by Julian Spivey
The 2023 World Series may not be filled with many household names or franchises with giant fan bases but it should be a pretty fun, closely matched series featuring two teams with similar recent histories. Both the American League champion Texas Rangers and National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks are merely two years removed from 100-plus loss seasons – marking the first time in World Series history in which such a thing has happened.
Both teams have had similar paths throughout the postseason, with each having a 9-3 record thus far and each having to come back and win two consecutive games on the road in the League Championship Series.
The Diamondbacks are looking for the second World Series title in franchise history having gone 1-0 in World Series competition beating the New York Yankees in 2001. The Rangers are seeking its first title in franchise history having previously lost two World Series to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.
Let’s take a look at these competitors position-by-position:
OK, if you read my preview and prediction of the National League Championship Series between the D’Backs and the Philadelphia Phillies you’ll remember that I said I didn’t have much knowledge of D’Backs rookie catcher Gabriel Moreno and even though the fine folks at MLB.com in their version of this article took Moreno as an advantage over veteran All-Star J.T. Realmuto, I couldn’t make that same call myself. It turned out MLB.com was right and I was wrong. Moreno is hitting .279 with three home runs and nine RBI in 12 postseason games this October and has been one of Arizona’s most productive bats. The Rangers have a rookie backstop themselves who had an impressive first season and was even an A.L. All-Star but due to a wrist injury had a rougher second half. Heim has hit .250 for Texas this postseason with two home runs and six RBI, with both of those homers and most of those RBI coming in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. This is a tight decision but I’m leaning toward Moreno based on what I’ve seen this postseason thus far.
Both first basemen for the Diamondbacks and Rangers have kind of been scuffling this postseason despite their respective team's successes. Nathaniel Lowe is striking out 40 percent of the time at the plate this postseason for the Rangers. He’s hitting .224 for the postseason but did wake up a bit in the ALCS against Houston with seven hits in the seven-game series, including two of his postseason’s three home runs and four RBI. Christian Walker, who’s the most powerful batter in the D’Backs’ lineup hitting 33 homers and driving in 103 runs during the season, had a really hard time against the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff in the NLCS with only two hits in 22 at-bats. Since neither first baseman has really done a whole lot in the postseason thus far I’ve got to go with Walker for his regular season numbers and the fact that he’s scarier in his lineup than Lowe is in his.
Marcus Semien of the Texas Rangers is one of the three best second basemen in baseball. I’m pretty confident in that. I think Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks might be one of the most underrated players in baseball period. I’d rather have Semien on my team at the beginning of a season but at this very moment, I’d rather have Marte as my second baseman. Semien hasn’t hit well this postseason with just a .192 average, zero homers and two RBI. Meanwhile, Marte has the longest postseason hitting streak to begin a career in MLB history going at 16 straight games. Marte was 12-for-31 (.387) in the NLCS and 8-for-19 (.421) in the Diamondbacks’ four wins of the series. His 19 hits in 12 games this postseason is pretty insane with five doubles, a triple, two homers and 7 RBI. If Semien gets hot that’ll prove big for Texas but right now Marte is the hottest hitter going for Arizona.
This one isn’t even close. The Rangers have rookie Josh Jung, coming off an All-Star season, at third base and he’s had a solid postseason in his first time around hitting .289 with three home runs and eight RBI. The Diamondbacks have easy outs at third base no matter who they threw out at the hot corner in veteran Evan Longoria, whom it’s hard to see how he’s still in the league watching him these days, and the likely even worse Emmanuel Rivera when he’s not playing third. Longoria and Rivera have combined to hit .143 this postseason.
The Diamondbacks have a pretty solid shortstop in second-year man Geraldo Perdomo, who was an N.L. All-Star this season and had a very solid NLCS against the Phillies with eight hits but Corey Seager has been one of the hottest hitters all season long for the Rangers – as Joe Davis and John Smoltz liked to remind us A LOT in the ALCS he’d probably be the A.L. MVP this season if Shohei Ohtani wasn’t a baseball unicorn. Seager raked this season hitting .327 with 33 home runs, 96 RBI and led the A.L. with 42 doubles and that was incredible while missing more than a month’s worth of action due to injury. One of the great postseason players of this era, much of it with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s continued his hot hitting in October with 15 hits in 12 games, including five doubles, three homers and six RBI.
