After 197 days and 162 games Major League Baseball has finally reached its version of The Final Four with the LA Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros rising to the top of the MLB Playoffs. For some it might seem like most of that time was wasted as three of the four clubs were favorites to reach the World Series at the start of the season, Milwaukee being the outlier. But for the true baseball fan this season’s finale has something for everyone and it should be one of the most competitive in recent years. We’ll take a look at the Final Four as it stands and update all the way through the World Series so keep checking back.
NLCS – Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Well, if you were taking a Wonderlic exam and were given the names of the clubs then asked “what team doesn’t fit?” you would circle the Brewers. All of the others have World Series rings and
have been among the best in their division over the last three years. Their opponent the LA Dodgers have won the NL West for the last six. But these aren’t your daddy’s Brewers. They are hosting game 1 for a reason; they have the best record in the National League. So don’t be fooled, they are no Cinderella, they have been one of the most consistent teams all season and their bullpen is the best in the NL. On the other side you have the Dodgers. Big name, big city, big players with bigger salaries. Last year Sports Illustrated ran a cover the questioned if they were the best team EVER. But they cooled off come at the end of the year and watched a 20-game division lead get cut in half by the end of the season. They ended up losing game 7 of the World Series to Houston. This year they appear to be peaking at the right time and missing from last year’s club may be names like Seager, Culberson, and Darvish but have been replaced by names like Muchado, Muncy, Freeze, and Beuhler. With power at all positions 1-8 this will be a series of strength vs. strength, Brewers pitching vs. Dodger hitting. Normally I would expect good pitching to stop good hitting but in a seven-game series I think the phone in the bullpen will ring a little too often for the Brewers during this series and the Dodger bats will wear them down. Our pick, Dodgers in 6
ALCS – Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
In the ALCS you’ve got the two clubs that frankly everyone thought would be here, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros. The Red Sox had the best overall record in MLB wining a franchise record 108 games while the Astros are not only the defending World Series champions but also won 103 games. Many believe the winner of this series will eventually be the world champs. So how do you decipher who is going to come out on top, it may be too close to call so we’re going to try and split hairs and come up with a winner. Whenever I can’t pick a winner I look to a great reference source, Vegas. Sin City has the Astros as -135 to win the ALCS a number that most certainly reflects the chances of David Price winning game 2 as the starting pitcher for Boston. Despite his 217million dollar contract, his career in the playoffs as a starter has particularly been a disaster, 0-9 in 10 starts with a 6.03 ERA, and yes, his team did lose that 10th start, Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS with the Blue Jays. Houston also had a better run differential, outscoring the opposition by 263 runs while the Red Sox ran up a 229-run margin. As explosive as Boston’s lineup is, it’s a lot more top-heavy than the balanced Houston attack. The Red Sox bullpen has more question marks than the Astros’ relief corps does. In the end The Red Sox proved many of their doubters wrong when they rolled over the Yankees in the ALDS, but Houston is a much different animal. The Astros’ lineup has few holes and should be able to get to the Red Sox’s bullpen in a way the Yankees couldn’t. Couple that with seeing Verlander and Cole four times in a seven-game series, and it’s hard to see Boston sending the defending champs packing. Our pick, Astros win a deciding game 7, breaking the hearts of the Fenway faithful.