Mandatory MLB Playoff Predictions

The dust has settled and baseball’s playoffs are about to begin.  Here’s a quick look at the match ups in both the American and National League and a best guess at which teams come out on top.

National League

nl

Wild Card Round:

mets     vs.     giants

The Mets’ 87 victories matched their Pythagorean record.  They have been decimated by injuries throughout the season losing many starting pitchers and a number of offensive threats as well.  Luckily, anyone who takes the mound for the Mets finds success.  The team barely scored more runs than their opponents (+54 run differential) and against Madison Bumgarner in the wild card match up, runs will likely be hard to come by.

The 87 win Giants were their own worst enemy as they continued to find ways to blow saves in spectacular fashion.  They underperformed their Pythagorean record by three games and their offense proved to be sorely lacking in both power and speed.  Signing Cueto was a huge win and although Samardzija has been up and down throughout the year he’s proven more effective than any of the team’s other starters.  Although the Giants are not lighting the world on fire as they enter the postseason, they have won it all in each of the past three even years (2010, 2012, and 2014).  I have to side with fate on this one: The Giants have Bumgarner on the hill and magic on their side.  Pick: Giants.

 

National League Division Series:

dodgers vs. nats

The Dodgers won 91 games, out pacing their Pythagorean Win – Loss record by one.  They took a big risk by signing pitchers with injury histories and avoided matching Greinke’s absurd offer from the Diamondbacks.  Although this strategy looked like it might have backfired early in the year, Maeda panned out, Rich Hill recovered from his blister issues and kept his magic arm/motion intact after coming over at the trade deadline, and Kershaw is healthy again.  Additionally, Puig, after an embarrassing demotion, appears to have found himself again and looks like he can stabilize the outfield situation.

The Nationals finished with 95 victories in a relatively weak NL East.  Their 95 win total was two below their Pythagorean Win – Loss projection.  Unlike the Dodgers who are getting healthy, the Nationals have been decimated by injury at exactly the wrong time.  Ramos will be sorely missed behind the plate (and at the plate), Strasburg’s injury weakens the top part of the team’s rotation, and Harper appears to be playing hurt (with no improvement in sight).  Luckily for the team, Scherzer has maintained his Cy Young level performance and Tanner Roark has been extremely effective as a starter.  Upgrading from Papelbon to Melancon has also been a positive and will continue to pay dividends should the Nats wind up with a lead late in the 8th or going into the 9th.  The addition of Daniel Murphy has allowed the team to weather some offensive issues elsewhere.  It’s going to be tough for the Nats to match up against the well-rounded Dodgers.  Pick: Dodgers in 4  – {Congratulations to Jacob M. of the Effectively Wild Facebook group for finding the ‘Easter Egg I hid here.  Nice job}.

 

American League

al

Wild Card Round:

orioles

vs.

jays

The Orioles are the quintessential all power and no speed team.  They outplayed their Pythagorean record of 84-78 to win 89 games and grab a wild card birth.  The team seems set on offense but their starting pitching is a big question mark.  After Gausman, the rotation does not have a lot to brag about.  However, the bullpen is a great strength so if they can hold a lead through 5 innings, the pen is more than capable of nailing down a victory.  That’s a big if though as the Orioles pitchers have given up the second most runs of all playoff teams and will be facing a potent Toronto lineup in the dome.

Toronto also earned 89 victories (falling 2 short of their Pythagorean record projection) to earn the other AL wild card.  The Blue Jays, like Baltimore, are a team that relies on power bats (6 players in their line-up have 20+ homers on the year).  Unlike the Orioles, their starting pitching has been solid.  Although Stroman did not live up to the hype that was surrounding him in 2016, Happ, Sanchez, and Estrada outperformed their expectations.  Additionally, the Jay’s bullpen has been upgraded throughout the year and is now a strength rather than a question mark.  Baltimore is going to have to score early and often to put the pressure on the Jays in the dome.  I don’t see it.  Pick: Blue Jays.

 

American League Division Series:

red-sox

vs.

cleveland

Cleveland has been decimated by injuries, especially to their starting pitchers.  This does not bode well for them having to take on the potent Red Sox line up (878 runs scored this season).  Furthermore, Baseball Reference’s Simple Rating System indicates that the Red Sox are the class of the American League and nobody is a close second.  The Red Sox Pythagorean Win – Loss record of 98-64 was also seven wins better than the Tribe’s (91-70).  If the Red Sox pitching staff shows up, I don’t see the Tribe making it out of the Division round.  Pick: Red Sox in 5.

 

* The Cubs series and the Rangers series will be profiled after the Wild Card winners are determined.

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