Left field is a curious matchup in the World Series as the Rangers have been going with rookie Evan Carter, who made his MLB debut less than a month before the postseason began. Carter has been tremendous this postseason and the big stage doesn’t seem to be bothering him one bit. The 21-year-old has hit .308 with six doubles, a homer and five RBI this postseason while playing stellar defense that has included multiple highlight reel catches. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was an N.L. All-Star this year but cooled off after a hot start. Gurriel hit .261 during the season with 24 home runs and 82 RBI. In the postseason, Gurriel has hit .250 with a couple of homers, six RBI and he stole a couple of bags in the NLCS against the Phillies.
The Rangers and Diamondbacks each have above-average defensive center fielders with below-average hitting in Leody Taveras and Alek Thomas respectively. Taveras certainly had the better season hitting .266 with 14 homers, 67 RBI and 14 stolen bases, while Thomas hit .230 with nine home runs and 39 RBI. Thomas’ average has been lower than his season number at .214 but he seems to have found some more pop in the postseason with four homers, including two against the Phillies in big moments in the NLCS. Taveras is hitting .244 this postseason with a home run, three RBI and four stolen bases.
The right field matchup features two stars and quite possibly the single player on each of these teams to most watch during the World Series in the hot-hitting Adolis Garcia for the Rangers and the certain to be the N.L. Rookie of the Year in Corbin Carroll. Garcia absolutely owned the Astros in the ALCS with five home runs and 15 RBI while hitting .357 (and that included one game in which he struck out four times). He’s .327 for the postseason overall with seven homers and 20 RBI and is having one of the greatest offensive postseasons in baseball history. Carroll had really hot NLWC and NLDS rounds against the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers but cooled off quite a bit in the NLCS against the Phillies, that is until the deciding game seven, in which he went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. One of Carroll’s biggest threats is his speed on the basepaths, which includes four stolen bases in 12 games this postseason.
The outfielders for these two teams are fairly even, but right now Garcia seems like the most unstoppable hitter on the planet and he alone leads me to give Texas the outfield edge.
Mitch Garver didn’t even play in the American League Wild Card series against the Tampa Bay Rays nor game one of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Then Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy plugged him into the lineup for game two of that series and Garver hit a huge grand slam. He hasn’t left the D.H. spot since. Garver is hitting .294 this postseason with two homers and 11 RBI. Tommy Pham has been the most-used designated hitter for the D’Backs this postseason and has bit a measly .167 at the plate with two solo home runs.
The 1-2 guys in the rotation for the Texas Rangers this postseason have been nearly unbeatable. Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery have combined to go 7-0 with 45 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched. The Rangers have truly needed these two aces to go deep into games with dominant control because the team has basically gone with an almost unheard-of three-man bullpen in the postseason. The third starter for the Rangers will be veteran and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer, who missed more than the last month of the regular season due to injury and has only pitched 6.2 innings in his two postseason starts thus far. If they need a fourth starter in the series it’ll likely be Dane Dunning who’s pitched 4.2 innings in little use in the postseason thus far.
The Diamondbacks have two studs at the top of their rotation too in Zac Gallen, who will get the ball in game one of the series tonight, and Merrill Kelly, though they haven’t been quite as lights out as Eovaldi and Montgomery for Texas. Gallen is 2-2 this postseason with a rough 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings pitched with 13 strikeouts. Kelly is 2-1 for Arizona with a much better 2.65 ERA in 17 innings with 19 strikeouts. The biggest surprise for the Diamondbacks during the postseason on the mound and the real reason the team escaped the big bats of the Phillies in the NLCS is Brandon Pfaadt, who had a nearly 6 ERA in the regular season but has a 2.70 ERA (despite getting knocked around by the Brewers in the Wild Card round) in 16.2 innings. The Diamondbacks are at a bit of a disadvantage in that game four will most likely be a bullpen game, though the team’s bullpen has been solid throughout the bullpen after being almost completely remade during the second half of the season, which includes the acquisition of closer Paul Sewald from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline.
