Welcome to October Baseball!
Appropriately, today is the first day of the month and the kickoff of the MLB playoffs. Whether it is October baseball, college football conference play, or the NFL, there is meaningful sports every night for the next month and then some. Not even to mention the start of NBA and NHL season.
This is one of the year’s best stretches for me as a sports fan and I’m amped.
Strangely for a sport dominated by so few teams, we have not seen a back-to-back winner of the World Series since 2001. And with the Red Sox disappointing season, that streak continues.
It is tough to predict October baseball. Weather gets colder, teams get super creative with their pitching staffs, and momentum can carry or drop a team in an instant.
Below is my selection for the Postseason Bracket Challenge on the MLB At Bat app. And because I am a betting man, my selections are super boring, mainly picking chalk.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…picking the Astros and Dodgers isn’t exactly daring. But as I said, I am a betting man and I want to win 12 dollars on my 10 dollar bet. These two teams were the best going into the year BEFORE Bellinger’s absurd season, Ryu’s surprise performance, the emergence of Yordan Alvarez, and Houston trading for Greinke.
The Astros are a wrecking ball when looking at their bats or pitching staffs individually. When looking at them together on the same team, it’s downright horrifying. To a slightly smaller magnitude, the Dodgers are a powerhouse and I see them both meeting in the Fall Classic in a rematch of the 2017 World Series. Astros win in 7.
2017-19 Dodgers: meet the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills.
While my betting predictions are fairly boring, I will try to spice some things up for the rest of the post and be a little risque with some (kind of) bold predictions…
The Astros Get A Scare in the ALDS
“Michael, what are you talking about? You were just drooling about them and now you are bolding picking them to struggle in the ALDS against the A’s. You are so inconsistent and can’t be trusted.”
Yeah – that’s fair, but do you know who the best team in baseball is since June 17? With a record of 59-29, that team is the Oakland A’s. These guys also beat the Astros in seven of their last eleven games. Gerrit Cole gets way too hyped and falters like he did in the 2015 Wild Card. The A’s steal an early game of the series and get a 2-1 lead in the Best-of-5 series before the Astros recover and win the last two games and the series.
The Nats Almost Scare the Dodgers, But Their Bullpen Wets The Bed
The Nationals win their first playoff series (sort of?) in 95 years by taking down the Brew Crew. Then against the Dodgers, we see the Nationals three-headed monster of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin keep the team in all the games. But unfortunately, the Nats bullpen does Nats bullpen things and they lose the series to the Dodgers in four games.
Twins and Yankees Break Record
Fun fact: In the Twins’ last 18 playoff games, they have played the Yankees in 15 of them. Not as fun fact: They are 2-13 against the Bronx Bombers.
I do think this trend will continue with the Yankees advancing, but not after the two teams break a MLB postseason record for most home runs hit in a best-of-five series. The Twins lead the MLB (and broke the all-time record) with 307 home runs in the season. The Yankees were right behind them with 306. Both teams absolutely destroyed the previous season record of 267 (by the 2018 Yankees).
Yes – this will make the series exciting, but every game will be so long. No pitcher will put forth a quality start and there will more pitching changes and commercial breaks to count. 4.5 hour games here we come.
As the expression goes, is the juice(d ball) worth the squeeze? We will find out.
The Braves Dominate the Cardinals
Having clinched the division two weeks ago, the Braves are well rested while the Cardinals didn’t really want to win the division until Game 162. Atlanta’s young and old bats shine while the Braves sweep the Cards in the NLDS easily.
The Braves put up a great fight against LA in the NLCS as some of the game’s great young talent is on display, but run out of firepower losing in six games. Acuna’s superb playoff performance moves him firmly into the discussion of one of the league’s best player.
While they drop to the Dodgers, the Braves bolster their claim as a legit World Series contender for years to come. They are real.
Young Talent Aplenty in the World Series
Yordan Alvarez (22), Will Smith (24), Gavin Lux (21), Dustin May (22). These guys aren’t just young, but I think they will make significant contributions for their team’s on the biggest stage.
These guys make Walker Buehler (25) seem too old to be in this conversation, but I predict he will continue to enhance his resume by shutting down the Astros lineup in Game 6 to force a decisive seventh game.
Verlander and Cole Pull a Johnson/Schilling
The Astros 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation have already made waves throughout the history books with their absurd 2019 campaigns. And that continues as they share the World Series MVP honors like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did back in the 2001 Fall Classic.
Regardless of the accuracy of these predictions, we are in for some exciting baseball these next few weeks.
And it all beats watching the Pirates. So soak it in baseball fans.