Previewing the First Round of the Rowdy MLB Playoffs

After a drama filled last Sunday of regular season ball, the playoff picture is finally set. A glimpse ahead at the pivotal matchups around the league is due. We are set for a wild ride this next month and a half, so let’s take an in-depth look.

WILD CARD

NEW YORK YANKEES VS. BOSTON RED SOX

The rivalry is back. After a recent three game sweep at Fenway last weekend, the Yankees are riding high heading into Boston on Tuesday night once again. With a win over the Rays and Nationals respectively on Sunday, the Yanks and Sox clinched their bid for the postseason. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Yankees are favored (-120) over the Red Sox (+102) despite being the away team. Gerrit Cole will be on the hill for the Yanks and he without a doubt has something to do with the odds. As the Sox will be sending ace Nathan Eovaldi out who has been Boston’s best starter from March to October.

The last time these teams met in the postseason was 2018 when the Sox won in 4. But both squads have changed immensely. Coming into the season the Sox had very low expectations and many around the league didn’t think they had a chance at the playoffs. On the other hand, The Yankees were the complete opposite. With sky-high expectations at possibly returning to the Word Series for the first time since 2009, there are different vibes in each dugout. One with nothing to lose and the other with everything to lose.

It will be interesting to see which one prevails and moves onto the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. I am expecting a Boston win in front of a home crowd with nothing to lose.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS. LOS ANGELES DODGERS

After finishing the season 23-9 since September 1st including a 17-game win streak, the scorching hot Cardinals are heading to LA to face the Dodgers. The Dodgers finished with the second-best record in the MLB, 106-56. One game behind division rival San Francisco Giants. The Dodger’s after finishing with a better record than every team besides one, could be eliminated after one game. This would be the worst possible outcome for a team whose payroll is $63.8 million more than the next closest team, according to Spotrac.

The Dodgers are favored (-225) over the Cardinals (+188), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Longtime Cardinal Adam Wainwright will man the mound for the Cards. As the Dodgers will send out 3x Cy Young Award winner and future HOFer Max Scherzer. Scherzer hasn’t pitched in the playoffs since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series as a member of the Nationals. The Dodgers can make a case to have the most talented roster in the league and I expect them to make some noise in this game. I feel the talent of the Dodgers will overpower Wainwright who isn’t the guy he once was despite reinventing himself as a pitcher.

The Dodgers will travel to San Fran to take on the Giants in the NLDS.

DIVISION SERIES

CHICAGO WHITE SOX VS. HOUSTON ASTROS

Jose Abreu and White Sox will travel to Houston to take on Carlos Correa and the Astros. The ‘stros with all of the playoff experience are facing a young but talented White Sox team with not much at all. I believe this may be the most even match up of the first round with both teams playing solidly all year. According to FanGraphs, both teams have a 15.1% chance of winning the World Series, which speaks to the evenness of this series.

The pitching matchup’s have not been announced yet, but I expect Zack Greinke vs. either Lance Lynn of Lucas Giolito. I would lean Lynn since he has the more postseason experience and has been more effective this season. The Astros are favored to win the series (-124) over the White Sox (+106), according to FanDuel.

I am expecting a White Sox win in this series. I feel the pitching depth of the Sox will be enough to get them through to the next round.

ATLANTA BRAVES VS. MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Milwaukee may have been the surprise team of the 2021 season if it wasn’t for the Giants. But a pleasant surprise for a fanbase that has been lacking success in the postseason for several years now. Early season acquisition Willy Adames, has been the spark plug for this club, batting .285 AVG with 20 Home Runs. The Brewers also have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Corbin Burnes has been electric for the Brew Crew and have 3x All-Star Josh Hader in the back of the ‘pen.

Despite the injury to star Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves have stormed back after a rough start to the season. The Braves took over the NL East and never looked back. Freddie Freeman was phenomenal once again as he is making a case to be a possible HOFer. They will send veteran Charlie Morton out as the Brewers have yet to announce a starter.

The odds are in the Brewers favor, but I expect this to be a very close series with some drama. Consensus says pick Brewers, but I am going to zig and say Braves win this series.

BYES

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

The Giants have exceeded limited expectations having the best record in the MLB and a first-round bye. They will face the winner of the Cardinals vs. Dodgers. They are hoping to face the Cardinals but either way they are in a good spot. The Giants are looking for a long run in this year’s postseason as the NL will run through San Francisco.

I expect them to get the job done against the Dodgers in the NLDS and advance to the Championship Series.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Tampa Bay is coming off a series win over the Yankees despite a 1-0 loss on Sunday. They are also primed for a deep run but is there winning ways sustainable? They have possibly the smartest front office and the best farm system in all of baseball. There reign is short from over and will be solid for the next 10 years.

A division series against the Red Sox is something that may diminish the first 100-win season in franchise history. But I say the Rays are moving on.

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