After just 60 games of regular-season action in the shortened 2020 season, the expanded playoff bracket has been set and October baseball is just around the corner!
16 teams will take part in the three-game Wild Card Round of the playoffs, which has the potential to lead to tons of exciting action and maybe even a few upsets. Let’s predict each series!
#1 Tampa Bay Rays vs. #8 Toronto Blue Jays
The top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays will do battle with the division rival Toronto Blue Jays in what should be an interesting series. While the Blue Jays are on the upswing and promise to be playoff threats for years to come with plenty of young talent, I expect the more experienced Rays to come out on top.
Prediction: Rays in 2
#4 Cleveland Indians vs. #5 New York Yankees
Few expected the Indians and Yankees to meet up in the first round of the playoffs after both teams were on the fringe playoff picture for much of the season, but these two AL rivals will do battle in a matchup of baseball’s best pitching staff against one of its best offenses. The old adage says that pitching wins championships, and I think Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and company will be enough to sneak past the Bronx Bombers.
Prediction: Indians in 3
#3 Minnesota Twins vs. #6 Houston Astros
The Astros might have made the World Series last season, but without ace pitchers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole along with a floundering offense, they’re a shell of what they were last year. The Twins, on the other hand, have a dynamic offense bolstered by Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton alongside new addition Josh Donaldson. They should take care of the ‘Stros.
Prediction: Twins in 3
#2 Oakland Athletics vs. #7 Chicago White Sox
The A’s got a tough draw despite facing the #7 seed, going up against one of baseball’s most exciting young teams in the White Sox. While they look like World Series contenders just a month ago, the Sox have fallen off in past weeks as their rotation’s warts have come to surface and its offense hasn’t looked quite as deadly. The A’s might not be flashy, but they’re the #2 seed for a reason and I think they’ll squeak out a tight win.
Prediction: Athletics in 3
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. #8 Milwaukee Brewers
The Dodgers are the team to beat heading into the 2020 Postseason, and for good reason. Corey Seager and Mookie Betts were MVP candidates after putting together huge offensive seasons for baseball’s best offense, and Clayton Kershaw put together a resurgent season alongside Walker Buehler. With no offense to Milwaukee, this shouldn’t be much of a contest.
Prediction: Dodgers in 2
#4 San Diego Padres vs. #5 St. Louis Cardinals
The Padres finished with the league’s second-best record but were forced into the playoffs as a #4 seed thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While they didn’t look quite as good in the final two weeks of the season thanks largely to a cold streak by Fernando Tatis Jr., it’s hard to see the Cardinals getting past them despite their veteran savvy.
Prediction: Padres in 3
#3 Chicago Cubs vs. #6 Miami Marlins
The Marlins are finally back in the postseason 17 years after their last appearance, but few might believe that they could get past the NL Central winning Cubs and their fearsome collection of talent, including NL Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish. Miami was a great story this season, but they simply don’t have the talent to keep up with Chicago.
Prediction: Cubs in 2
#2 Atlanta Braves vs. #7 Cincinnati Reds
While the Braves might be the #2 seed in the playoffs, they have a truly difficult matchup ahead of them against the Reds. The Braves had one of baseball’s best offenses this season, but Cincinnati’s formidable 1-2 punch of Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo has the potential to shut them down. Add Atlanta’s rotation troubles to the mix, and I think this series has the makings of an upset.