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2017 MLB Postseason Preview: Astros to take it all


October is finally here, which means that it is time for the most intense and competitive baseball to be played during the Major League Baseball Postseason. After what has been a long and arduous 162-game season with many twists and turns throughout, this Postseason offers baseball fans an intriguing allotment of franchises, all competing for the coveted title of “World Series Champion.” Here is a quick look into all there is to look forward to this postseason:

American League Wild Card Game – Minnesota Twins at the New York Yankees

This matchup seems to be a particularly intriguing one. The New York Yankees, the long-time class of the league, come into the Wild Card game with an overall record of 91-71, a solid second place in the AL East behind the rival Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees relatively cruised through the regular season, behind the performances of the likes of right fielder Aaron Judge and starting pitcher Luis Severino. Judge, a behemoth of a man, ultimately amassed an incredible MVP-caliber season. He finished at a .284/.422/.627 clip and compiled 52 home runs and 114 RBIs. This type of performance carried the pinstripes’ offense for the majority of the season. Severino performed similarly on the mound by anchoring the Yankees pitching staff by pitching to a 2.98 ERA, which was good for third overall in the American League. Behind these two All-Stars, the Yankees boast an elite supporting cast, made up of shortstop Didi Gregorius, catcher Gary Sanchez, second baseman Starlin Castro, and relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betcances.

On the other side, the Minnesota Twins, a team much ahead of schedule in terms of success, seemingly snuck their way into the postseason. Ultimately, it was the team’s prominent amount of youth, made up of players such as third baseman Miguel Sano, center fielder Byron Buxton, outfielder Max Kepler, infielder Jorge Polanco, outfielder Eddie Rosario and pitcher Jose Berrios, coupled with the veteran leadership of catcher and first baseman Joe Mauer, pitcher Ervin Santana and second baseman Brian Dozier, that proved to be enough to propel them to the AL Wild Card game.

Overall, I believe the class of the New York Yankees, as well as the immense affect that Yankee Stadium has on the opposition during playoff games, will be enough to send the 27-time World Series Champions to the ALDS against the surging Cleveland Indians.

AL Division Series – Twins/Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians

Ah, the Cleveland Indians. The franchise that was ever so close to a World Series title in 2016 is back once again for round two. The surging Indians played their best baseball in the second-half of the season, at one point racking off a historic 21-game winning streak. The Indians are the product of a dynamic marriage of potent offense and dominating pitching.

Three of their five starting pitchers (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer) rank in the top 20 ERA leaders in the American League, with Kluber leading all of baseball in ERA. In fact, the entirety of the Indian’s pitching staff leads all other AL teams in the major pitching categories.

Their offense is good too, running through the versatile play of third baseman José Ramirez, who has slashed .318/.374/.583 and compiled 29 home runs and 83 RBIs. The dynamic play of shortstop Francisco Lindor, both offensively and defensively, complements the power of first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and newly acquired right fielder Jay Bruce in the middle of the lineup.

If I know what I’m talking about and the Yankees advance to the AL Division Series, I believe that the Indians will be too much for the winners of the AL Wild Card and will advance to the AL Championship Series.

AL Division Series – Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

In my opinion, this matchup will be the most exciting series of the Postseason. The Boston Red Sox enter the playoffs with a potent offense led by the likes of outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, reinforced by the left side of the infield tandem of shortstop Xander Bogaerts and rookie third baseman Rafael Devers.

Despite their above average offense, the integral part of the Red Sox roster lies in their pitching rotation, headed by ace Chris Sale and fellow left-hander Drew Pomeranz. Boston’s elite starting rotation is reinforced by Craig Kimbrel, their elite closer at the back end of the bullpen.

The second part of this formidable matchup is the offensive juggernaut that is the Houston Astros. The Astros lead all of baseball in the major offensive categories, with their offense featuring modern hit-king second baseman Jose Altuve and veteran outfielder Josh Reddick, who both place in the top 10 in average in all of baseball. The Astros’ ability to make contact is supplemented by their equivalent ability to hit the long-ball, as they place second behind the New York Yankees in total home runs hit in all of baseball. The acquisition of ace pitcher Justin Verlander at the end of August, to accompany Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. at the top of the rotation, has drastically increased the Astros’ probability of winning the World Series.

