After a tense and exciting round of division series matchups, the 2019 MLB Championship Series have been set.
The Houston Astros took care of the upstart Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night in Game 5 of the ALDS, making them the last team to join the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals as the last four teams left standing this Major League Baseball season.
Now, it’s time to take a look at the ALCS and NLCS and decide who might win.
ALCS: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees
The Astros and Yankees were the two best teams in the regular season in the American League, and they’ll now battle for a place in the World Series in what promises to be a highly entertaining ALCS.
The Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins handily, whereas the Astros had to beat the Wild Card winning Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games to earn their spot here.
This is a fascinating series with loads of star power and talent. The Astros arguably have baseball’s best starting pitching trio with the three-headed monster of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. In addition, they have one of the best offenses in the league, headlined by MVP candidate Alex Bregman and sparkplugs Jose Altuve and George Springer.
The Yankees, on the other hand, might not have the starting pitching strength of the Astros, but they do have an offense that produced the second-highest total of home runs ever in a single season (306). Their bullpen is also strong, with relievers like Aroldis Chapman and Adam Ottavino making things easier for their relatively average starting pitching.
This will, no doubt, be a fascinating series, but I think the Astros are just a little bit more well-rounded and they also have home-field advantage.
Prediction: Houston Astros in 6
NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
If the ALCS matchup is a clash of titans, the NLCS is a matchup of two teams that few expected to be here.
The Nationals shocked the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Cardinals surprised many by taking down the Braves.
Washington, much like Houston, has a deadly pitching threesome with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. They also have a lineup with big bats like Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, but they definitely have a weakness, and it’s their mediocre bullpen.
St. Louis, on the other hand, is a team with no obvious weaknesses but no obvious big strengths. They do, however, play excellent team defense and have a lineup that has been hot recently. Both Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna had a big series against Atlanta, and this team appears to be peaking at the right time.
Despite this, I like the Nationals to win this series in close fashion. I think that they are simply the more talented team, and that they have the pitching and offensive depth to move on to the World Series.