Each division series will truly live up to its name, as all four matchups will be played against division rivals. The wild card round had plenty of upsets, so we’ll see if this best-of-five round will be as unpredictable as the best-of-three.
Tampa Bay Rays (1) vs New York Yankees (5)
Both teams made fairly light work of their wild card opponents, sweeping their series. While the Rays’ pitching staff was the difference against the Blue Jays, it was the Yankees’ offense that somehow dominated against arguably the best pitching staff in the game. If New York can do what they did against the Indians, they can do it against anyone, including Tampa Bay. Don’t forget, the Yankees led the division until they were decimated by injuries.
Oakland A’s (2) vs Houston Astros (6)
Both teams proved us wrong in the wild card round, beating two of the best teams in baseball. The Astros pitching staff, which could give them the edge in this series, was particularly impressive and their stars finally performed like stars. The A’s, meanwhile, don’t seem to miss Matt Chapman, as their offense and defense were clicking against the White Sox in games two and three. Behind a solid pitching staff and talented roster of their own, Oakland has the edge against the unpredictable Astros.
Los Angeles Dodgers (1) vs San Diego Padres (4)
The series that seemed inevitable almost all season long is finally here. A lot of the success of the Padres will be determined by the health of their pitchers. As for the Dodgers pitching staff, Clayton Kershaw’s gem must have instilled confidence that this is the year he dominates in the playoffs- unless, of course, Slam Diego’s loaded offense has something to say about that. Since this series is best-of-five, it’s more likely that the better overall team moves on, and no pitching staff or lineup has been better than the Dodgers’ this year.
Atlanta Braves (2) vs Miami Marlins (6)
This isn’t a postseason matchup I thought I would be predicting this year, but the Marlins just won’t give up. That being said, this might be where their Cinderella run comes to an end. The Braves are just too good to lose to them, especially in the second round of the playoffs. Atlanta’s pitching staff looks excellent and their offense won’t have to face Trevor Bauer or Luis Castillo anymore. In all fairness to Miami, their pitching has been great too, and their offense has done more than enough. My heart tells me the Marlins have another miracle left in them, but my brain and everything else in my body says the Braves are way too talented for them to keep up.