The major league baseball playoffs are truly set, now that Houston and Chicago have joined the field. (For the record, I had the Astros winning 5-3 and the Pirates winning 3-2.) These are some very interesting match ups and no possible World Series permutation would surprise me. That said, I’ll list my predictions along with what would surprise me about each series.
Texas versus Toronto
The Rangers are a dangerous team with veterans Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder playing well and Cole Hamels in the rotation. Common wisdom, however, says that they don’t quite have enough to overtake the Blue Jays and I’d have to agree. Toronto in five. What would surprise me: A Texas sweep.
Houston versus Kansas City
The Astros might very well be this year’s version of last year’s Royals. Though they struggled down the stretch, their victory against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium seemed to revive their spirits and renew their swagger. I’m picking KC in five because of a better relief corps and a more balanced line up, but if Houston can get out to early leads and mitigate the Royals’ pen Kansas City might make an early exit. What would surprise me: If Ben Zobrist plays poorly. Despite the bigger names on Kansas City’s roster, Zobrist, a consummate professional, might end up the series MVP.
New York Mets versus Los Angeles Dodgers
This made for TV match up features two great pitching staffs in two great pitchers’ parks. The Mets’ offense might have peaked in mid-September, not that the Dodgers line up reminds anyone of Murderer’s Row. Furthermore, Mets outfielder Yeonis Cespedes went from trade deadline hero to being booed, and Matt Harvey didn’t win any friends in the stands or in the clubhouse by arriving late to Monday’s workout. The Mets are not in perfect harmony and they’ll need to be to sing a winning song. Los Angeles in four. What would surprise me: If this series is a high-scoring affair.
St. Louis versus Chicago Cubs
I often pick against St. Louis and I am often wrong. I’m still not sure how the Cardinals won 100 games this season, but they did! This appears to be another close series, but those wild card game winners seem to gain confidence by virtue of winning what is arguably the most pressurized game in the entire playoff structure. Cubs in five. What would surprise me: If these long-time and often bitter rivals played a polite, congenial series with no brushbacks and no take out slides. In fact, this series could get a bit ugly.
American League Championship Series: Toronto over Kansas City
National League Championship Series: Chicago over Los Angeles
World Series: Chicago over Toronto. Cubs break 107 year old curse!