As previously mentioned, the Rangers have basically gone with the three-man bullpen of setup guys Josh Sborz and Aroldis Chapman and closer (and longest-tenured Rangers player) Jose Leclerc throughout the postseason. Those three pitchers have combined for 24.4 innings of relief and are appearing nearly every game. Leclerc has racked up three saves this postseason but has allowed five runs. Chapman and Sborz have been a bit more solid in the run allowing department with only one apiece. The trio has combined for 21 strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks have more arms they can go to in their bullpen, which includes Ryan Thompson (10.2 innings pitched), Kevin Ginkel (nine innings) and Sewald (eight innings). Lefty Joe Mantiply, Miguel Castro and Andrew Saalfrank have also seen some time during the postseason. Thompson has allowed three runs to score this postseason, but Ginkel and Sewald have combined for almost two complete games between them and not a single runner has crossed the plate against them. Sewald has six saves this postseason with 11 strikeouts. Ginkel leads the D’Backs bullpen with 13 Ks, while Thompson has added eight.
With the Diamondbacks having a few more arms they believe they can turn to and Leclerc having been a little shaky at times for the Rangers I’ll give Arizona the bullpen edge.
I haven’t been doing a coaching edge during these postseason preview and predictions pieces I’ve been writing this month but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this was Rangers manager Bruce Bochy’s fifth World Series as a manager and third with a different franchise. He previously won three championships with the San Francisco Giants and no manager in baseball is as successful as he is at winning championships right now. Sorry, Torey Lovullo. That’s just the way it is.
I think this has the capability of being a really good and really tight World Series. I think the teams are fairly evenly matched and we could be in store for a potential classic series. A lot has been made already that with two fan bases not accustomed to winning a lot lately and being smaller than large market franchises the television ratings on Fox could be the worst ever for a non-Covid (2020) year. But why are baseball fans concerning themselves with what the TV ratings are? This could be a great series. Enjoy it!
Prediction: Rangers in a full 7-game series.
by Julian Spivey
The National League side of the playoffs is looking like déjà vu with the Philadelphia Phillies swinging their way through the N.L. side, including two straight years of beating the Atlanta Braves, a team that finished 14 games ahead of them in the N.L. East Division both years. It’s not quite the same for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but for the second straight year a team that finished well behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the N.L. West Division shocked them in the N.L. Division Series.
I think a lot of people, maybe more familiar with the Phillies from last year’s postseason run, or because they’re an East Coast team or simply because they have bigger names like Bryce Harper and Trea Turner, are thinking the National League Championship Series might be a cakewalk for them, but I think this could be closer than that, especially if the D’Backs two stud pitchers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly pitch with their A-games.
The NLCS begins tonight at 7 p.m. on TBS with the Diamondbacks traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Here’s a breakdown of the series position-by-position:
I just looked at MLB.com’s version of this type of article, and they think the Diamondbacks have the catching advantage with Gabriel Moreno, a 23-year-old rookie that I honestly don’t know a lot about having not caught many D’Backs games this season. Moreno hit .284 with seven home runs and 50 RBI in 111 games. I think MLB.com’s thinking is he’s had a power streak in the postseason thus far with three homers already and he’s really good at throwing out base stealers (and the Phillies have run a bunch in the postseason, especially Turner). I have to go with the old reliable veteran J.T. Realmuto, who maybe wasn’t as good this season as he has been historically (.252, 20,63), but I don’t see him letting the big stage get to him. Realmuto has been one of the best backstops in the game at throwing out base stealers (something the D’Backs do a lot too) and has been one of the best-hitting catchers in the game over the last decade. I’m not going to let a hot postseason start for Moreno sway my opinion here.
Christian Walker has been one of the Arizona Diamondbacks' biggest offensive producers this season and is likely the team’s biggest power threat but let me ask you one question. Who scares you more at the plate if you’re a pitcher: Walker or Bryce Harper? That’s what I thought. Walker hit .258 this season with a team-leading 33 home runs and 103 RBI. Harper’s power production wasn’t as great with 21 homers and 72 RBI (in about 30 fewer games), but he hits for a higher average at .293 and always seems to step up his game during the postseason. Harper has 14 career postseason homers and his three already this postseason in just six games ties his best for a single postseason.
Ketel Marte always seems to be an underrated player, probably because there hasn’t been much reason to talk about the Diamondbacks during his now ninth season with the club, of which he’s already one of the franchise’s all-time best position players. Marte hit .276 this season with 25 homers, the second-highest total of his career, and 82 RBI. Marte has two homers and four RBI in 22 at-bats this postseason. The Phillies have sophomore Bryson Stott at second best moving over from shortstop this season when the time acquired Trea Turner during the offseason. Stott had a quietly good season hitting .280 with 15 home runs, 62 RBI and 31 stolen bases. He has a homer and seven RBI in six games this postseason but has been hitting about 40 points below his season average in the small sample. This matchup is pretty close to being what I’d consider a push, but to keep things from being a little out of hand on the advantages I’ll give Marte’s veteran leadership the upper hand.
