This is a tough call, but I think the Indians might be fresher. They’ve pretty much been able to coast most of the season with a comfortable lead in their division. The Astros had to maintain a lead on the Mariners and A’s for the majority of the season and didn’t clinch until late September. Both teams have unbelievable talent, the only edge the Indians have is that rest. But it could definitely go either way.
Indians in 5
Red Sox vs. Yankees
It’s hard to know what to take from that last Red Sox/Yankees season series, the Yankees clobbered the Sox, but the Sox had clinched and didn’t have anything to play for. The Yankees are at a disadvantage having just played the Wild Card game, but on the other hand, it’s hard to know what pitchers will be in playoff condition for the Red Sox. Can Price and Porcello give the team solid playoff starts? Is Chris Sale healthy? I feel more confident in the Yankees.
The Astros have definitely been the better team throughout the season; but, if the Yankees were able to beat the Indians and their unbelievable pitching staff while Aaron Judge bats .050, I think the Yankees will have an easy time with the Astros. Regardless, it will be awesome to see two AL MVP candidates in Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge in this series.
Logic would say the Indians are coming in hot and will annihilate the Yankees, but if Aaron Judge is “back” then these teams might be a little more evenly matched. I’m going to give in to Yankees exceptionalism (and their bullpen) and think they might just pull this off, mostly just to make it interesting.
Yankees in 4
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have an unbelievable starting pitching staff. Neither team has been totally consistent this year. But, I hate the Red Sox and I predicted the Astros to go to the World Series, so I’m going with Houston.
Astros in 5
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dodgers season totally reminds me of 2014 A’s (except that melted down way earlier and barely limped into a Wild Card Game). I think the Dodgers ran out of juice and the Diamondbacks can totally win 3 out of 5.
Diamondbacks in 4
Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are fine and the Nationals are dealing with some lingering injuries. But, it’s the Nats’ year, really!
I can’t point to any legitimate solid reasoning to say the Cubs can’t beat the Indians except that they got shut down in games 2 and 3 of the NLCS. If the Cubs don’t score early, Andrew Miller can shut them down late in the game. Mostly, I’m just doubling down on my belief that the Cubs won’t win because they won over 100 games (and they’re the Cubs).
I was way off about the Indians in the Division Series, thinking their injuries would make them beatable to the Boston Red Sox, but instead they swept the Red Sox. It’s possible that injuries catch up to the Indians this time, especially with a longer series. But, I think they showed they can win with the roster they have. I expect the Blue Jays to put up a fight, the teams were close in the regular season matchups, the Indians won 4 of the 7 games. I would not be surprised if either team won, but would be surprised if this was another sweep for either team. For the hell of it, I’ll predict this to go the same as the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
This is by far the most interesting matchup of the first (real) round of the MLB playoffs. The Rangers had the Blue Jays backed into a corner with a 2-0 lead in the ALDS last year, only for the Blue Jays to win 3 in a row to take the series. Since then, there’s been a lot of talk about José Bautista‘s batflip, and later, the punch to the face he received from Rougned Odor. As far as actual baseball goes, these teams seem pretty evenly matched. The Rangers ended up with 95 wins this year, and the Blue Jays ended up with 89, but keep in mind, the Jays were in a division with the Orioles, Yankees, and Red Sox, all of which had a chance to make it to the post-season (only the Red Sox made it to the ALDS, the Orioles lost to the Jays in the Wild Card game). The Blue Jays won the regular season matchup 4-3. I think the Blue Jays win this series again.
Prediction: Blue Jays in 5
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
I would love to see the Indians win this series, but I do not have much faith. The Indians have lost two of their great starting pitchers, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar and their ace, Corey Kluber, is likely to start in Game 2, but has recently been dealing with a quad strain. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been getting incredible results from soon-to-retire David Ortiz, usually injured Hanley Ramirez, and breakout star, Mookie Betts. One thing the Indians can hope for is a pitching meltdown from David Price, who is usually a fantastic pitcher, but is prone to post-season meltdowns, with a 0-8 record in post-season starts (his teams are 4-10 in his post-season appearances).
Prediction: Red Sox in 4
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants
Even if we throw superstition, curses, and “even-year magic” out, it seems the Giants have a pretty good chance of winning this series. Matching the 103-win Cubs against the 87-win Giants might be setting the series up for a Cubs sweep. But, historically, 100+ win MLB teams have had post-season struggles. Not to mention, the Giants have the ultimate series insurance policy in the playoff superhuman, Madison Bumgarner. I don’t believe in the even year thing, and I don’t really believe in curses (look at the Cleveland Cavaliers), but I don’t think the Cubs have a chance.
Prediction: Giants in 4
Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers haven’t won a playoff series since 2009, the Nationals haven’t won one as the Nationals yet (since 2005). Both teams have new managers, Dusty Baker as the Nationals, manager, and Dave Roberts as the Dodgers’ manager. Both teams have incredible starting pitching staffs, but no one on either staff has a great post-season record. In the case of Dodgers’ ace, Clayton Kershaw, that may be mostly that he gets left in too long because the Dodgers’ bullpen hasn’t been great in the past. But, the combination of Dodgers’ improved 2016 bullpen, and Bryce Harper‘s recent injuries, seem to spell a victory for the Dodgers in this round. Though, I would not be surprised if the Nationals (who have home-field advantage this series) end up with the win either.