The MLB playoffs are here at last. The 162-game regular season ended just last week and the New York Yankees have already locked up their spot in the ALDS after coming back from an earlier 3-0 deficit against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wildcard game. With October baseball in full swing, the DC Sports staff debates which team is their favorite to win it all in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Jorge Eckardt: Campus Correspondent
The Houston Astros will win the World Series, no doubt about it. They have a great pitching staff, led by newly acquired Justin Verlander, who has been outstanding since he arrived in Houston, pitching to a 1.06 ERA, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. They also have a star studded lineup, which includes the only player that deserves the AL MVP: José Altuve and former UConn star George Springer.
They face an easy task in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, who lack a strong pitching staff behind Chris Sale. They will face the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, who I expect will cool off after a sweep of the Yankees. Then, I believe that Astros are better than any team that they will play from the National League, whether it is the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Chicago Cubs, who are my two frontrunners. This young team will finally win their first World Series, one I believe will be the first of many.
Dylan Barrett: Campus Correspondent
The 2017 New York Yankees will complete the narrative of their improbable season, and become World Series Champions. They have one of the deepest starting rotations and the most stacked bullpen of any team in the postseason. Their bullpen proved how they can carry them in the AL Wild Card game, where they accounted for 26 out of 27 outs. An array of Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman is nearly unbeatable. In October, the teams that can get the key, tough outs in the late innings are the ones that charge through each round. Success in the modern game relies on dominant bullpens. Then, you have the Bombers’ lineup, which is absolutely terrifying, as it features the true AL MVP Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, and many more. There’s not a single break from one to nine of the order, forcing opposing pitchers to grind through each inning.
But none of that is why the Yankees will capture their 28th title. This team is just different than winning Yankee teams of the past. Their comradery gives them a flare that lures eyeballs to their world. The passion and energy they play with is something that Yankee fans are not familiar with. Even when the club rolled to their 2009 championship, Yankee Stadium never embodied the atmosphere that it did on Tuesday night during the AL Wild Card Game. Fans are addicted to this team, as every player on the 25 man roster appears hungry. The thumbs down phenomenon, “Toe-night” show, and apparent brotherhood off the field are some of the things that show the loose, yet supportive environment that will allow the Yankees to succeed as the playoffs develop. Many teams would have panicked after their starter recorded only one out in a winner take all contest, but the Yankees remained calm and persevered. The confidence and fire that they play with will lead them all of the way.
Matt Barresi: Staff Writer
I’ll go with my hometown Boston Red Sox. They have a young yet experienced lineup that hopefully will be more adverse to the fatigue of a long season. They also have, in my opinion, the best pitcher in the American League. Chris Sale has been sensational this season, with a 2.90 ERA and 308 strikeouts. He has shown the ability to go deep into games, which is imperative in the postseason. Closer Craig Kimbrel has also been lethal this season. Since July Drew Pomeranz has been pitching at an elite level and going into deeper games. While their batting numbers aren’t phenomenal, they have a lineup 1-9 that at different times has gone on a roll. They all have the potential to catch form and the Red Sox lineup is a sleeping giant in my opinion. I don’t think other teams can say that. I think that giant is going to awaken this postseason and the Sox are going to surprise. The talent is all there and if anything can get it functioning at a high level, it’s postseason baseball.
Andrew Morrison: Staff Writer
As much as I’d love to go with the Yankees, I’ll stick with my bet all season long: the Houston Astros. You simply can’t get them out. Jose Altuve will probably win MVP (deservedly, but I’d still vote for Judge), Carlos Correa is a machine, and George Springer has turned into an elite leadoff guy. Their offense is not just good enough to challenge a team’s ace—they can light up any pitcher in the majors, a huge advantage when you look at some of the dominant pitchers on other postseason teams. Dallas Keuchel has returned to star form, and Verlander has been a pleasant surprise (although I wonder if he can sustain it). If Houston has a weakness it is certainly their beatable bullpen, but the hope is that the offense can produce enough runs to survive any late-game collapse. I’d put money that the World Series champ will come out of the AL no matter who that team is, and I wouldn’t bet against the Astros.
Kevin Arnold: Campus Correspondent
Part of me wants to argue that a NL team will win it all, but I can’t when the Astros are as good as they are. Their lineup is flat out dangerous with UConn’s own George Springer coming into his own this season, the AL batting champion (and possible MVP) in Jose Altuve and arguably the best young shortstop in all of baseball with Carlos Correa. When you combine a lineup like that, with a starting rotation that includes former CY Young winners in Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, you have a team that’s set up for success. Although the bullpen is their weak spot, long and strong outings from their starters are going to be key to keeping them in games in tandem with a lineup that can make pitchers look like they belong in AA ball. As long as this young team keeps their cool and stays focused, I don’t see another team stopping them.
Rachel Schaefer: Staff Writer
THE INDIANS! This is a team that took the Cubs to extras in game seven last year, and they’re still really, really good. Corey Kluber is having an absolutely ridiculous season, and he’s scheduled to start game two and game five of the ALDS. Also, Trevor Bauer just lost one of his drones in a park so he’s 50% less likely to start bleeding on the mound, which is reassuring to all of us.
Their bats have been electric too, especially thanks to the impressive season Jose Ramirez is having. This is now the longest drought without a World Series title of any team. It’s time. This team has been consistent. Terry Francona knows what he’s doing, and I’m extremely excited to watch this team hoist the trophy.
Tyler Keating and Chris Hanna
Yanks. (Thumbs down emoji).