It’s young versus old when it comes to the hot corner for these two teams. The Diamondbacks have veteran Evan Longoria toward the end of his career and not near the offensive threat he was in his heyday with the Tampa Bay Rays. But his veteran presence must be huge for a young-ish ballclub. Longoria’s regular season numbers were a bit deflated because he wasn’t the team’s main option at third but has started each of the team’s five games thus far this postseason. Longoria only hit .233 when he played this season. For the postseason he’s only 3-for-18. Alec Bohm kind of gets hidden in a Phillies lineup that includes Harper, Turner, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos but he had a pretty solid season hitting .274 with 20 home runs and an impressive 97 RBI. Another tally in the advantage column for the Phillies offense.
Geraldo Perdomo made the N.L. All-Star team this season for Arizona, but let’s be real here. Who would you rather have on your team? Perdomo or Trea Turner. It’s kind of a tale of halves in the season for these two shortstops – Perdomo had a hot first half but his OPS dropped nearly 200 points in the second half. Meanwhile, Turner after being a major signing for the Phillies during the offseason and looking like Captain America for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic scuffled big time in the first half but really turned it on in the second half upping his OPS by more than 200 points over the first half. Turner’s OPS in the postseason thus far is a through-the-roof 1.455 and he’s had the greatest season in baseball history when it comes to stolen base percentages with a perfect 34-for-34 when you combine the regular season and postseason.
The Phillies have sort of been going with a platoon in left field of Brandon Marsh against right-handed pitching and Cristian Pache against southpaws, but Marsh will see much of the playing time in the NLCS, which is probably better for the Phillies from an offensive standpoint. He’s a pretty outstanding fielder too (though Pache is probably better). The D’Backs have Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left field who started the season on fire and has struggled since. That MLB.com article I previously referenced says the Phillies have the advantage, but I just don’t know about that. Marsh is 2-for-14 in the postseason with a solo homer. Gurriel is 5-for-21 with a homer and three RBI.
Johan Rojas, the Phillies center fielder, just made his Major League debut on July 15 this season but he’s been pretty impressive hitting .302 with 14 stolen bases (out of 15 attempts) since coming up. That half-season of play is more impressive than what Alek Thomas has managed to do for the D’Backs this season. Thomas has only hit .230 with nine home runs and 39 RBI and Rojas has managed to double Thomas’ WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in half the time.
I’m going to feel bad about right field because I think based on what I’ve written about left and center field, this is the spot in the outfield that sways the outfield advantage as a whole. Corbin Carroll, the 22-year-old who’s certain to win the National League Rookie of the Year honor, has been Arizona’s best player all season. He hit .285 and became the first rookie in baseball history to reach 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases. He also tallied 30 doubles and led the league with 10 triples. He hasn’t slowed down a bit in the postseason with seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) with two homers, four RBI and two stolen bases to go along with it. Meanwhile, after watching the NLDS between the Phillies and Braves, I am certain that Nick Castellanos is the hottest hitter in the National League at the moment. Castellanos hit two homers in back-to-back games (incredibly all were solo shots) to end that series and hit .467 in that series. Based on the season as a whole, the D’Backs have the right field advantage with Carroll but I wouldn’t want to face Castellanos right now if I were the D’Backs pitching staff.
Kyle Schwarber frankly drives me up the wall with his style of play and I cannot believe Phillies skipper Rob Thomson has him hit leadoff in his lineup. His three-outcome strategy at the plate of either hitting a home run, walking or striking out just isn’t the way I believe the game should be played. So, what you can probably expect from him in the NLCS against Arizona pitching is a couple of bombs and then not a whole lot else. The question is – will those bombs mean more in the series than Tommy Pham’s offensive output for the Diamondbacks? Pham is 7-for-22 in the postseason but was 6-for-14 with four runs scored in the NLDS against the Dodgers. I know some people are going to roll their eyes at this but at the moment I’d rather have Pham getting on base than Schwarber possibly hitting a couple of homers this series.
