MLB expert Zach Short discusses what he thinks will happen in the 2019 Major League Baseball playoff, including his pick for the World Series champs.
Wild Card Games
AL: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics
Winner: I’m going to take the Rays in this one. I will admit, with all the hype over having a team win each American League division with over one hundred wins, I haven’t paid as much attention to these two as I probably should have.
I would say that a wrong pick for me here would strike me with the least amount of surprise out of all my picks, as this game is pretty well a toss-up, but I do believe the Rays have a better chance.
The two teams have similarly impressive records, but this was a year of extremes—the Tigers were over fifty games out of first in the AL Central. That in mind, the Rays built a record in a division shared with the Yankees and a pretty good Red Sox lineup. The A’s, conversely, beat out three teams that just don’t impress me for second in the division. Rays, in my mind, had a tougher schedule and therefore are the better team.
NL: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals
Winner: This one was a tough one, but I’m going to go with the Brewers. Both teams had their own personal reasons for needing to win this—the Brewers lost a close battle for division champs against the Cardinals and the Nationals are trying to prove just how great they are without Bryce Harper.
However, the Nationals are in the postseason and the Phillies are not, that vengeance seems to have been exacted. The Brewers, conversely, feel the sting of a fresh wound with a division that wasn’t decided until the very last day of the regular season.
I wouldn’t mark it outside of the realm of possibility that they show up in the Championship Series hoping for the Cardinals to meet them for a head-to-head showdown. The Brewers just have something to prove.
ALDS 1: (Possibly) Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
Winner: Only a fool would pick a wild card winner over the Astros. Justin Verlander had a W-L of 21-6 and Gerrit Cole had 19-6.
The duo will absolutely humiliate any batter the Rays can persuade into actually stepping up to the plate. They will make for two quick wins to start the series, a promise that I believe in more than any other prediction I have.
Assuming the Astros stick with postseason tradition and utilize a four-man pitching rotation, then whatever pitcher the Astros use first, probably Verlander, would be back for a Game 5 scenario. If the Rays steal away not one, but two games from the Astros in Tampa Bay (a very unlikely scenario), then the Astros will win the last game by 10 runs. But honestly, even though I’ve talked a lot about the pitching, the Astros are good batters too.
They’ll probably take Game 3 no matter who is on the mound.
ALDS 2: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
Winner: I love this Twins team and I want to see them win so badly, but I just can’t see them beating the Yankees. In the two series the teams played against one another in the regular season, one in New York and one in Minneapolis, the Twins lost two of three both times.
The trend? The Twins have no answer for the Yankees batting.
They scored a combined 43 runs in six games against the Twins, which puts them averaging over seven runs per game in the matchup. I don’t see any scenario where a team holding up that kind of offensive prowess doesn’t win. Maybe the Twins can come back next year.
NLDS 1: (Possibly) Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers
Winner: The Dodgers are an absolute force to be reckoned with and, despite how much I don’t want to do so, I’m going to pick them over the Brewers. Although I will personally be cheering to see that aforementioned head-to-head matchup between the Cardinals and the Brewers in the Championship Series, I cannot in good faith say that I believe that it will happen.
The Dodgers are just too good, and the Brewers playing at their best still just can’t compete.
In all honesty, I’m not sure it would matter who the Dodgers played here or how good they were.
This team is absolutely starved for a World Series victory and I think the chances of them blowing it again are pretty slim this year.
However, I do think the Brewers will give them a run for their money and just may tire them out for another team to beat them in the next round…
NLDS 2: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
Winner: This year has been a difficult one for picking an upset; in three of the four division series I had my hands tied. I couldn’t very well pick a Wild Card to beat a hundred-win team and neither outcome of Twins at Yankees can be called an upset, but I think this pick can.
The Braves finished six games ahead of the Cardinals, and I think they are going to blow it.
The Cardinals are energized after barely winning their division and, unlike the Brewers, don’t have to try to use that energy to beat a terrifying Dodgers lineup. Do I think they’ll sweep? No. I expect five games out of the matchup, but it is in the Cardinals nature to have just enough to stay alive and I expect to see them face a battered Dodgers squad in the Championship Series.
Early World Series Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees, Dodgers win
I am a stern believer in the power of this Dodgers team. Although I still do believe that both the Brewers and the Cardinals will give them a run for their money, I do earnestly think that the Dodgers will prevail. With season after season of great records and hopeful predictions, this team will not lose another World Series if they can just get there.
The Yankees are a great team and I don’t want to tarnish the impressive season that they have had nor the impressive playoff run that I expect from them, but this year is not their year.