The 2016 MLB Divisional Playoffs are almost set. In the American League its Boston vs Cleveland and the winner of Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game, Baltimore or Toronto, versus Texas. In the NL it's Los Angeles taking on Washington.
The Chicago Cubs, with the best record in baseball, awaits the winner of Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game between the New York Mets and San Francisco. Who do I like to move on from the ALDS and NLDS and get to the ALCS and the NLCS? Keep reading to find out!
AL Divisional Playoffs
Boston vs Cleveland
Analysis: The Boston Red Sox go into the postseason on a cold streak. Boston lost 5 of their last 6 regular season games. Three of the losses were to the Yankees while the other two were to Toronto. Boston won't have home field advantage in their divisional playoff series against Cleveland.
Boston starts Rick Porcello in Game 1 versus Cleveland. Porcello has a 3.31 ERA on the road. The batting average allowed is only .219. With that being written, Porcello allows the Indians to bat .290 against him. He's faced Cleveland batters 238 times.
Cleveland may not be able to take advantage of Porcello, or any of Boston's pitchers during this series. The Indians had one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Not anymore. Carlos Carrasco? He's done with a hand issue. What about Danny Salazar? Poor Danny has a forearm problem.
I just don't see Cleveland beating Boston 3 out of 5 times with Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber coming off of the DL. I'll take Porcello and Price to win the 3 out of the 5 games that Boston needs to move on.
Series Pick: Boston Red Sox
AL Wild Card Winner vs Texas
Analysis: Baltimore bats .230 against Texas ace Cole Hamels. The Toronto Blue Jays bat .270 against Hamels. If Toronto beats Baltimore on Tuesday, the Blue Jays could start J.A. Happ against Hamels and Texas later on in the week in the first game of this AL Divisional Playoff Series.
In a battle between Happ and Hamels, I have to go with Hamels. These are the moments where Cole really steps it up. The reason that I'm concentrating on Game 1 in this series is because the winner of Game 1 in a 5-game series usually takes the series. Hamels should be well-rested while Toronto has a tough game on Tuesday versus the Baltimore Orioles.
If it's the Orioles versus Texas, I really like the Rangers to get it done. The Orioles just don't have enough pitching to keep Texas batters at bay. Neither does Toronto but Toronto has the bats to make it a closer series. Either way, I betting that Texas will move on.
Series Pick: Texas Rangers
NL Divisional Playoffs
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington
Analysis: Wow. This is going to be as tight of a series as we're likely to see this October. Both of these teams have excellent starting rotations and terrific bullpens.
The Dodgers' Team ERA is 3.70. Washington's Team ERA is 3.52. The Dodgers' Team Bullpen ERA is 3.35. Washington's Team Bullpen ERA is 3.37. Who wins in a 5-game series between two of the best pitching teams in all of baseball?
I have to go with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Washington ace Max Scherzer allows Dodger batters to hit .280 against him. The Dodgers have great depth in the rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. The Nationals bat .217 versus Kershaw. They've only faced Rich Hill 25 times while the Nationals have never seen Kenta Maeda.
Series Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card vs Chicago Cubs
Analysis: The Cubs are the pick because their starting rotation is phenomenal. They also have a decent bullpen and a great closer in Aroldis Chapman. It doesn't matter who wins the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday between San Francisco and the New York Mets.
Jake Arrieta allows San Francisco to bat .198 against him. He allows the Mets to bat .257 against him. Jon Lester allows San Francisco to bat .190 against him. The Mets bat .245 versus Lester. Those are Chicago's aces. Kyle Hendricks has a 1.32 ERA in home games this season.
As a team, the Cubs' starting rotation has an ERA of 3.13. That's tops in MLB. The Cubs' bullpen has a 3.50 ERA. But, get this, the bullpen only yields a .208 batting average.
When it comes to hitting, Chicago is fantastic. Manager Joe Maddon has taught the Cubs how to manufacture runs. That's how the Cubbies won 103 games during the regular season. Chicago should bounce San Francisco or the New York Mets in this NL Divisional Playoff Series.
Series Pick: Chicago Cubs