And just like that, it’s time for the MLB Playoffs! Wild Card matchups will begin today (Tuesday) and the Division Series start on Thursday. The National League locked down all their spots early on while the American League took a little longer to finalize which teams would make the cut, but everything solidified this weekend. Did your team make the postseason? Let’s take a look at the MLB Playoff Picture and what’s likely to go down this week…
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The National League
We knew a few things for sure about the National League side of the playoffs early on. The Dodgers were definitely going to the postseason, and the NL Central was gonna be close. Things finally settled down last week when the Braves snagged the NL East and the Cubs got knocked out of the race, leaving it to the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals to battle it out for the division’s top spot and the Wild Card. The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time in two years but they’ll be going for their first postseason win since they were the Montreal Expos in 1981. Meanwhile, the Dodgers probably have the MVP of the season in Cody Bellinger, and they’ve managed to smash NL records for home runs already this year.
The Atlanta Braves have exceeded expectations this season, but they’ll need to get healthy for the playoffs – specifically Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuña – if they hope to surprise us again. And as for Milwaukee, we weren’t even sure the Brewers were going to be here after Christian Yelich was injured, but their late-season hot streak proves they’re a formidable opponent, particularly if they can get healthy again.
The NL Wild Card game on Tuesday, October 1st will feature the Brewers playing the Nationals in DC in this one-game elimination round. The winner will go on to play the Dodgers in Los Angeles on October 3rd to begin the NLDS best-of-five-game series. Meanwhile, the Cardinals will take on the Braves in Atlanta on Friday, October 4th. If you need tickets to any of these games, we’ve got them here on Razorgator!
The American League
The Yankees, Astros, and Twins all sealed their division titles relatively early on, but it was the Wild Cards that took a while to sort themselves out in the American League. The ‘Stros and the Yanks kept fighting for the top seed and home-field advantage up until the bitter end, with Houston edging out the competition with an impressive 107 wins. This is the third season in a row they’ve managed to surpass 100 wins, not to mention they’ve got one of the best rotations in baseball history. Of course, the Yankees racked up over 300 homers themselves, and that’s without Aaron Judge in play for a large chunk of the season.
The Twins aren’t quite as favored to make it to the World Series as the other top dogs in the AL, but they’re still having the best season in franchise history. With over 300 homers, they keep surprising fans, so hey, they could do it again in October right? As for the Wild Cards, the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays really kept it interesting. It was neck and neck between the A’s, Rays, and Cleveland Indians up until this weekend for those final two spots. Earlier this season, the Rays managed to overtake the heavily favored Boston Red Sox (who looked to be unstoppable at the end of last season) and never let up. The A’s had perhaps the least hype going into this season, but they’ve got the potential to be dangerous in the playoffs.
The AL Wild Card game on Wednesday, October 2nd will feature the Rays at the A’s in Oakland to find out who makes it one step farther in the playoffs. The winner has the unenviable job of heading to Houston to play the Astros in Houston in Game 1 of the ALDS on October 4th. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins will take on the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday, October 4th as well.
Predictions? World Series Odds?
The Astros, Yankees, and Dodgers have been World Series favorites for months and that certainly hasn’t changed. Houston is clearly dominating the oddsmakers’ minds right now while the Braves have dropped in the ranks (likely due to injuries). Here are the odds via ESPN as of September 30th:
|Los Angeles Dodgers||26%|
|New York Yankees||11%|
|St. Louis Cardinals||5%|
|Tampa Bay Rays||2%|
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