Tampa Bay Rays vs Houston Astros:
De Block: Prior to the season, not many expected to see these teams playing in the ALCS. The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the most consistent teams over the last couple of seasons, but have been denied any postseason success. The Houston Astros endured a ton of criticism after the cheating scandal came to light, yet we find them in the Championship Series once again.
After beating the Toronto Blue Jays in two games, the Rays had to face the New York Yankees in the Divisional Round. New York had an opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead, but the decision to take out Deivi Garcia after only one inning was a decision many questioned. The Rays eventually took a 2-1 series lead, but the Yankees fought back and forced a Game 5.
In that elimination game, we got to see Gerrit Cole pitch on three days of rest, and Tyler Glasnow start on two days of rest. The game was tied at one going into the eight inning, until Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman faced Mike Brosseau. On September 1st, Chapman threw a 101 mph fastball near the head of Brosseau. The two met again on Friday night, and Brosseau was able to get the last laugh. On the tenth pitch of the at bat, the Rays hitter put a fastball over the left field fence at Petco Park, helping the Rays advance past their divisional rival.
Following a series victory over the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Round, the Astors were able to take care of the Oakland Athletics. The Houston offense walked all over the A’s pitchers, scoring 33 runs in only four games. Shortstop Carlos Correa hit .500 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in, and he wasn’t the only one in the lineup who had a great series. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker all hit .400 or better, giving the Astros lineup plenty of offensive weapons to rely on.
The Astors went into the playoffs with a record of 29-31, causing many to question how far they could actually go in the playoffs. After seeing them dominate over the last two series, it would be extremely unfair to count them out against the Rays. With that being said, I believe Tampa Bay will have enough hitting and pitching to get past Houston. The Astors are a scary team at the moment, but I think their postseason run will end here. Series Prediction: Rays in 7
Seitz: Almost no one expected the Houston Astros to be in the 2020 ALCS, but here we are. The Houston bats have come alive and propelled them to a 5-1 record entering their series against the Rays. After posting regular season career lows, multiple Astro hitters are not batting above their career averages in the Postseason. Carlos Correa is leading Houston in hitting (.455), home runs (4), RBI’s (12), and OBP(.600). Michael Brantly, Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman are also all hitting over .340 in the Postseason.
The bats are not the only thing Houston has going for them. Houston’s pitching has come out of seemingly nowhere as they have a staff ERA of 3.63 over their first seven games (that includes game one of the ALCS). Framber Valdez has been Houston’s breakout star on the mound by posting a 2.00 ERA over 18 innings as both a starter and reliever. The Astros are going to need to keep both the bats and the arms hot if they want to make it past the American League’s best team.
The Tampa Bay Rays won an instant classic fifth game against the New York Yankees to advance to the ALCS. Mike Brosseau will forever be known in Tampa as the guy who took Chapman deep and took down the mighty Yankees. Despite his heroics in game five, Brosseau has not been the main source of production for the Rays throughout the Postseason. Randy Arozarena has broken out in a big way over his first eight playoff games with Tampa Bay. Arozarena led the Rays in almost every statistical category hitting .419 with 4 home runs, 5 RBI’s and an OPS of 1.406.
In addition to Tampa Bay’s usual timely hitting, the Rays pitching has been elite up to this point. The Rays have posted a team ERA of 3.30 this Postseason and manager Kevin Cash has done a fantastic job using his bullpen correctly. Cash has proven this Postseason that he is a baseball genius by brilliantly managing both his starters and relievers, properly using a four-man outfield and not miro-managing every pitch of the game.
I think that Kevin Cash will out-manage Dusty Baker throughout this series. Couple that with a superior Tampa Bay team and the fact that Hoston is bound to cool off at some point and you have a perfect recipe for a Rays series victory. Series Precticion: Rays in 6
Seipp: If you watched ALDS Game 5 between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, one thing is extremely evident: the Rays want to win, and they want to win badly.
When the Rays and Astros faced off in the 2019 ALDS, the Rays were able to force a Game 5 with an Astros roster that was far better, this is a much different team. The Rays have only improved while the Astros have taken a step back. You don’t think the Rays want revenge for last season?
After Blake Snell had a strong first start, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow are ready to dominate this Houston Astros lineup behind him. Kevin Cash is one of the best managers in baseball. What he does the best is construct his bullpen which is so vital in this ALCS, especially when games are played each and every day.
Randy Arozarena has become unstoppable in the postseason as the Rays continue to have big contributions from Ji-Man Choi, Mike Zunino, Michael Brosseau, Manuel Margot and so many more role players who have stepped up big-time.
