Indians vs. Red Sox
It’s been nine years since the David Ortiz-led Boston Red Sox took on the Cleveland Indians in the playoffs, and while Big Papi is still hitting dingers, a lot has changed in both dugouts. Former Boston manager Terry Francona is now riding the ship for the Tribe, and with a rising superstar in Francisco Lindor, a former Cy Young award winner in Corey Kluber and a dominant left-handed pitcher in Andrew Miller, it’s no surprise why Cleveland is still playing in October. Despite a promising future, the Indians will be without starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, meaning Francona will have to rely on the backend of his rotation to take on a potent Boston lineup composed of Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Sandy Leon and, of course, MVP candidate Mookie Betts. Boston arguably has the best offense in baseball, and with an injury-riddled rotation, Francona and the Indians will be scrambling to keep runners from crossing the plate.
Red Sox in five
Blue Jays vs. Rangers
Last year, the world had the opportunity to witness one of the greatest moments in Blue Jays history when Jose Bautista launched a moonshot into the deep Toronto night before triumphantly chucking his bat. The Rangers didn’t take too kindly to the gesture, and all the frustration of the home run culminated with a Rougned Odor punch to Bautista’s face in May. Needless to say, there’s some bad blood, which should lead to one of the most competitive series of the ALDS. The Texas Rangers have a roster filled with veterans eager for a championship such as Carlos Beltran and the lovable Adrian Beltre, as well as a potent offense featuring Odor, Elvis Andrus, Ian Desmond and Nomar Mazara. For all the offense they could conjure up, the Rangers severely struggle in the pitching department, totaling the third-worst AL team ERA. Toronto has no shortage of pop, including the likes of Bautista, reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion. Also, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff had the best team ERA in the league. The Blue Jays are hungry to bring a World Series title back to the Six for the first time since 1993, and the Rangers shouldn’t get in their way.
Blue Jays in three
— Justice delos Santos
Cubs vs. Giants
There is nothing baseball fans love more than superstition, and this series is teeming with it. The cursed Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908, will take on the ever-lucky San Francisco Giants, who have won every even-year World Series since 2010. It’s no question that the Cubs are stacked. Offensively, their lineup is teeming with All-Stars in the form of Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist and likely NL MVP Kris Bryant. Their pitching rotation is the deepest in baseball, featuring postseason veterans Jon Lester and John Lackey, along with last year’s Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. But don’t count the Giants out. Their pitching rotation is nearly as deep as the Cubs’, and Madison Bumgarner’s track record in the postseason is nothing short of incredible. If the Giants are going to win, it’s going to require timely hitting and long outings from the starters so as to avoid the help of the disastrous bullpen.
Cubs in five
Dodgers vs. Nationals
The Nationals and the Dodgers are frustrated playoff teams if there ever were some. The Dodgers have won the NL West four years in a row and have gotten as far as the NLCS only one of those times, while the Nationals have not been to an NLCS in their 11-year history as a team. With Nats veteran starter Stephen Strasburg out with an elbow injury, the Dodgers seem to have the advantage in starting pitching with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy will make his first start since Sept. 17, and could be the difference on offense after leading the team in batting average this season (.347). Look out for the Dodgers’ young offensive core though, which features potential NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, as well as Yasiel Puig.
Dodgers in four
— Adriana Ghiozzi
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