2018 Baseball Playoffs
NLDS and ALDS Predictions
- 01Colorado Rockies vs. Milwaukee Brewers
- 02Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
- 03Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros
- 04New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Colorado Rockies vs. Milwaukee Brewers
- Brewers 5-2 against Rockies this season
- Brewers team ERA 3.73, Rockies team ERA 4.33
- Rockies 4.79 runs per game, Brewers 4.63 runs per game
- Brewers 51-30 at home, 45-37 on the road
- Rockies 47-34 at home, 44-38 on the road
Edge Factor – Milwaukee’s depth in the lineup
While the starting nine for each team balance out in terms of talent and power, the edge for the Milwaukee Brewers in this series is their depth. The Brewers have some great options to pitch hit with Eric Thames and Travis Shaw (who combined to hit 48 home runs this season). That power could go a long way in deciding games in Colorado.
Matchup to Watch - Christian Yelich vs. the World
As the leading contender to win the National League MVP this season, Christian Yelich is an absolute must watch this postseason.
Yelich came alive post-All-Star break, slashing .367/.449/.770.
Yelich also had excellent numbers against the Colorado Rockies this season. In 33 plate appearances, Yelich managed a line of .333/.533/.927, with four extra-base hits and two steals. After watching the Rockies deplete their pitching staff in the Wild Card game, it will be tough for the unit to contain Yelich over the series.
If the Rockies were not coming off the play-in game against the Dodgers on Monday and the marathon Wild-Card game on Tuesday, they would have a better chance to upset the Brewers. However, they likely will only get one start out of their ace Kyle Freeland (most likely game three in Colorado), and their bullpen pitched 9.2 innings this week already. Take the Brewers to win in four.
Pick: Milwaukee to win series (Odds N/A)
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Dodgers 5-2 against Braves this season
- Dodgers 4.93 runs per game, Braves 4.69 runs per game
- Dodgers 3.38 team ERA, Braves 3.75 team ERA
- Dodgers 45-37 at home, 47-34 on the road
- Braves 43-38 at home, 47-34 on the road
Edge Factor – Dodgers on-base percentage
While the Atlanta Braves overachieved this season, they still are a young team with some glaring weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is their propensity to walk batters.
The Braves walked the second most batters per nine innings this season (3.9). The Dodgers tied for second in baseball this season with a team OBP of .333 and led the league with 647 base on balls.
With the power in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup (second in baseball with 235 home runs), the Braves cannot continue to walk batters at their regular season rate.
Matchup to Watch – Clayton Kershaw vs. the Braves youth
Kershaw started only one game against the Braves this season, but it was a gem. Kershaw went 7.2 innings allowing just one run, no walks and striking out eight. The Braves will face Kershaw in game two (and possibly in a game five scenario). Even though Kershaw has struggled in the playoffs, most of the Braves lineup has never even been to the playoffs. While that is sometimes a positive, against a veteran team and pitcher like Kershaw, the chances of a bad game are high.
The Dodgers have put everything together at the right time, which spells for a quick series win over the Braves. While the Braves future looks bright, the Dodgers are the best team in the National League (at least on paper) and last year’s World Series run showed they are capable of winning in the postseason.
Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers to Win Series (-200)
Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros
- Houston 4-2 against Cleveland this season
- Houston 46-35 at home, 57-24 on the road
- Cleveland 49-32 at home, 42-39 on the road
- Cleveland 5.05 runs per game, Houston 4.92 runs per game
- Houston 3.11 team ERA, Cleveland 3.73 team ERA
Edge Factor – Houston’s Bullpen
Although the names in Cleveland’s bullpen are better known, the group stunk it up in 2018.
Outside of Oliver Perez (1.39 ERA in 32.1 innings), every one of Cleveland’s reliever to pitch at least 30 innings had an ERA over 4.24.
That includes Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, who were so pivotal to Cleveland’s World Series run two years ago. Houston’s bullpen has fared very well this season and is not getting enough credit. The group has only one reliever with an ERA over 4.00, with six pitchers posting sub 3.50 ERAs.
Matchup to Watch – Both teams starting pitchers
Over the course of the 2018 MLB season, the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians had the best starting pitching in the American League. There are seven 200+ strikeout pitchers in the two teams’ starting rotations. Of the eight pitchers you would expect to see in this series, only Dallas Keuchel has an ERA above 3.38. Of course, Keuchel is a former CY Young winner, who is 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in the postseason.
Despite the differences in wins (104 vs. 91), this is a very close matchup. Both teams have deadly lineups and top-tier starting pitching. The shakiness of Cleveland’s bullpen is the most significant factor swinging this series in favour of Houston. Unless Andrew Miller (1.10 ERA in 32.2 innings in the playoffs) and Cody Allen recapture 2016 form, the Astros are bound to their second consecutive American League Championship series.
Pick: Houston Astros to win Series (-195)
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
- Boston 10-9 against New York this season
- Boston 57-24 at home, 51-30 on the road
- New York 53-28 at home, 47-34 on the road
- Boston 5.41 runs per game, New York 5.25 runs per game (first and second this season)
- Boston 3.75 team ERA, New York 3.78 team ERA
Edge Factor – Boston’s plate discipline
Although it is possible to argue for either team having the best lineup in baseball this season, one clear advantage the Boston Red Sox have over the New York Yankees is their plate discipline or the simple fact they struck out nearly 200 times less than their rivals. By putting balls into play, anything can happen, and against the Yankees (who were below-third in defensive efficiency this season and turned the fewest double plays in baseball) something good will happen.
Matchup to Watch – J.A. Happ against Boston
One of the reasons the Yankees acquired Happ at the trade deadline was due to his success against the Boston Red Sox.
Happ went 1-1 against Boston this season with an excellent ERA of 1.99 while striking out 29 batters in 22.2 innings.
If the Yankees want to win the series, they need two quality starts from Happ.
Boston’s level of success this season makes them a tough team to bet against. While the Yankees bullpen is designed for the postseason, their starting rotation (outside of Happ) could struggle to stop the Red Sox. The Boston’s 57-24 mark at home this season is also difficult to overlook.
Prediction: Boston to Win Series in five (Odds N/A)
Bonus: Bet on overs in this series, excluding in a likely Chris Sale – J.A. Happ matchup in game one.
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