The rotations for both of these teams have been the real deal thus far in the postseason. The casual baseball fan may not know the names of Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly for Arizona, as well as they do Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola for the Phillies, but they have pretty identical numbers to the Phillies top two. Where the Diamondbacks are at a rotational disadvantage is they basically have nothing to follow up Gallen and Kelly with Brandon Pfaadt, who’s only managed seven innings pitched through two postseason starts and had a season ERA of nearly six this season, as their third starter. Meanwhile, the Phillies' third starter Ranger Suarez has a ridiculously good 1.16 ERA in seven career postseason games. The Diamondbacks are going to need to probably win three to four games during Gallen and Kelly’s starts this season to win the series, while anyone the Phillies send to the mound could easily beat you. Philly hasn’t had to use a fourth starter this postseason but they have veteran Taijuan Walker if they need one. If Arizona needs a fourth starter this series it probably should be a bullpen game and their season would probably be over.
Both of the bullpens on these teams have been extremely impressive this postseason. The Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel has been there/done that when it comes to postseason baseball and despite the fact he can occasionally give fans heartburn when he’s on the mound he usually comes out on top. Jose Alvarado is the scariest arm in the Phil’s bullpen to me and Orion Kerkering, who only pitched in three games at the end of the season, has had three perfect playoff innings thus far. The acquisition of Paul Sewald to close for the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline was huge for the team. Kevin Ginkel was demoted to AAA in June but has been top-notch for the D’Backs since returning to the bigs. The biggest thing for the Diamondbacks bullpen this series could be how lefties Joe Mantiply and Andrew Saalfrank handle the scary lefties of Harper and Schwarber in the Phillies lineup. The Phillies relievers throw more smoke, have more postseason experience and the pen probably has more depth, so while it’s close, I think they have the edge here.
Prediction: Phillies in 6
by Julian Spivey
The 2023 American League Championship Series has a Lone Star flavor to it this year with the American League West Division champion Houston Astros taking on the in-state rival Texas Rangers, one of the three A.L. Wild Cards in the postseason. The A.L.C.S. will be the first time the two ball clubs from Texas have met in the postseason and it’s sure to be a helluva fun series between fairly evenly matched teams.
The A.L. West division hunt went down to the final day of the regular season just a couple of weeks ago with the Astros winning the division via a tiebreaker as both teams finished the season at 90-72.
The reigning champion Astros, who have reached their amazing seventh consecutive ALCS, defeated the Minnesota Twins in four games in the best-of-five American League Division Series. Meanwhile, the Rangers have yet to lose in the postseason sweeping the 99-63 Tampa Bay Rays in two games in the American League Wild Card series and upsetting the league’s best team this season in the 101-61 A.L. East Division champion Baltimore Orioles in three straight games in the ALDS.
The ALCS begins tonight at 7 p.m. on Fox with the Rangers traveling to Houston to take on the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Here’s a breakdown of the series position-by-position:
It’s kind of hard to breakdown the position of catcher between these two because when it comes to 37-year-old veteran Martin Maldonado it’s widely known that he’s one of the best game-callers and defensive catchers in the game, but offensively he’s not going to give you much of anything. The Rangers, on the other hand, had one of the A.L.’s All-Star catchers on their squad this season with 28-year-old Jonah Heim having a breakout season in his second year with the team. Heim hit .258 this season with 18 homers and 95 RBI. Maldonado, who split time this season behind the plate with the more offensive rookie Yainer Diaz, hit a measly .191 with 15 home runs and 36 RBI.
Nathaniel Lowe had a pretty good season for the Rangers at first base with 17 home runs and 82 RBI, while hitting .262, but he’s been scuffling at the plate thus far in the postseason only going 4-for-25 (.160). Astros veteran Jose Abreu, in his first season with the team, struggled to begin the season but finished the regular season as the hottest hitter on the team and one of the hottest hitters in the game. That continued into the ALDS against the Twins, even with the almost week-long layoff since the Astros had a wild card round bye with Abreu hitting three bombs and driving in a postseason-leading eight runs in the four games of that series.
