The Yankees crushed the Twins while the Dodgers-Nationals, Braves-Cardinals, and Astros-Rays series all lasted five games. With the NLCS and ALCS already arriving, here’s a look at who some of our journalists are picking to advance to the World Series.
NLCS: Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Andersen Pickard: Nationals in 6
The Nationals have an elite starting rotation while the Cardinals have a dominant bullpen. The two teams should have their fair share of big surges in this series, but the Nationals will play better mistake-free baseball than the Cardinals, who barely advanced despite all of the Braves’ miscues in the NLDS.
B.J. Martin: Nationals in 7
The Washington Nationals have been playing like a team of destiny this post-season. Winning the Wild Card and coming back to beat the favored Dodgers gives the Nationals almost as much momentum as the Cardinals have from beating the Braves. Both teams are coming off very emotional Division Series victories but I give the edge to Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and Sanchez from Washington’s rotation in the NLCS. The line-ups are deep for both squads and these teams match-up very close. I predicted the Nationals in the World Series at the beginning of this season and I’m sticking with them now.
Emma Marion: Nationals in 7
The Nationals were able to pull off a big upset of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite being the wild card team, the Nats seem like serious contenders to make the World Series. Meanwhile, the Cardinals seemed to have a lot of struggles on their way to beating the Braves. The Nationals didn’t win their division, but they still managed to have a better record than the Cardinals. If Scherzer can have a better outing than he did in Game 5 of the NLDS, they should be in a good position.
Ryan Potts: Cardinals in 6
The Cardinals and Nationals are coming off wins in roller-coaster series. The Cardinals staved off elimination in a Game 4 at home before returning to Atlanta to raze the Braves. The Nationals trailed into the eighth inning of Game 5, but they came alive against Clayton Kershaw to plate a game-tying pair of runs before a Howie Kendrick grand slam in the tenth propelled the Nats to their first NLCS since they were the Montreal Expos. The Cardinals have home-field advantage, and they have a distinct bullpen advantage as Washington’s strategy of using their starters as bullpen arms will be less effective in the course of the NLCS. The Nationals have their fair share of hot bats and hot arms, but the Cardinals should have enough pixie dust to return to the World Series. Yadier Molina will be named series MVP.
Yehuda Schwartz: Cardinals in 5
The Cardinals are a force to be reckoned with. Their hitting has just started to heat up at the perfect time and Jack Flaherty is dynamite. Marcel Osuna is a monster now and Paul Goldshmidt is hot. Also, Yadier Molina is super clutch. If they can figure out their bullpen and defense, it should be a quick series against the Washington nationals.
ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
Andersen: Astros in 6
If you aren’t yet sold on the Astros’ one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole … you’re probably a Yankees fan desperately trying to figure out how you’ll win this series. The Yankees’ offense had some big firepower against the Twins, but the Astros are a flawless team. They have a perfect starting rotation, a perfect bullpen, and a perfect roster of position players. The Astros will be back in the World Series.
B.J.: Astros in 7
The Houston Astros should have a chip on their shoulder after the pesky Tampa Bay Rays put up a great fight in their five-game ALDS showdown. The three-headed monster of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke will need to pitch their best baseball against a powerful Yankees lineup. While very effective in their sweep of Minnesota in ALDS, the Yankees’ pitching staff will meet their match against the Astros’ great lineup and bench depth. These two lineups feature some really great hitters, so it will be exciting to see these pitching staffs fight through deep lineups.
Emma: Yankees in 7
The Yankees have been unstoppable this postseason. After sweeping the Twins they should be able to keep their momentum rolling. If their bullpen can hold up, their offensive power can keep them winning. After some spotty starts from the Astros starting rotation, they have proved that despite all the star power, this team has flaws. In a close series, the Yankees should be able to pull out a win.
Ryan: Astros in 7
In this battle of AL giants, the Astros possess one of history’s strongest rotations while the Yankees have a lineup that hit the second-most home runs in the history of the sport. By virtue of pure offense, this series should light October on fire with buckets of runs. I anticipate that one of Houston’s starters (Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, or Justin Verlander) has one memorable start to seal a critical win to keep the Astros from falling to the Bronx Bombers. A rematch of the 2017 ALCS would likely go to seven games. Gerrit Cole will be named series MVP.
Yehuda: Astros in 7
The Astros got the win in Game 5 of the ALDS to secure another ALCS berth. The talent on their team is unmatched by any team in the entire league. From Justin Verlander to Gerrit Cole on the pitching side and Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and others on the hitting side, they have so much depth and talent at virtually every position on the 25-man roster. It should be an easy task to beat the Yankees in the ALCS.