MLB Playoffs – League Championship Series Predictions
ALCS: Yankees vs Astros
These are without a doubt the two best teams in baseball. At the center of attention will be two electric offenses. Both teams can hit the ball out of the ballpark in bunches, but they also each have nine guys who work tough at-bats. In the bullpen, the Yankees have a clear advantage, especially after an up and down performance from Astros closer Roberto Osuna in the ALDS. The edge overall, however, goes to the Astros because of their amazing rotation. Even though Gerritt Cole and Justin Verlander were pushed hard in the ALDS, the presence of Zach Greinke still allows the Astros to throw a top-level pitcher at the Yankees in at least six out of the seven games in the series. The Yankees rotation is hot as well, as their top three starters allowed a combined four runs in the three games against the Twins. The Astros lineup is a whole different animal, however, especially with home-field advantage. Unless the Yankees can steal a game or two against the Astros bullpen, Houston’s rotation and lineup are just too deep to lose this series.
Prediction: Astros in six
NLCS: Nationals vs Cardinals
In mid-May, the Cardinals were viewed as the third-best team in their division and the Nationals were fifteen games under 500. Now they are playing each other for a chance to go to the World Series. Both teams are riding high after Game 5 NLDS road wins; the Cardinals coming off a blowout victory in Atlanta and the Nationals entering after a thrilling comeback win in Los Angeles. Both teams have terrific rotations, but neither has a great bullpen. The Nationals bullpen has been scrutinized all year for their inability to bridge the gap to closer Sean Doolittle, while the Cardinals closer, Carlos Martinez, allowed six runs in the division series. The Nationals have shown a willingness to use their elite starters in the bullpen, so while they still don’t have much relief help besides Doolittle, the ability to bring Max Scherzer and Stephen Stephen Strasburg in high-leverage spots could make the difference in this series. Another thing going against the Cardinals is that their ace, Jack Flaherty, will likely be unavailable to pitch until Game 3 after throwing six innings in the deciding game in Atlanta, and there are questions about how 38-year-old Adam Wainwright will respond after throwing 120 pitches in the division series. The Cardinals need the ability to rely on their pitching because their lineup lacks the firepower to outslug the Nationals in this series. With the exception of the 13 run outburst in Game 5, it was basically Marcell Osuna or bust for the Cardinal’s offense in the NLDS. Unless Osuna is able to carry the St. Louis’ offense again in this series, they’ll have a lot of trouble scoring runs against the National’s elite pitching staff.
Prediction: Nationals in six
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