The MLB’s penultimate playoff round is set to kick-off, with four teams in the hunt for two prized spots in the World Series.
In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros will battle for a chance to claim a pennant. On the National League side of things, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves will square off.
Both of these matchups promise to hold plenty of intrigues. Let’s preview the series and make a prediction as to who will win.
American League: Tampa Bay Rays (1) vs. Houston Astros (6)
The top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays punched their ticket to the ALCS after a thrilling Game 5 victory against the New York Yankees. Their date in the clash for the pennant will be the Houston Astros, who finished the season with a losing record at 29-31 and have gotten hot and played off of their status as the heel of the playoffs in order to find themselves playing for yet another chance to go to the World Series.
The Rays are the better team, they have a better manager, and their pitching is far superior to the Astros’. The matchup on paper says that they should take the series. Not all teams have the luxury of a starting rotation with players as good as Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton along with a lineup full of hitters which mash opposite-handed pitching.
With that being said, don’t expect the Astros to lie down. George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve have shaken off a slow regular season to hit like the old versions of themselves so far in their playoff run. While they’ve gotten a breakout performance from Framber Valdez so far in the playoffs, I just don’t think that their pitching staff is deep enough to beat the Rays.
Prediction: Rays in 6
National League: Los Angeles Dodgers (1) vs. Atlanta Braves (2)
The clash of the National League’s two titans will take place in the NLCS as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, neither of which have lost a playoff game yet, meet up with a ticket to the World Series on the line at Globe Life Park.
The Dodgers were the favorites heading into the playoffs and they remain the favorites after their electric offense bludgeoned past the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. Mookie Betts is arguably baseball’s best player, and when he’s surrounded by hitters like Cody Bellinger and Will Smith, runs are guaranteed when facing this team.
While Atlanta’s pitching staff has been the story of the playoffs so far, having thrown 4 shutouts in 5 games against the Reds and Marlins, they haven’t seen anything like this Dodgers team yet. The Braves’ offense, led by MVP favorite Freddie Freeman, breakout catcher Travis d’Arnaud, and young sensation Ronald Acuna can go head-to-head with the Dodgers’, but I think the lack of experience in their starting rotation will be their downfall.