Post-sea­son base­ball most in­trigu­ing in years with pow­er­house teams

24 Hours Vancouver - - SPORTS - TORBEN ROLFSEN

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.

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