After a wild 2017 that saw the Houston Astros take home the Commissioner’s Trophy, 2018 should be quite the treat that features a wide open World Series race. Today, I will attempt to predict how the 2018 Postseason will look for Major League Baseball.
1. Houston Astros
I know, I know–picking the reigning World Series champions to be the number one seed the following season is seriously mainstream. However, the Astros have everything they need to make it happen. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are both predicted to have plus-five WAR, and the rest of the offense should produce in the top five in baseball. The Astros have twelve pitchers predicted to have better than a 3.85 FIP, including all five starting pitchers. Look for Houston to make a serious repeat run.
2. New York Yankees
Yes, the Yankees are the trendy pick for the American League East. Despite that, I truly believe the Yankees are built for a division title and potential World Series run. Yankees hitting will surely be terrifying for opposing pitching staffs, regardless of Twitter’s predictions that Stanton and Judge will strikeout their way out of the Postseason. Stanton is projected to 6.5 WAR and Judge a 4.8. Strikeouts, while detrimental, will likely not be enough to derail New York’s season. On the pitching side is where the Yankees impress me the most. Ten pitchers are predicted to fall below a 3.8 WAR, with Sonny Gray checking in at a 3.85. This will be a tough pitching staff for the rest of the AL East.
3. Cleveland Indians
Pitching will be key for Cleveland in 2018, but depending on how the offense shakes out the Indians could see improvement in the offensive game. Francisco Lindor could put up MVP numbers this year, and if he does that, Cleveland could make a deep run into the playoffs.
4. Boston Red Sox
Per usual, the Red Sox will have an explosive offense in 2018. I expect to see Boston make the Postseason in the Wild Card, but their pitching will determine just how far they go. Price and Sale leave the starting rotation top heavy, but the bullpen should be solid. The biggest question will be how Drew Pomeranz will perform. The starter had a decent 3.84 FIP in 2017.
5. Los Angeles Angels
For this last Wild Card slot, I struggled between choosing the Angels and the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are an intriguing pick, but I cannot say that I have much confidence in their starting rotation. Then again, much of this Angels pick rides on the assumption that Ohtani is going to have a good season. The additions of Zack Cozart and Justin Upton should be fine compliments to Mike Trout at the plate.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Again, I know, the easy pick. However with both the American and National Leagues, the division winners should be fairly straightforward this year. The Dodgers should be one of the most consistent hitting teams in baseball. Furthermore, I believe that Los Angeles will have the best starting rotation in the Majors; the biggest question will be the bullpen.
2. Chicago Cubs
The National League Central will be much more competitive this season that the last two. Still, last year was a down year for the Cubs that should see an upwards tick in 2018. Both the starting rotation and bullpen will be filled with low ERA, low FIP arms. Chicago could use some help in the field come the trade deadline, however I would expect the front office to get the job done.
3. Washington Nationals
The Nationals‘ offense will likely be much more consistent than their pitching, but Max Scherzer will be a dominant force up front. I think that Daniel Murphy could have another big season and breakout well above his predicted numbers.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Plenty of writers have the Milwaukee Brewers having an above average season, and potentially making a Wild Card run. I think the Brewers could give the Cubs a run for their money, and end up taking the top Wild Card slot. The addition of Yelich adds a major boost to the offense, and Milwaukee has quite the underrated pitching staff.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Again, I struggled with this second Wild Card slot for a while, however not between teams that most might think. The National League West very well may be the best division in baseball, but I kept having the inclination to put St. Louis in this final Postseason position. However, I just do not see enough there in the field for the Cardinals to outlast Arizona. The Diamondbacks will likely have a great year, but perhaps will finish a tad below expectations.
American League Wild Card
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Unfortunately for the Angels, I think the Red Sox would be too powerful in a one game series. Whether it be David Price or Chris Sale on the mound, that pitching combined with a lethal offense will be too much to handle.
National League Wild Card
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Just like in the other Wild Card showdown, I think the lower seed will prevail. The Diamondbacks have an ace in Zack Greinke that I am not sure the Brewers would be able to overcome.
American League Division Series
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
While I think the Astros very well could be the best team in baseball, Boston has all of the makings of a Postseason run. A young team with some studs on offense, combined with an incredibly solid pitching staff will make for a five game ALDS. I think the Red Sox get this one away from home.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
A rematch of last year’s ALDS, the Yankees and Indians would put on quite the show for America once again. This year, I do not see the Yankees having to come back from 2-0, and I think they take the Indians out in four games.
National League Division Series
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
An NL West showdown in the NLDS would for sure be a fun one. However, I do not see the Diamondbacks having what it takes to complete the upset. Dodgers in four.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
The Cubs are an excellent team that absolutely have what it takes to make a Postseason run, but they just cannot compete on the starting rotation level with the Nationals. I see Washington making the trip to the NLCS.
American League Championships Series
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Oh man, this would be one for the ages. While the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball by far, the Red Sox are up their with the Dodgers in competition for the best starting rotation. Again, if the Sox can get some action going with Price, Sale and Pomeranz, they could dominate from the mound. I see the Red Sox winning this in seven.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals
As I have mentioned multiple times, the Dodgers will absolutely be one of the best teams in baseball. The Nationals have an excellent team as well, but provided LA can make some moves to improve their bullpen, the Dodgers will be too much to handle. I see the Dodgers winning in five games.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Boston Red Sox
It can hardly get more classic than this: the Dodgers and the Red Sox. Loaded with ace pitchers and explosive hitters, I think these two teams have the best chances at winning the World Series in 2018. To me, Boston is a team built for runs instead of sustained season domination. This makes them the perfect Postseason team. On the other hand, the Dodgers are just great all around. This will be a close series that I see going to seven games, but I see the Dodgers avenging last season and getting their World Series rings.