With huge powerhouses in the American League with the Astros, Yankees and Twins along with the powerful front runner in the National League with the Dodgers, there's some exciting baseball to look forward to in October. The wild card teams, the Nationals, Cardinals, Indians and Rays, look to overthrow these powerhouses with a surprise showing and make a statement. There is still a whole month plus of baseball left, however, so don't get comfortable just yet! Without further ado, here is the current playoff picture based on MLB standings and FanGraph's predictions along with my predictions.
NL Wild Card: Nationals over Cardinals
The Nationals have yet to win a postseason series (or wild card for that matter), but I expect them to pull through against an always above-average Cardinals team. They will still have to fight through that Cardinals postseason magic that has seemed to follow them over the last couple of decades.
NL Divisional Series 1: Dodgers over Nationals in 4
Again, I still think that the Nationals will continue their run of never winning a postseason series, not because they have a bad team, but because the Dodgers are so unbelievably good this year that thinking they will lose with the home-field advantage is crazy.
NL Divisional Series 2: Braves over Cubs in 5
The Braves have been a dominant team versus Chicago this year, going 5-2 against them, and 2-2 in Chicago once the Cubs got going. With the way Ozzie Albies owns the Cubs at Wrigley and the Braves having the home-field advantage, I can not see the Cubs taking this series, although they will put up a good fight.
NL Championship Series: Dodgers over Braves in 6
The Braves are the second best team in the National League and will hopefully make the NLCS, but even they are not nearly as good as the Dodgers. The Dodgers are just so good at home and the Braves play poorly in LA, which makes for a lopsided battle. But the Braves just took two out of three games against LA in Atlanta for the first time in six years and with a damaged squad too, so there is life yet for the Braves.
In the hunt: Mets, Phillies, Brewers, Giants, Diamondbacks
AL Wild Card: Indians over Rays
The Indians just have more postseason experience and a better suited team to playoff baseball than the Rays, who I think are on the border of being a serious contender for years to come. The Rays have been playing great ball and using strategies such as the "opener," but I think their run ends here.
AL Divisional Series 1: Yankees over Indians in 3
I really believe the Indians will just get steamrolled by a World Series-hungry Yankees looking to make a deep run. They have all the tools laid out in place and I think DJ LeMahieu will be a major factor. But with the Yankees poor starting pitching as of late, we may have to wait and see.
AL Divisional Series 2: Astros over Twins in 4
AL Championship Series: Astros over Yankees in 7
Now this is the potential matchup I am most excited for. A passionate team versus a historically dominant franchise? I think this will be a well-contested battle up until the very last pitch in game seven. I think the Yankees have a legitimate shot with where their offense is right now, but I think how their pitching performs against the Astros pitching is going to be the deciding factor in this series. With the Astros adding Greinke at the deadline and some good bullpen arms, I put them ahead of the Yankees.
In the hunt: Athletics
The A's are just one game back right now of the AL Wild Card, so they have a legitimate chance to knock out the Rays in the race. Other than them, there probably will not be any changes in the postseason picture.
World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Houston Astros in 7 games
Barring some sort of crazy chain of events, I expect to see a repeat of the 2017 World Series again. The true powerhouses will meet head to head once again in a battle for the ages. There's going to be lots of power on both sides and passionate crowds in both stadiums. But who really knows if both teams will even meet in the Fall Classic? I guess we'll have to wait and see.