Division Series Round Preview

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ALDS: Yankees Vs. Twins

This American League division series matchup features two 100 win ballclubs. In fact, the Minnesota Twins will be the lower seed in this divisional round despite racking up 101 victories in the regular season. The Yankees won 103 games in 2019, despite many of their top stars hitting the IL at some point. New York now features a pitching staff with a healthy Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton. Minnesota’s rotation is not quite as strong, but they do have a lineup which smashed the most homeruns by a team ever. In fact, the Twins had five different players with 30+ dingers on the 2019 season.

The Yankees took the season series with Minnesota (4-2), but the two sides haven’t squared off since late July. Not surprisingly, they were mostly in a contest to outslug each other. New York scored 43 runs in the six contests, while Minnesota scored 38 runs of their own. The Twins connected on longballs all season long, but they were also the best road team in baseball at (55-26). Though, the Yankees were equally as good at home with a record of (54-27) One of these trends will have to have to break when the Yankees tackle the Twins in this ALDS showdown.

Prediction: Severino, Tanaka, and Paxton won’t shutdown this powerful Twins lineup. Though, they’ll do enough to slow Minnesota down and the Yankees wont have much trouble scoring off Minnesota’s arms. I’ll take Yankees (3-1).

ALDS: Astros vs. Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays belted 4 homeruns on Wednesday night, and advanced to play in the division series. Despite the longballs, Tampa is actually the lowest scoring team in this year’s postseason. That may prove problematic against Houston’s three-headed monster of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. Though, the Rays may have the most underrated starting staff in this year’s playoffs. Their rotation is anchored by veteran Charlie Morton, former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow. Houston’s bats won’t be easy to quiet. Their lineup features sluggers such as George Springer, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and several others. Although, runs in this series could definitely be at a premium.

In the regular season series, it was the Tampa Bay Rays who ended on top. The team from St. Petersburg bested the Astros (4-3), despite winning 11 less regular season games. However, this stat may be somewhat misleading as three of those four wins for Tampa came in the March season opener. Houston is red hot, and added frontline starter Zack Greinke at this year’s trade deadline day. Though, I wouldn’t overlook a Tampa team that could have won 100 games if not for having the Yankees in their division.

Prediction: Rightfully so, the Houston Astros will be the biggest favorite in this year’s divisional round. Tampa will certainly have their hands full, but a team that had 10 walk-off wins this season won’t go down without a fight. That being said, it’s hard to pick against this Houston ballclub right now. This ALDS battle will be closer than projected, but I predict Astros (3-2).

NLDS: Braves vs. Cardinals

Believe it or not the St. Louis Cardinals have one of the longest postseason droughts this October. The redbirds have not played in a playoff series since 2015. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves won the NL East for the second consecutive year by tallying 97 wins in the regular season. They have a youthful lineup which features Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman and a resurgent Josh Donaldson. On paper, St. Louis doesn’t have as potent of a lineup as Atlanta does. However, they may have the best starting pitcher on either side. 23-year-old Jack Flaherty pitched to a 2.75 ERA this season along with a 0.97 WHIP. The Cardinals will send journeyman starter Miles Mikolas to the bump in game 1, but Flaherty will no doubt play a factor.

St Louis and Atlanta haven’t met post All Star break. For what it’s worth, the Braves took the season series (4-2). For me, this series comes down to reliable pitching. Neither staff is elite, but who will step up? St Louis was also very mediocre away from Busch Stadium. Their (41-40) road record is the worst among remaining playoff teams, and easily the worst amongst division winners. That will be something to keep an eye on in this division series.

Prediction: The Atlanta lineup will be difficult to tame for a St. Louis club lacking a postseason experienced “ace”. Their young stud Jack Flaherty won’t be enough to win the series by himself, and the redbirds have struggled away from St. Louis. I’ll go with Braves (3-1).

NLDS: Dodgers vs. Nationals

Juan Soto to the rescue! Washington’s World Series hopes were kept alive on Tuesday thanks to an 8th inning go-ahead single by outfielder Juan Soto. The Nationals squeaked past the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. Washington is scorching hot, now on a nine game win streak. Opposite of them are the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers. Aside from Houston, these two teams may have the strongest starting rotations in the entire playoffs. Though, Washington was forced to use Max Scherzer in the Wild Card game. That means he likely won’t be available for the opening match of the division series when the Nationals travel to Dodger Stadium.

The regular season was a close contest between the two sides. The Dodgers won the season series (4-3) over Washington. This series will be a matchup of two very opposite paths to reach this point. LA dominated their opponents all season long, en route to winning the NL West by 21 games. Washington on the other hand, started the season with a record of (18-30) through mid-May. They scratched and clawed their way to a postseason berth, only punching their postseason ticket about a week ago.

Prediction: There’s going to be at least one upset in this opening round. At least I think there will be. Though Washington has been labeled “chokers” in the past, the same can be said for LA. These two pitching staffs should be a heck of a matchup, but I really like the way this energized Nationals team is playing. I’ll go out on a limb and say Nationals (3-2).

Who do you think will come out on top in each of the division series? Which higher seed should be on upset alert? Discuss that and more on our forums! For more content, check out the rest of Overtime Heroics. Be sure to continue the conversation on Twitter and follow me here!

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