It is this extremely potent offense coupled with the acquisition of Justin Verlander that will propel the Astros to be victorious over the Red Sox and advance to the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians. In addition, I share in Sports Illustrated’s prediction and similarly, I believe that the Houston Astros will go on to win the World Series over the Washington Nationals.

National League Wild Card Game – Colorado Rockies at the Arizona Diamondbacks

This Wild Card matchup ultimately plays second fiddle to the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros game in terms of intrigue. The NLWC game sees two West Coast offensive juggernauts come together to battle it out in hopes of advancing to the NLDS against familiar foe, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Arizona Diamondbacks played incredibly well throughout the entire season, most notably during the second half. This was in part due to the acquisition of NL MVP candidate outfielder J.D. Martinez, who has amassed 45 home runs and 104 RBIs and slashed .303/.376/.690. Martinez’s production ultimately came all while only playing 119 games between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks respectively. Martinez is surrounded by two other NL MVP candidates, perennial All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and slugging third baseman Jake Lamb.

The Snakes’ pitching rotation is headed by ace Zack Greinke, who is followed by an extremely formidable supporting cast made up of Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, and Patrick Corbin. In addition, Archie Bradley has been exceptional and has served as an x-factor since moving to a bullpen role.

The makeup of the Rockies’ roster is similar to that of the D-Backs, in that their success is generated solely by their offensive prowess. The Rockies’ lineup is also laden with NL MVP candidates in leadoff center fielder Charlie Blackmon and third baseman Nolan Arenado, who have both hit at least 30 home runs this season. Despite their potent offense, the Rockies lack of pitching depth will ultimately be the deciding factor in their defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

NL Division Series – Diamondbacks/Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the talk of the town for a large majority of the year. First off, the Dodgers boast the best pitcher of this era in Clayton Kershaw. Secondly, the Dodgers called up a first base and outfield prospect named Cody Bellinger in May who proceeded to take the baseball world by storm by hitting 39 home runs and driving in 97 runs, all while playing above average defense and slashing .267/.352/.581. Productive offensive seasons by other players such as shortstop Corey Seager, third baseman Justin Turner, and outfielder Yasiel Puig, as well as ultra-utility players like Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez, supplemented Bellinger’s offensive output. Left-hander Alex Wood revitalized his career by going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. The acquisition of pitcher Yu Darvish further legitimized the Dodgers’ elite rotation.

However, I believe the Diamondbacks’ highly energetic and powerful offense will overpower the Dodgers’ pitching staff. Due to this, the Diamondbacks will advance to the NLCS.

NL Division Series- Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs

The team located in the nation’s capital is tasked with squaring up against the reigning World Champion in the NLDS. The Washington Nationals are, in my opinion, the most well-rounded team competing in the Postseason.

They have a potent offense that combines contact with power. Shortstop Trea Turner, outfielder Bryce Harper, second baseman Daniel Murphy, and third baseman Anthony Rendon are all elite offensive players. The combination of their quality ability with the career offensive season of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has made for an extremely well-rounded offense.

Their All-Star laden pitching rotation is just as well-rounded, as it is comprised of three of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez.

Their opposition, the Chicago Cubs, has one of the youngest and most dynamic rosters in all of baseball. Much of the roster that made up the World Series Champion team of a year ago returns this year in an attempt to repeat their success. The Cubs’ offense is centered on their cornerstone players third baseman Kris Bryant and fist baseman Anthony Rizzo, however I believe that lesser-known players, such as second baseman Ian Happ, infielder Javier Baez, catcher Willson Contreras, and outfielder Albert Almora Jr., will be the keys to scoring runs in the Postseason.

Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta struggled during the first half of the season, but eventually resembled his dominant form from the previous two seasons during the second half. Pitchers Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks are extremely solid No. 2, 3, and 4 starters.

Despite the youthful, yet experienced roster of the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals will ultimately prove victorious and advance to the NLCS. The Nationals will continue their run of good form and defeat the Diamondbacks in the NLCS. They will then advance to eventually lose to the Houston Astros, who possess a very similar roster make-up, in the 2017 World Series.


EDIT: An unedited version of this story was previously published. The correct version of the story was posted on Oct. 3 at 10:36 p.m.

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2017 MLB Postseason Preview: Astros to take it all