The closest offensive matchup you’re likely going to get between the Astros and the Rangers is at second base. The Astros have veteran Jose Altuve at second and he’s proven over this last decade to be one of the greatest postseason players in baseball history. His 24 career postseason homers are second all-time to Manny Ramirez’s 29. Altuve missed the first couple of months of the season after hurting himself in the World Baseball Classic before the season but still managed to have a nice season with 17 homers, 51 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .311 average. Rangers two-bagger Marcus Semien is easily one of the best at his position in the game and had a terrific year hitting .276 with 29 homers, 100 RBI and 185 hits. Semien will certainly be capable of out-playing Altuve in the ALCS but has struggled in his first five games of the postseason hitting just .174 – that and Altuve’s postseason superpower lead many to giving the advantage to …
Josh Jung came out of the box this season shining at the hot corner for the Rangers as a 25-year-old rookie. He made the All-Star team and finished the season hitting .266 with 23 homers and 70 RBI, which were lowered by missing 40ish games due to injury. The Astros have Alex Bregman, who’s been there/done that in the postseason, and he put up another solid season in 2023 hitting .262 with 25 homers and 90 RBI. Bregman has 16 career postseason homers, but his career postseason average is about 40 points lower than his regular season average. Still, with the experience Bregman has, I’m willing to give him the advantage here but don’t be surprised if Jung outplays him.
Shortstop is an interesting matchup in this series because it involves two of the last three World Series MVPs in Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena, who won the World Series MVP last season, and Corey Seager for the Rangers, who was the World Series MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020. But I don’t think this matchup is very close as Seager is arguably the best shortstop in all of baseball, especially at the plate. Seager was second in the A.L. this season in hitting with a .327 average and hit 33 homers with 96 RBI. He’s also been their hottest bat in the postseason thus far hitting .429 with a 1.537 OPS over five games. His experience from years of postseason play with the Dodgers is something that can’t be denied. For his part, Pena hit .263 this season with 10 home runs and 52 RBI.
The outfield is hard to prognosticate because Yordan Alvarez, who’s probably the scariest player in the series, has been splitting time between left field and designated hitter in the postseason. He alone could sway the edge in this series when it comes to the outfield. For the purposes of this piece, I’m going to consider him a designated hitter. So, that leaves veteran Michael Brantley playing left for the ‘stros, with Chas McCormick in center field and Kyle Tucker in right field. The Rangers have up-and-comer Evan Carter, who has been a star in the postseason thus far, in left, Leody Taveras in center and Adolis Garcia in right.
I know some may scoff at this, but I’m going to consider Tucker and Garcia to be a push. Both had monster seasons for their respective teams. Tucker hit .284 with 29 home runs, 112 RBI and stole 30 bases. Garcia hit for much less average than Tucker at .245 but for more power with 39 homers to go along with 107 RBI.
Both team’s center fielders are among the weakest hitters on their respective teams but are both rangy, above-average defensive players. Taveras was +6 outs above average for the Rangers this season, while McCormick was +4 outs above average for Houston. McCormick is a bit better at the plate than Taveras.
In left field, Brantley is the veteran with the playoff experience but it feels like Carter may be the bigger threat during the series the way he’s been performing in the postseason thus far. Carter is hitting .429 this postseason with a homer, three doubles and three RBI and is walking twice as much as he’s striking out.
So, as I previously mentioned, for the purposes of this article Yordan Alvarez is Houston’s DH and he has a clear advantage over the platoon of Mitch Garver and Robbie Grossman for the Rangers. Alvarez hit four homers in just four games in the ALDS against the Twins and has seven homers since the start of Houston’s playoff run last season and 10 for his postseason career. Rangers pitchers should probably hope no one is on base when he comes to the plate often this series.
The biggest question regarding the rotations for the ALCS is whether or not Max Scherzer is going to come back from an injury that cost him the last month-plus of the regular season and has kept him out of the Rangers' first two postseason series. It looks like he’s going to make the team’s ALCS roster but that still doesn’t mean he’ll play or how effective he’ll be if he pitches. What I desperately want to see out of this series is Scherzer matching up against his former Detroit Tigers and New York Mets teammate Justin Verlander. The two were teammates for much of the season with the Mets before both being dealt to their current, much better situations before the trade deadline at the end of July. The two don’t really seem like they like each other a whole lot and seeing them go head-to-head on such a big stage would be amazing – but it’s probably unlikely even if Scherzer can go.
