Column: MLB Playoffs series-by-series predictions

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino walks off the field after being removed during the first inning game of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the Minnesota Twins. The MLB playoffs are unpredictable, even after 162 games. AP/Willens

Even after 162 games, there is no way to predict what will happen in the MLB Playoffs. Everybody is high on the Indians because of their 22-game winning streak late in the season. Before that, the Dodgers were commonly picked as World Series winners and were on pace to set an MLB wins record.

But narratives change quickly, and a five-to-seven game series is even quicker. We’re here to break down exactly what’s going to happen in each series.

American League Wild Card Game: Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees

This column will be printed after the Yankees-Twins game ends, so I’ll save myself the embarrassment. This game is really just a fight for the right to be swept by the Indians anyway.

National League Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Zach Greinke is facing off against Jon Gray, clear advantage to the Diamondbacks here. Although Greinke struggled in his last two starts this year, he’s been stellar at home with a 13-1 record this season. D-Backs win 6-2.

AL Division Series: Twins/Yankees vs Cleveland Indians

The Indians are way better than both these teams. Terry Francona announced, strangely, that Trevor Bauer will start Game 1, not Cy Young candidate Cory Kluber. Maybe the Yankees or Twins will steal a game with their No. 2 starter against Bauer, but probably not. And they definitely aren’t going to beat Cleveland with Kluber or Carlos Carrasco in Game 2 and Game 3. The Indians will sweep in three games.

ALDS: Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros

This is going to be the closest of the Division Series. Houston’s midseason addition of Justin Verlander proved that they’re all-in on winning this season. Since being acquired by the Astros, Verlander is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. He’ll pitch Game 1 and give Houston a 1-0 lead. The Red Sox end up forcing a Game 5, but UConn alum George Springer hits a walk-off to send the Astros to the ALCS.

NLDS: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Despite owning the best record in the MLB, the Dodgers lost the season series with the Diamondbacks. Arizona took 11 of 19 games, outscoring LA by 28 runs combined. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been as dominant since coming off the disabled list, pitching to a 3.48 ERA in September. Meanwhile, probable D-Backs Game 1 starter Robbie Ray struck out 53 Dodgers batters in 31.2 innings this year. The Diamondbacks will win in four games.

NLDS: Chicago Cubs vs Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper has played just five games since Aug. 13, going 3-18 with seven strikeouts. Max Scherzer has a questionable hamstring injury and the Nationals had an extremely easy run through the NL East this season. The Cubs are obviously battle-tested from last year’s World Series run while Washington lost in the NLDS. The Cubs will win in four games relatively easily.

ALCS: Houston Astros vs Cleveland Indians

This is the high-powered matchup that all the baseball enthusiasts want to see. The Astros have been highly rated since the preseason, but so have the Indians, last year’s World Series runner-up. I think Cleveland is being very overrated at this point in the season because of their winning streak, but they are clearly a great team with a strong combination of pitching and hitting. Houston is just a little too inconsistent for me to rely on them, with a .393 winning percentage in August including being held scoreless three times. Indians win in seven games.

NLCS: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Chicago Cubs

Don’t forget that the Diamondbacks have had a slightly better record than the Cubs this year. They won’t get home-field advantage for this series, but it won’t matter. The Cubs have had a strong second half after struggling to start the season, but their pitching has still been shaky. Jon Lester has a 4.46 ERA since the All-Star Break while John Lackey might be demoted to the bullpen for the playoffs. The deadline addition of Jose Quintana helps Chicago, but Arizona will win a close series, beating out the defending champions in seven games.

World Series: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Cleveland Indians

It is David vs Goliath for the World Series. Arizona has been criminally underrated all season while the Indians have had their due shine. The Diamondbacks have one of the best rotations in baseball led by Greinke, Ray and Zack Godley, while J.D. Martinez has hit an incredible 29 home runs in 61 games since joining Arizona. Paul Goldschmidt is an MVP candidate, the bullpen has been solid, and the Diamondbacks are primed for a run this postseason. I like the D-Backs to win the World Series and knock off the Indians in another seven game heartbreaker for Cleveland.

Now hopefully Arizona doesn’t lose in the ridiculously fluky winner-take-all Wild Card Game.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.