It’s October, so that means that playoff baseball is here. The fight for a World Series championship will be waged throughout the month. I’m here to preview each of the contenders and the matchups of the first round of playoffs. This year we have two leagues stacked with powerhouse clubs, including three 100+ win teams from the American League, the reigning champion Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees. In the National League, there are new additions to the playoffs including the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves.
Starting in the American League, we have the Boston Red Sox (108-54) vs the New York Yankees (100-62) in a showdown of gigantic American League East rivals. Lead by young cores of players, these two teams’ rosters are built with homegrown talent. For Boston, it is lead by MVP-candidate Outfielder Mookie Betts, Outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and Shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Backing the young core are veterans like Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez, Pitcher Chris Sale, and Closing Pitcher Craig Kimbrel. For New York, it is lead by Outfielder Aaron Judge, two rookie phenoms, Second baseman Gleyber Torres and Third baseman Miguel Andújar, and their newly acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Their pitching staff is headed by Pitcher Luis Severino and their bullpen is occupied by dominate relievers Zach Britton, Dellin Betances, and closer Aroldis Chapman.
For the other matchup in the American League, it is the reigning champion Houston Astros (103-59) vs the Cleveland Indians (91-71). For Houston, they return a dominant and balanced roster that won them the World Series a year ago. Headlined by starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, these productive pitchers hope to be supported by productive hitters like Second baseman José Altuve and Third baseman Alex Bregman. For Cleveland, they hope to overcome the defending champions on their way to return to the World Series for the second time since 2016. Their club is centered around slugging Third baseman José Ramírez and complementary pieces like shortstop Francisco Lindor and veterans Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Brantley. Their pitching staff features 27-year-old Trevor Bauer and veteran Corey Kluber. To compliment their starting pitching, the Indians bullpen is spearheaded by Closer Cody Allen and dominant relievers Andrew Miller and recently acquired reliever Brad Hand.
In the National League, two teams with high aspirations in the Milwaukee Brewers (96-67) and Colorado Rockies (91-72) square off in the divisional series. Leading Milwaukee is MVP candidate Christian Yelich and complemented by slugger Jesús Aguilar and veterans Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun. Their pitching staff is led by Jhoulys Chacín and their bullpen consists of Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, and Josh Hader. For Colorado, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon lead the offensive juggernaut that is the Rockies. Starting Pitchers Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland lead the Rockies’ pitching effort, while Adam Ottavino, Bryan Shaw, and closer Wade Davis anchor the bullpen.
The final matchup in the National league feature’s last year’s World Series runner-up, the Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71) and the Atlanta Braves (90-72). The Dodgers are powered by Third baseman Justin Turner, Outfielders Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger, as well as new additions in First basemen Max Muncy and Shortstop Manny Machado. Their pitching rotation is headed by veteran Clayton Kershaw and rookie phenom Pitcher Walker Buehler. The Dodgers bullpen is led by closer Kenley Jansen and starting pitcher turned reliever Kenta Maeda. Atlanta features a strong offense consisting of First baseman Freddie Freeman, Outfielder Nick Markakis, and young stars in Second baseman Ozzie Albies and Outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Their pitching staff is headed by starting Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and their bullpen consists of reliever A.J. Minter and Closer Arodys Vizcaíno.