Major League Baseball’s postseason continues with a vigor this week. With the best-of-five divisional series in both leagues potentially carrying on through mid-week and the championship series beginning toward week’s end, the busy playoff schedule is a true baseball fan’s dream.
Trying to predict which teams survive and move on to the next round of the playoffs is no simple task. During this year’s NBA postseason, we all waited for Golden State and Cleveland to dispose of their pesky conference contenders and face each other in the championship for a third straight season. Even in the NFL, the New England Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, as expected, and once again held up the Vince Lombardi trophy.
That seldom happens in baseball these days, where there hasn’t been a dominant team since the New York Yankees of the late 1900’s and early 2000’s. Anything can happen in the postseason, and perhaps more-so in baseball than other professional sports.
Still, many eyes are on the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers, who are expected to represent th
e American and National Leagues respectively in the World Series. And why not? The Dodgers, of course, won 90 games by the end of August and had added veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson and starting pitcher Yu Darvish to an already potent roster. Then September came and with it, an 11-game losing streak. But this team is still poised for a playoff run and should look like a different team in October.
Cleveland, of course, went on that 22 game winning streak in September that cemented their postseason ticket. After coming up short in the World Series last year manager Terry Francona and the front office made some moves to bolster their lineup. In the off-season they signed free agent designated hitter Edwin Encarnación away from the Toronto Blue Jays, and then grabbed slugger and strong-armed outfielder Jay Bruce from the Mets off waivers in late August. Both moves have paid dividends.
Getting to the World Series is certainly not a guarantee for the Dodgers or Indians. In the American League, the Houston Astros have been quietly going about their business after running away with the AL West and enduring Hurricane Harvey. The Boston Red Sox have a pitching staff that is built for the post season and a lineup of savvy veterans and young stars ready to pounce. In New York, Aaron Judge’s bat has come alive again and the Yankees have a nasty bullpen that can shut down the hot bats of opponents.
The National League is also fair game, where the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are waiting for their chances to ruin the Dodgers postseason aspirations. It’s going to be a heck of a week in baseball.