MLB Postseason: Division Series Staff Picks
After 18 games in four days, eight teams emerged from the opening round of the 2020 MLB Postseason. The format now returns to something fans are familiar with: a best-of-five series for the right to advance to the League Championship Series. For each round, we will survey eleven of our staff members for their picks. Here is how it shook out for the Division Series:
Tampa Bay Rays (40-20, 1st AL East) vs. New York Yankees (33-27, 2nd AL East)
PREDICTION: Tampa Bay in four games
The Rays did not have to sweat it out too much in the Wild Card Series, as they outscored the Blue Jays 11-3 in two games behind two stellar pitching performances from Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow. New York, after blowing out Cleveland 12-3 in Game 1, endured a rollercoaster Game 2 in which they scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning. Tampa Bay looks to advance past the ALDS for the first time since 2008, while New York aims for its third ALCS appearance in four years. Our staff had more confidence in Tampa Bay, as four of the six who voted for them saw a four game series, with the other two predicting five games. The Rays won the season series 8-2.
Also receiving votes: New York (5).
Oakland Athletics (36-24, 1st AL West) vs. Houston Astros (29-31, 2nd AL West)
PREDICTION: Oakland in four games
The Athletics edged the White Sox in three games last week, which was the only AL series to need all three games. After dropping a disappointing Game 1, the Athletics bounced back with two close wins to clinch their first postseason series victory since 2006. Meanwhile, Houston swept Minnesota on the road despite having one of only two losing records in the 16-team field. Oakland has not been to the ALCS in 14 years, while Houston aims to make their fourth in a row. Our team believed in Oakland, as they received an overwhelming nine votes, with six forecasting a four game series. The Athletics won the season series 7-3.
Also receiving votes: Houston (2).
Los Angeles Dodgers (43-17, 1st NL West) vs. San Diego Padres (37-23. 2nd NL West)
PREDICTION: Los Angeles in four games
The Dodgers had perhaps the easiest road to this point, as they swept a Brewers team that qualified for the postseason on the final day of the regular season. Both games were close, however, but Los Angeles saw a stellar pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 that helped them advance. San Diego fell flat in their first postseason game since 2006, allowing seven runs while using eight pitchers. The young team responded, winning their next two games scoring a combined 15 runs. A series victory would give the Dodgers their fourth appearance in the NLCS in five seasons. San Diego only has two NLCS appearances in their history, with the most recent coming in 1998. Our staff preferred Los Angeles, with seven of the nine votes seeing a 3-1 series outcome. The Dodgers narrowly won the season series 6-4.
Also receiving votes: San Diego (2).
Atlanta Braves (35-25, 1st NL East) vs. Miami Marlins (31-29, 2nd NL East)
PREDICTION: Miami in five games
The Braves had the most dominant pitching performance in the Wild Card Series, as they shutout the Reds for back-to-back games, including a 13-inning marathon. Miami, on the other hand, is simply dominant in the postseason, as they have not lost a playoff series in their franchise’s history. The Marlins, like the Braves, were solid on the mound, as the held the Cubs to one run for the entire series. Neither team has made it past this round in quite some time, with Miami’s last NLCS coming in 2003 and Atlanta’s in 2001. Our team liked Miami, with every Marlin vote calling for a full five-game series. The Braves won the season series 6-4.
Also receiving votes: Atlanta (5).
(Cover Photo: Getty Images)