Potential Pitching Matchups:
Game 1: Yovani Gallardo (TEX 13-11, 3.42 ERA) vs. David Price (TOR 18-5, 2.45 ERA)
Game 2: Cole Hamels (TEX 13-8, 3.65 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (TOR 4-0, 1.67 ERA)
Game 3: Marco Estrada (TOR 13-8, 3.13 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (TEX 4-3, 4.91 ERA)
Game 4: R.A. Dickey (TOR 11-11, 3.91 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (TEX 17-9, 4.66 ERA)
Game 5: Gallardo (maybe Hamels on short rest) vs. Price
(Games 4 and 5 are only if necessary, obviously. Also, these aren't the set rotations, just what I would think they'd be based on each team's situation.)
Now, on to what I actually think is going to happen in this series. Both of these teams ended the season on an absolute roll. The Blue Jays already had a great offense, but getting Troy Tulowitzki (even though he sucked, and then got injured) somehow made them score 10 runs EVERY game, and also getting David Price at the deadline somehow turned every other starter into other David Prices. Kinda unreal if you ask me. The Rangers on the other hand just figured out how to win games. They have a solid offense, but by no means a strong rotation. Hamels was a great pickup at the deadline, but the only other starter with an ERA under 4.00 is Gallardo and I think that's more because he's had a lot of 5-6 inning starts giving up 0-2 runs than him actually being that great. He won't give you a lot of innings. However, he has shut down the Jays this season. The other two, they're gonna need a lot of run support to win. To me, this is about the Blue Jays making the playoffs for the first time since 1993. They aren't gonna win. They're gonna choke and let down their stupid Canadian city and I'm gonna love it. Rangers win series 3-2.
New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals
Potential Pitching Matchups:
Game 1: Luis Severino (NYY 5-3, 2.89 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (KC 10-13, 3.48 ERA)
Game 2: Michael Pineda (NYY 12-10, 4.37 ERA) vs. Yordano Ventura (KC 13-8, 4.08 ERA)
Game 3: Edinson Volquez (KC 13-9, 3.58 ERA) vs. Tanaka
Game 4: Kris Medlen (KC 6-2, 4.01 ERA) vs. Adam Warren (NYY 7-7, 3.29 ERA)
Game 5: Severino vs. Cueto
As for this series, I don't know how the Royals managed to keep home field advantage with the Blue Jays absolutely on a tear, but they did. And I thank them for that. Because the Yankees would probably get swept by Toronto. Anyway, the Royals had a great season overall, making the playoffs for the second straight season and winning the AL Central. However, I don't think they're that great. Their offense isn't terrific, and their pitching hasn't been either (especially in September). That being said, the Yankees clearly haven't had much figured out lately either. They aren't a very good baseball team. But, you give me Severino twice and Tanaka in a 5 game series, I'm gonna pick the Yanks. Pineda is a crapshoot and Warren is better as a reliever. Obviously that would have been Sabathia's start if he weren't a drunk, but that's what we have. Fortunately, I don't think the Royals rotation is much better. I think New York will get the offense on track against KC (maybe 11 runs in the first two innings of one of these games like back in May) and they'll have just enough pitching. KC won't have enough. All their starters are righties. The Yankees line up is filled with lefties. Time to go to work. Yankees win series 3-2.
NL DIVISION SERIES
New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Potential Pitching Matchups:
Game 1: Jacob DeGrom (NYM 14-8, 2.60 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (LAD 19-3, 1.66 ERA)
Game 2: Matt Harvey (NYM 13-8, 2.71 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (LAD 16-7, 2.33 ERA)
Game 3: Brett Anderson (LAD 10-9, 3.69 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (NYM 9-7, 3.24 ERA)
Game 4: Alex Wood (LAD 5-6, 4.35 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (NYM 4-0, 2.27 ERA)
Game 5: DeGrom vs. Greinke
This series is gonna have some absurd pitching matchups. On paper at least. And Don Mattingly might choose to go with a 3 man rotation to make some even better matchups. Gotta love postseason baseball. This is gonna be another great series. The Mets offense which was once just terrible is now pretty respectable, but their superb starting pitching is why they won the NL East easily. The Dodgers had another solid season, following their ridiculous two aces and formidable offense. However, Clayton Kershaw is infamous for his playoff struggles. I don't really have a reason to believe he won't struggle again, so I think I like the Mets in this series. Now I know the Dodgers as a team have the playoff experience and are probably in better position than New York, but I just think those four starters for the Mets are too good for LA's hitters. Home field advantage will definitely help LA as they had one of the best home records in baseball, but the Mets are fine on the road. I think they split in LA and then the Mets finish off the Dodgers at home before having to go back. Mets win series 3-1.
