Sports Manager Flynn Shares His MLB Postseason Predictions
After 2,430 games, over 6,000 home runs, nearly 40,000 strikeouts, and over 22,000 runs scored, 10 teams out of 30, continued to October baseball, the time that many dream to be a part of. Three teams won over 100 games, one team that lost 100 games last year made the playoffs this year, and one team begins a postseason title defense for the first time in over a century.
American League Division Series:
Boston Red Sox (93-69) vs. Houston Astros (101-61)
The Red Sox barely took the A.L. East crown as they fended off a late push from the New York Yankees. Their offense, although very good, did not quite live up to its potential, but Chris Sale had a spectacular year pitching, leading the majors in innings pitched and strikeouts.
The Astros have arguably the deepest lineup in baseball, leading the majors in runs scored and team batting average. Jose Altuve won the league’s batting title for the third time in four years this year, hitting .346. They also have tremendous front-line pitching, led by former league MVP Justin Verlander, whom they acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the August trade deadline.
Prediction: Astros in 4
Minnesota Twins/New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians (102-60)
Both the Twins and Yankees entered the wild card matchup on Tuesday playing their best baseball of the season. The Twins lost 103 games last year, and, led by manager Paul Molitor, have won 85 games and the second wild card spot. The Yankees offense is led by Aaron Judge, who took baseball by storm with a rookie record 52 home runs. A young Luis Severino and an aging CC Sabathia anchor a Yankees pitching staff that overcame early troubles to pitch the Bronx Bombers into the postseason with a 91-win season.
The Indians were a run away from ending their World Series frustration last year, but they got better through the offseason and the trading deadlines. They also rode a 22-game winning streak to gaining homefield advantage through the American League playoffs and the AL Central crown. Their pitching was the best in the league, led by co-aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.
Prediction: Indians in 5
American League Championship Series:
If the Astros and Indians indeed go to the ALCS, it will be the first postseason matchup of two 100-win teams since the 1977 ALCS between the Yankees and Royals. Both teams are stacked with talent, but again, the Indians pitch themselves into the World Series with baseball’s deepest pitching staff. It should be a terrific series.
Prediction: Indians in 7
National League Division Series:
Washington Nationals (97-65) vs. Chicago Cubs (92-70)
The Nationals came into the season with World Series expectations. They have a loaded pitching staff, led by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and a lineup of disciplined hitters like Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper. The Nationals soundly won the NL East and have used the last month of the season to tune up for postseason action, where they have failed in recent years.
The Cubs are coming off a magical season that washed 108 years of exasperation in winning the World Series. The Cubs have the best record in the National League since the All-Star break, getting major contributions from infielders Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. The NL Central winners need to get starting pitching contributions from their established veteran pitching staff to win in October.
Prediction: Cubs in 5
Colorado Rockies/Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58)
Nobody expected the league’s two Wild Card teams to come from the league’s West division and not feature the Dodgers or Giants. That is what happened with the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Arizona won 93 games in the regular year and rode a surprisingly good pitching staff, which was woeful last year, to the postseason. Meanwhile, the Rockies got MVP-caliber seasons from Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, as both hit over .300 and drove in more than 100 runs.
The Dodgers were viewed as a team of destiny until they hit a slump in September that included an 11-game losing streak, but they picked up the slack winning eight of their last 10 games to reassure confidence in a championship-or-bust team. The NL West champions have fielded many good teams over the last 25 years, but have not won a World Series, or even won a pennant, since 1988.
Prediction: Dodgers in 5
National League Championship Series
Last year’s NLCS featured the Cubs and Dodgers, and I expect it to be the same matchup this year. Both teams looked evenly matched in last year’s playoff meeting. The Cubs are a bit weaker this year in pitching, and the Dodgers’ lineup is a bit stronger.
Prediction: Dodgers in 6
Both the Dodgers and Indians are looking to end years of frustration. With the new rules, the Dodgers would get home field advantage because they had the better regular season record. But the Indians have been hungry for nearly seven decades. The Indians pitching is better equipped than anyone else in baseball to compete deep into October. The Indians end the longest current World Series drought with a championship in 2017.
Prediction: Indians in 6