As we draw closer to next weeks’ opening round of the MLB playoffs let’s take a look at the American League side. The Cleveland Indians ended the season on an absolute tear, surpassing the Astros for the number 1 spot and securing home-field advantage. Meanwhile, the most intense and must-see series to watch will be the AL West Champion Houston Astros taking on the AL East Champion Boston Red Sox. Both teams have stellar starting rotations along with great young talented hitters up and down the lineup. Lastly, in the do-or-die winner take all Wild Card game, you have the “Baby Bronx Bombers” the New York Yankees hosting the surprising Minnesota Twins. The Yanks are led by rookie phenom Aaron Judge whom likely could win the AL MVP along with Rookie of the Year honors. The Twins counter with a balanced offensive attack led by veteran Joe Mauer and arguably the most underrated second baseman in the majors in Brian Dozier. The American League Pennant race maybe one of the most exciting races in recent memory. Here’s my predictions starting with the Wild Card game between the Yanks and the Twins.
AL Wild Card: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
Both teams will more than likely throw out their best aces. Both teams swing the bat well. Which makes this game so intriguing. But the Yankees have the better bullpen so if it comes to a bullpen war the Yanks have the advantage. Watch out for Gary Sanchez he can be just as big of a factor as Judge. I have the Yankees winning the game 5-4.
Winner: New York Yankees
ALDS: Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
As I mentioned above, this maybe the most compelling series this October. Both teams are good enough to win it all. Both have amazing starting rotations. Houston has been a work in progress over the past several years. Led by young stars like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Dallas Keuchel the Astros got off to hot start and stood atop the American League ranking for most of the season until the Indians over took them in the final weeks for the home field spot. Astros also added former Tigers ace Justin Verlander to beef up their rotation to boost their chances at a title. The Boston Red Sox said good-bye to “Big Papi” last year in a memorable send off to the one games biggest clutch performers in David Ortiz. But there was no shortage of talent. The Red Sox have a balanced line-up that can compete with the best of them. Led by stars Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez the Red Sox stayed near the top the AL East for majority of the season before closing the door on their 9th division title. The Red Sox brought in former White Sox hurler Chris Sale in the offseason and Sale has not disappointed.
So with all this star power between both teams and a city in Houston that has risen from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey all factoring in for a chance at an ALCS spot, I have the Houston Astros winning in an epic game 5 series. I believe both teams will play with fire as you should for October. I believe the key in this series will be Justin Verlander. If Verlander can pitch like the MVP that he was several years back Houston can beat anyone this postseason. In this match-up I believe Verlander will get the job done.
Winner: Houston Astros over the Red Sox in 5 games.
ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
One of the most talked about teams’ in all of sports over the past month will face a team that has an individual that has put up numbers never seen before by a rookie. The Cleveland Indians used a 22-game winning streak to pull away for their second consecutive AL Central title and overcame a few spots in the standings to claim home-field advantage in the American League playoffs. Led by All-Stars Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, and Jose Ramirez the Indians got off to a slow start before cranking it up just a slight notch after the All-Star break. The Indians will face a familiar playoff foe in the New York Yankees. The Indians will undoubtedly be the heavy favorites. The Indians may be the most complete team in baseball. The Yankees have a bullpen maybe not as deep as the Indians, but just as good. To me the starting rotation of the Indians I believe will be too much for the Yankees to handle. The Indians have handled the Yankees well this year and I don’t see anything different here. I have the Indians winning in 4 games and advancing to their second consecutive ALCS.
Winner: Cleveland Indians over the Yankees in 4 games.
ALCS: Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians
In a match-up that features the two best teams in the American League it all comes down to the Indians and Astros for an opportunity to play in the World Series. For one team it’s about proving that they’re among the elite, for another team it’s about revenge. This Series has the potential to go down as one of the great ALCS’ in history. All the pitching stars, all the hitting stars, all the defense studs that this series will show makes it must-see-tv. The good news about the Astros is that they added Verlander, the bad news is Verlander is awful against the Indians. No team in baseball has a better record against Justin than the Indians. Which puts all the pressure on Dallas Keuchel to get the job done. The Indians have had the fuel of what happened last November on their home field as motivation for their recent stretch of play. The fact that the Indians have home field for this series is why I give them the slight edge. I have the Indians defeating the Astros in a close 7 game series.
Winner: Cleveland Indians over the Astros in 7 games.