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Potential Pitching Matchups:
Game 1: Jon Lester (CHC 11-12, 3.34 ERA) vs. John Lackey (STL 13-10, 2.76 ERA)
Game 2: Jason Hammel (CHC 10-7, 3.74 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (STL 17-7, 3.38 ERA)
Game 3: Lance Lynn (STL 12-11, 3.03 ERA) vs. Arrieta
Game 4: Jaime Garcia (STL 10-6, 2.43 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (CHC 8-7, 3.95 ERA)
Game 5: Lester vs. Lackey
Another series with some great pitching matchups. I'm sick and tired of the Cardinals so I'd love to see the Cubs advance. The Cards overall as a team have the all important playoff experience, but the Cubs are young and hungry. Jon Lester is one of the best postseason pitchers in recent memory, and that's coming from a Yankees fan who saw most of that pitching done in a Red Sox uniform. He's just really good when it matters most. So if I were the Cubs, I'd feel incredibly comfortable giving him the ball twice in this series, and Arrieta will take the hill in game 3. For me, that's enough to pick the Cubs. I know the Cardinals won 100 games and all, but I actually don't know if they're that great of a baseball team. They have great pitching obviously, but when they're up against a solid offense a pitching staff on the other side, it may cause them some problems. I think Lester, Arrieta, Rizzo and Bryant lead the Cubs to a huge series win over the rival Cardinals. Cubs win series 3-2.
AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
I feel like these two teams are pretty evenly matched. A couple hitters in the Rangers line up scare me, but they aren't unstoppable. And their pitchers are more than hittable. Unfortunately, so our the Yankees pitchers. And the Yanks lineup ain't that great either. So it should be a pretty good series. I'm not scared of Cole Hamels because the Yankees already beat him in a World Series, and everyone else should be pretty easy to handle. Hopefully Tanaka and Severino can each pitch twice in this series. It might not even have to get to that point but, if so I like the Yanks chances. I kinda like the Yanks chances regardless. Yankees win series 4-2.
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
A Subway Series would be pretty cool right? Nope, Cubs are too good. They owned the Mets this year and they're going to continue to do that. I really like this Cubs team and I think they're going to shut down this Mets offense. Like I said, Lester and Arrieta are going to be one of the best postseason pitching duos you'll see. The Mets staff is great, but those young arms will get tired I think, Matt Harvey will throw some sort of temper tantrum/not show up for the game he's supposed to pitch/get taken out after 5 innings because his agent told him to and the Mets will lose the series. Cubs win series 4-1.
Chicago Cubs vs. New York Yankees
Cubs Yankees would be a CLASSIC World Series. Yanks going for #28, Cubs going for their first since 1908. It would be awesome, awesome stuff. So I keep talking about Lester and Arrieta. But you wanna know who will be better? Tanaka and Severino. Obviously, on paper this seems ridiculous. But I'm a Yankees fan, and I watch these guys every night. These two are gonna put those young buck Cubs hitters in a God damn web and laugh in their faces. Can't wait. A-Rod goes yard 3 maybe 4 times off Lester in the series. Gonna be terrific. Sorry Cubs. Yankees win series 4-2.
I was pressed for time today trying to finish this blog up before I go do things tonight, so sorry for the less serious, and less detailed analysis towards the end, but whatever. Also, if I weren't a stupid delirious, "get my hopes up" Yankees fan, my picks would be Cubs over Royals. Because the Yankees shouldn't be in the playoffs. But they're gonna win the World Series. You see what this team does to me?? Shit. Just go Yankees.