As the MLB postseason kicks off, there are a number of storylines following the eight remaining teams. The Phillies are this year’s Cinderella team. The Guardians are looking to upset a Yankees team that has recovered from their mid-season slump. The Braves are hoping to repeat as World Series champions. Among all these narratives, only one team will emerge victorious. The Sports Section discusses:
Associate Sports Editor
I know it’s a little gutsy to take a No. 6 seed in their first year of existence, but that’s exactly what I’ll do with how good the Phillies have been as of late. So far (as of Wednesday afternoon), they’re 3-0 and show no signs of slowing down. Although Nick Castellanos hit a rough patch in the Wild Card round, he shined in Game 1 of the NLDS, with three hits and as many RBIs. Although the Braves are talented, they’re not markedly better than the Cardinals, who the Phillies swept without any Castellanos hits. Bryce Harper has also been absolutely raking, with a .500 average and a homer so far this postseason. Often in baseball, making it past the Wild Card round can be a blessing, as the team has more momentum going into the divisional round. With this being the case for the Phillies and baseball being such a momentum-reliant sport, I’ll take them to bring home the hardware for the first time in over a decade.
As much as it’s easy to say that the Dodgers or Astros are going to win the World Series, it’s always fun to support the underdogs. Being a Mets fan and watching their heartbreaking loss against the Padres, I am going to have to shy away from a National League World Series pick and side with Seattle. The last time the Mariners made the playoffs was 2001, and this year they broke the playoff drought. Beating the odds, the Mariners made their way into the postseason bracket and already got past the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card series. For starters, Julio Rodriguez has evolved into a stud for Seattle and has been a power hitter all season. The Mariners also have strong pieces in Ty France, J.P. Crawford, Cal Raleigh and Jarred Kelenic. Pitching is what wins games, and starters Robbie Ray, George Kirby and the addition of Luis Castillo at this year’s trade deadline brought Seattle to another level. Now in the postseason, the Mariners showed they can play at the same pace as the best teams in the league based on what happened in Game 1 of the ALDS in Houston. Their offense flourished against veteran Justin Verlander, and it showed what they are capable of. Although they dropped the first game to the Astros, the Mariners still have what it takes to make it to the World Series.
New York Yankees
Even with a fairly depleted bullpen, the Yankees showed in their Game 1 performance against the Cleveland Guardians that they have guys who can step up on offense and deliver. Whether that’s the newly acquired Harrison Bader or Anthony Rizzo, offense is so important for a team that’s going to need everyone to perform against tough pitching staffs like the Houston Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Baseball fans know guys like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are going to deliver on offense, but it’s the lesser known names on this team like Oswaldo Cabrera that could be big in the playoffs. Gerrit Cole showed that he is the ace of this pitching staff, and they’ve got plenty of players to accompany him, like Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino. The key to this team is pitching, especially in the bullpen where they’re missing pitchers like Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman and more. But if this team can get everything to click, they certainly have the potential to win the franchise’s 28th ring.
I could have picked the Yankees for this roundtable, but I am not going to steal Evan’s thunder like that. Instead, I am going to pick the team I predicted to win it all last year to run it back (if they do, I am writing another Coleumn about them, mark my words). This team is much better than last season’s, and not just because they came back from a 10.5-game division deficit —sorry Mets fans. There are rare instances where a team calls up two of their top prospects and they instantly thrive. That has been the case with Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II, the frontrunners for National League Rookie of the Year. Put them together with the big stars that won the World Series last year, from Ronald Acuna Jr. to Max Fried to Austin Riley, and Atlanta is as much of a juggernaut as the Los Angeles Dodgers. With most of their young core under contract at least until 2026, the Braves are going to run baseball for the next half-decade.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have the best chance to win the World Series for a simple reason: Weaker competition. The Dodgers are almost guaranteed to at least make the World Series. The American League competition is much stiffer, as the Astros or Yankees will most likely be one of the two teams to represent it. There is not a team good enough to beat the Dodgers in the National League, as they have it all: Starting pitching, a bullpen and a ridiculous lineup. Meanwhile, there are still questions about all American League teams that might not be answered. In the playoffs, pitching is king, mostly bullpen and depth, and I question the Yankees’ bullpen. If you asked me this in June, when Clay Holmes gave up an astonishing three runs up to that point and a healthy Michael King shutting hitters down, I would have picked the Yankees. But injuries have derailed them, as DJ LeMahieu is not on the ALDS roster for New York, and oh yeah, Michael King and Chad Green are out for the season. The Guardians, down 1-0 against the Yankees and having to face Nestor Cortes, will soon find themselves in an insurmountable 0-2 deficit against the best-hitting team in the MLB. But their bullpen will be suspect against the Astros, who have been the Achilles’ heel to the Yankees making it to the big dance these last few seasons. But as good as Houston is, they certainly have questionable hitters in the team, and the talented Los Angeles will carve them out. The Phillies don’t have the talent to beat the Braves, Dodgers, and the best American League team. The Mariners won’t beat the Astros, and the Braves won’t beat the Dodgers. If this Dodgers team keeps up their MLB-best 111-51 pace and gets everything to go the right way, they have the potential to be the last team standing.