The final games have been played and the playoff field for the 2016 MLB playoffs are set. So now that we know WHO is in, WHAT will happen? See below!
National League Wild Card: (Mets v Giants)
Madison Bumgarner gave one of – if not THE – best pitching post-season performances of all time in 2014 and will surely get the ball and a chance to do it again. He started things off then with a complete game, 10 K shutout against the Pirates and finished the postseason by pitching 5 innings of RELIEF in Game 7 to go along with a World Series CG. He pitched just over 1/3 of the innings the Giants needed in the World Series in 2014 – and he will start it off again with another gem against these beleaguered Mets. Giants win.
NLDS 1: Nationals v Dodgers
The Nationals made the playoffs with new manager Dusty Baker, and the Dodgers have shown serious heart this year battling key injuries to even Clayton Kershaw and countless others in their rotation. Now though, they are healthy. The Nationals have Cy Young Candidate Max Scherzer who has thrown two no-hitters and struck out 20 in a game since coming over from Detroit, but without Stephen Strasburg struggle after that in the rotation. Dodgers in 5.
NLDS 2: Giants v Cubs
Even year and all…the Cubs were built for the 2016 World Series since Spring Training 2015. No way they don’t make it.
NLCS: Cubs v Dodgers
The Dodgers haven’t made the World Series since 1988, the Cubs haven’t won it since 1908. Something has to give though. Between Arrieta, Lester, Lackey, and of course Kyle Hendricks (of course!) the Cubs pitching prevails with Aroldis Chapman locking things down in the 9th. Baseball can be so unfair.
AL Wild Card: Orioles v Blue Jays
At this point I have to pick the Orioles just because they have been picked apart ALL season long. Even going into the final day they seemed more likely to lose and force a Game 163 with Detroit just to get to the playoffs. But…they won and are in. These two should combine for a LOT of home runs – and I think the O’s get one or two more than the Jays to win the Wild Card.
ALDS 1: Red Sox v Indians
Terry Francona now managing the Indians takes aim at the team he led to two World Series himself in 2004 and 2007 in the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have been on a major roll the entire second half and will catapult over the Indians with their offense and the beat up Cleveland pitching staff.
ALDS 2: Rangers v Orioles
Part of me would be just fine seeing the Blue Jays beat the Orioles if for nothing else to see what else happens in the Blue Jays / Rangers, Jose Bautista / Rogned Odor feud. Between Bautista’s bat flip last year and the punch by Odor. That said I think the Rangers do hold up to their AL best record and beat whoever comes their way with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish.
ALCS: Red Sox v Rangers
David Ortiz is in his last season and has a long history of success in the playoffs. It would be the storybook ending but I don’t think it will happen. The Rangers have built a vey successful baseball team over the last decade – remember this team made it back to back in 2010 and 2011, losing both times and quietly won the AL West last year as well. They have a balanced offense, a future HALL of Fame player in Adrian Beltre and will persevere over Boston to get to the World Series.
World Series: Rangers v Cubs
Rarely does a team with the best record actually win the World Series. That changes this year as Theo Epstein completes yet ANOTHER franchise turnaround. He brought the Red Sox their first championship in 86 years, and now brings one to the Cubs after 98 years. It doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, with this team’s youth and contracts they should be favorites to get back heading into 2017.