The Houston Astros don’t have enough pitching to compete. The Astros were able to sneak by an injury-riddled Minnesota Twins team who lacked pitching and an Oakland A’s roster who couldn’t score a run unless the ball left the ballpark.
This series won’t be close, as the Rays will win the American League for the first time since 2008. Series Prediction: Rays in five.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves:
De Block: Going into the season, many believed the NL East was going to be the most competitive division in baseball. People were skeptical if the Atlanta Braves had enough to be one of the best teams in the National League, but they proved everyone wrong and earned the two seed. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, expectations to win the World Series were put upon them as soon as they traded for superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in the winter. Both teams have yet to lose in the postseason, so it will be really interesting to see who slips up first.
For the Braves, they cruised past the Cincinnati Reds before beating the Miami Marlins in three games. With Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels being done for the season, Max Fried was forced to step in as the ace for the rotation. In Game 1 of the NLDS, he only was able to go four innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs. Luckily, the rest of the rotation was able to pick him up in the next two games.
Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright gave up zero runs in 11 ⅔ innings, giving the bullpen some much needed rest. Travis d’Arnaud was the main source of offense in that series, hitting .600 with two home runs and seven runs batted in. If he is able to continue that success against the team that released him last season, the Braves offense will be looking good going into this series.
It was much of the same for the Dodgers, and they were able to sweep the Brewers before taking down the San Diego Padres in three games. Los Angeles was able to pick up a sweep in the NLDS, but it wasn’t all easy. In Game 2, the Padres had the bases loaded with the winning run on second, but first baseman Eric Hosmer grounded out to second to end the game. The following night, the Dodgers went on to clinch the series with a convincing 12-3 victory.
Offensively, the Dodgers were able to get great production from a majority of their lineup. Of the guys who played in all three games, six of the players hit above .300, including Betts and Cody Bellinger. If they can make similar contributions in the NLCS, it is going to be really tough for the Braves pitching staff.
With both teams playing so well going into this series, it is really hard to pick who will make it back to the World Series. While I believe the Braves lineup has enough punch to keep up with the Dodgers, their depth of their starting rotation is still a concern for me. Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Dustin May should be enough to get this team through the series. Series Prediction: Dodgers in 6
Seitz: Neither the Braves, nor the Dodgers have lost a game this Postseason, so something has to give. The Braves took down the Cincinnati Reds and did not give up a run over 22 innings to start the Postseason. After sweeping the Reds, the Braves smashed the Miami Marlins’ Cinderella story by sweeping them in the NLDS. The Braves have a staff ERA of 0.92 in the playoffs and are scoring almost five runs a game. Led by two MVP hopefuls (Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna) and young star Ronald Acuna Jr, Atlanta is an extremely dangerous team.
The Dodgers are back in the NLCS once again and are still on the hunt for that elusive World Series title. Los Angeles was the best team in the National League in the regular season and for good reason. New addition Mookie Betts has had a fantastic year and added to an already potent lineup. Throw in an excellent pitching staff that includes Clayton Kershaw who is yet to choke in the 2020 Postseason and you get a complete ballclub.
I can see this series going either way and it should be an amazing seven game dogfight. It will come down to, in my opinion, who pitches better throughout the series. Although I really want to take the Braves, I am going to stick with my preseason prediction of a Dodgers vs Rays World Series. Series Prediction: Dodgers in 7
Seipp: Let me start with a personal note: I’ve had a long history of betting against the Atlanta Braves. Don’t do the same.
Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman are the most dangerous one-two punch in all of baseball. Marcell Ozuna hasn’t taken a step-back from his power surge and Travis d’Arnaud is doing his best 2015 Daniel Murphy impression (I’m sorry, Mets fans).
Max Fried has a 2.00 ERA when facing teams for the first time this season. The Dodgers will struggle against him the first time they face him, so it’s vital the Braves steal the first game in the series.
The Braves have proven doubters of their bullpen wrong. Any of their relief pitchers who have thrown more than three innings so far this postseason, including Matzek, Melancon, and Will Smith, haven’t allowed a run yet this postseason.
With the Braves young arms of Ian Anderson, who is shaping up to be a star, and Kyle Wright behind Fried, Atlanta is poised for success.
But, they aren’t playing any slouch team.
The Los Angeles Dodgers seem like they may finally have put the pieces together to win a World Series.
The back of their bullpen is shaky, as Kenley Jansen continues to struggle on the big stage, and their lineup has been a little shaky outside of Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts.
Dave Roberts continues to scare me as the Dodgers manager and the postseason haunts of Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw are almost due.
This will be a fantastic NLCS, as the two best teams in the National League will go head-to-head. Series Prediction: Braves in seven.