Post-season baseball most intriguing in years with powerhouse teams
After a great regular season that featured extreme performances from both teams and individuals, Major League Baseball’s postseason is shaping up as one of the most intriguing in years.
The sport going top-heavy with powerhouse teams over the course of 2017 means there are probably six squads with solid chances to win the title, and every series is going to be an epic showdown with national interest.
It will almost be like having seven World Series instead of one.
With the caveat that baseball’s postseason is wildly unpredictable, here are some things to keep in mind in each match-up.
AMERICAN LEAGUE Yankees at Indians
Cleveland, which last won a World Series in 1948, won 33 of its last 37 games, and have the best bullpen ERA in the majors.
With Cody Allen at closer and Andrew Miller back, plus adding a starter or two, this strength is only getting stronger.
Yankees Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman and crew will provide a formidable challenge to Francisco Lindor and the Indians, but everyone is picking Cleveland here.
Red Sox at Astros
Boston has added David Price to the bullpen with the second-best ERA in the majors, but c’mon, it’s Houston.
Astros’ newly acquired ace Justin Verlander went 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in five September starts, and Chris Devenski is a great relief weapon.
Interestingly, though, Houston had the weakest bullpen among the top contenders — 18th in the majors with a 4.29 ERA.
The Red Sox, which features a number of entertaining young stars, hit the fourth fewest home runs in all of the majors.
It should be a terrific series, with a slight edge to the Astros.
NATIONAL LEAGUE Diamondbacks at Dodgers
The enigmatic Dodgers (13-17 since Sept. 1) are looking for its first World Series appearance in 29 years, and its great ace, Clayton Kershaw, is trying to end his postseason problems, especially his haunted seventh innings.
With the Diamondbacks, keep two things in mind: Midseason acquisition J.D. Martinez tore apart NL pitching in the second half, and Arizona was 11-8 against Los Angeles this year.
Cubs at Nationals
The defending-champion Cubs finished the season with 15 wins in 19 games, but ace Jake Arrieta is out at least the first two games, and Jon Lester has been struggling.
The Nationals franchise — which started in 1969 — has never won a World Series in Washington or as the Expos in Montreal.
This might be the toughest division series to handicap, as questions linger about both of these excellent teams.
How is Max Scherzer’s hamstring? Is Bryce Harper 100%?
If Chicago’s starters can get their job done, the bullpen is strong, and closer Wade Davis is Mr. Automatic.