Never has there been a greater disparity between the haves and the have-nots in baseball than in the 2019 season, and while "you can't script October", as the commercial once said, we'll try our best with these BOLD predictions.
8. The Rays will sneak by in the Wild Card
Honestly, this one's so evenly matched, the only way to make a prediction at all is to be bold. Both projected starting pitchers - Tampa's Charlie Morton and Oakland's Sean Manaea - are red-hot and coming in on longer-than-usual rest. Kevin Cash's team is a creative bunch, however, and could use their full bag of bullpen strategies in Tampa's first playoff game since 2013. The game may be in Oakland, but the Rays are among baseball's best on the road, with a 48-32 record away from the sweaty Tropicana Field.
7. The nation's capital will see something it hasn't seen in 95 years.
No, not political upheaval - a playoff victory...of sorts. Granted, it's one game, but it counts. Quietly, the Nationals been one of baseball's hottest teams, and are currently rolling a seven-game win streak. They'll host the Wild Card Game against Milwaukee, and given their results over the past week, there's no reason to believe either team will be much of a threat.
6. The Minnesota Twins will pull an upset win over the Yankees
They have at least talked a good game - team president Dave St. Peter told a local radio station that it was "time to slay the dragon". In a season defined by the dinger, the Twins and the Yankees have held a team relay version of McGwire and Sosa's home run chase from 1998. The season ended with the Twins racking up a total of 307, while the Yankees hit 306. Of course, that won't matter come playoff time. As the old saying goes, "Good pitching beats good hitting" - the Twins' pitching staff is 0.13 ERA points better than New York's, and the Yankees' injury woes will set them back.
5. The Braves will sweep whoever comes in their path
As noted above, this has not been a good week for the National League Central. The Chicago Cubs have been eliminated from contention, the St. Louis Cardinals have thrown away chances to win the division, and as if that weren't bad enough, the Milwaukee Brewers have also blown chances to capitalize on the Cardinals' misfortune, leaving St. Louis still in front. Now that the Cardinals are officially division winners, the last few weeks indicate they will be putty in the hands of Atlanta's young, talented lineup in the NLDS.
4. Washington's luck will run out in the NLDS again.
As it often does, the Nationals will fall short of the Championship Series, as while they have pluck and resilience, they lack the depth of talent and the resources of the league's superior teams. Also, a decent bullpen, which cost them the division title and set them back earlier in the year.
3. The Astros will claim the American League pennant again
As the AL's best team, Houston will play the winner of the Wild Card game, and it's no bold prediction to say that the Astros are the better team there, regardless of who wins that one. The power-hitting Twins would be a hardier foe, perhaps taking the Astros six or seven games in the ALCS, but unlike the Yankees, Houston has the pitching to stand up to it.
2. Los Angeles wins yet another National League pennant
It will come down to a 2017 World Series rematch. While Atlanta's core of young talent is strong, including the likes of Ronaldo Acuna Jr., they don't seem ready yet for prime time. Against a real opponent - say...the two-time defending pennant-winning Dodgers - they stand no chance. Out of their six head-to-head matchups this season, the Dodgers won four, outscoring Atlanta 37-19.
1. The Dodgers finally get over the hump in another seven-game series
The Astros are a well-stocked and well-run organization, but the Dodgers are simply too talented to let disaster strike a third time. Heck, even the Brooklyn Dodgers got one eventually. History may be on their side in a reverse psychology sort of way. After all, they lost that seventh game in 2017 at home. The Astros would have home field advantage in the World Series if this matchup came to pass, including a potential seventh game. So maybe the Dodgers would have a chance to enact some revenge.