Photo credit: By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
I’d meant to post my predictions for the postseason over the weekend, but then I got stuck in a Madison Bumgarner wormhole.
As of this writing, Marcus Stroman has yet to throw the first pitch of the American League Wild Card game, so the prognostication procrastination is over.
AL Wild Card: Orioles vs. Blue Jays
Much has been made of Marcus Stroman’s struggles against the O’s, who have crushed right-handed pitching in general. Whatever edge the Orioles’ offense has over the Blue Jays’ versus righties — and it’s not that big — they lose due to the pitching matchup. In the second half, Chris Tillman just hasn’t been nearly as good as Stroman has. If it’s a close game and it goes to the bullpens, the advantage goes to the Orioles, but I could see an early exit for Tillman, who lasted six innings or more only three times in his last nine starts.
BLUE JAYS WIN.
NL Wild Card: Giants vs. Mets
I covered this one in my Bumgarner piece. Both Noah Syndergaard and Bumgarner have potential matchup issues here, but the Giants’ lineup just doesn’t scare me. I think the Mets take this one handily.
AL Division Series: Blue Jays vs. Rangers
Despite adding Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline, the Rangers’ offense slowed down in the second half, contributing to a negative run differential after the All-Star break. The Rangers may have the two best pitchers in Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, but the Blue Jays have the better, deeper rotation.
BLUE JAYS WIN IN FIVE.
AL Division Series: Red Sox vs. Indians
Even with losing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, the Indians have enough offense to make this interesting. Still, they’re no match for the American League’s best offense and one of the better rotations.
RED SOX WIN IN FOUR.
NL Division Series: Mets vs. Cubs
The rematch of last season’s NLCS should be a near-complete reversal. Not only do the Cubs feature a more potent offense than they did a year ago, but they won’t have to contend with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz. The Mets won’t get swept, but it won’t be all that close.
CUBS WIN IN FOUR.
NL Division Series: Dodgers vs. Nationals
The absences of Wilson Ramos and Stephen Strasburg really hurt the Nationals, and the Dodgers’ lefty-heavy lineup could be a challenge for Max Scherzer. The Nationals looked poised to advance farther in the postseason this time around, but their injuries will cause them to wait yet another year.
DODGERS WIN IN FOUR.
AL Championship Series: Blue Jays vs. Red Sox
The Blue Jays have a well-balanced team, but the Red Sox are a little better at everything. The Blue Jays’ back-end starters are a bit better, but that won’t be enough to extend this series, much less help them to advance to the World Series.
RED SOX WIN IN FIVE.
NL Championship Series: Dodgers vs. Cubs
While the Cubs’ run has an air of inevitability about it, the Dodgers match up nicely against them. They have been one of the better-hitting teams against righties, and while they have been abysmal against lefties, if they put Clayton Kershaw up against Jon Lester, they could still escape that matchup with a win.
The Cubs did win the season series, four games to three, and they’ll repeat that outcome by getting just enough out of Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta, who I think will rise to the occasion.
CUBS WIN IN SEVEN.
World Series: Cubs at Red Sox
The Red Sox have the superior offense and home field advantage. The Cubs have better pitching and defense. It’s hard to see this going fewer than seven games, no matter what, and being a contest between closely-matched teams, the No. 3 and 4 starters and closer could be difference-makers. The Cubs have a clear edge there, and it will win them the series.
CUBS WIN IN SEVEN.