The Astros would seemingly have the upper hand in the rotation for the series with Verlander, Framber Valdez, who is a quality start machine, and Cristian Javier but damn if Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi haven’t been the most dominant twosome of the postseason thus far for Texas. Montgomery and Eovaldi have combined to go 3-0 this postseason with a 2.19 ERA and 22 strikeouts in their four starts (again the Rangers have only played five games so far). Future Hall of Famer Scherzer would likely slot in as the game three starter if he can go, which would definitely keep the Scherzer vs. Verlander thing from happening as Verlander gets the ball for the ‘stros in game one tonight. Other pitchers who could get starts in the series include Jose Urquidy for Houston and Dane Dunning for Texas. The way Montgomery and Eovaldi have been pitching has made them look unbeatable, but let’s be honest – this Astros offense is scarier than those of the Orioles and Rays. I’m willing to get the postseason experience that the Houston staff has the advantage.
The Rangers back-end combination of veteran Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc has been pretty amazing this postseason thus far and if you include Josh Sborz into the mix they have combined to allow just one run in 11 appearances between them this postseason. I don’t know much about the rest of the Rangers bullpen because we haven’t had to see much of them this postseason after those three arms. The Astros always have one of the better bullpens in baseball anchored by closer Ryan Pressly and setup man Bryan Abreu. Pressly is an amazing 13-for-13 in career postseason saves, including two this postseason. Abreu has seven strikeouts over three scoreless postseason outings so far this year. If the Astros starter gets them late into the game good luck against those two guys. Again, I feel like the “been there/done that” experience for Houston is the deciding factor.
Prediction: Houston Astros in 6
by Julian Spivey
The Arizona Diamondbacks took down the National League Central Division champion Milwaukee Brewers in two games in the National League Wild Card series and now get to travel to Los Angeles to take on the division-rival Dodgers in the National League Division Series.
These two teams are pretty familiar with one another and thus this should be a close and fun series, despite the fact that the Dodgers won 16 more games than the Diamondbacks this season. If you rewind the clock one year you’ll remember that the Dodgers were upset in the NLDS last season by the inner-division rival San Diego Padres, who had finished 22 games behind them in the National League West.
There’s also reason to be concerned if you’re a Dodgers fan because let’s face it this Dodgers team isn’t near as scary on paper as it has been for much of its decade-long run of success. Walker Buehler has missed the whole season with an injury and Julio Urias is on the ineligible-to-play list due to off-the-field legal issues (he’s a woman-abusing asshole to be more specific).
So, what the Dodgers have going pitching-wise after their future hall of fame ace Clayton Kershaw, who’s often been a little wonky in postseason performance, is rookie Bobby Miller and veteran Lance Lynn. Kershaw, despite battling shoulder issues all season, was still one of the N.L.’s best pitchers with an amazing 2.46 ERA and 13-5 record. Miller had a terrific rookie season going 11-4 with a 3.76 ERA. Lynn was solid with the Dodgers going 7-2 with a 4.36 ERA after being acquired before the trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox. The Dodgers have a solid bullpen featuring Evan Phillips, who seems to have fallen into the closer role, with Brusdar Graterol, Caleb Ferguson, Ryan Brasier and Shelby Miller all putting up nice numbers.
Merrill Kelly will take the ball for the Diamondbacks in game one of the NLDS, having not had to pitch in the NLWC. Kelly had the Diamondbacks' best ERA this season at 3.29, despite it being his teammate Zac Gallen getting all the potential N.L. Cy Young Award talk. Kelly was 12-8 in 30 starts with 187 strikeouts. He should match up well against Kershaw in game one, which could be a nice pitcher’s duel. With the N.L. side of the division series getting a day off between games one and two, it should set Gallen up to take the mound in game two of the series on normal rest. Gallen was 17-9 this season with a 3.47 ERA and gave up two runs on five hits in six innings against the Brewers in the deciding game two of the NLWC round. The problem facing the Diamondbacks is they don’t really have anything worthwhile in their rotation following Kelly and Gallen, so if they’re going to contend with the Dodgers they absolutely will have to win the games in which Kelly and Gallen start, which is a tough task against the Dodgers offense. Arizona does have a pretty solid bullpen, though, led by closer Paul Sewald and set-up guys Kevin Ginkel and rookie Andrew Saalfrank, who pitched well in the NLWC.
The Dodgers clearly have the better lineup 1-9, especially with perennial National League MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Betts hit .307 this year with 39 homers and a new MLB-record 107 RBI from a leadoff man. Freeman .331, which led the team, with 29 homers, 102 RBI and was one double shy of becoming the first hitter since the 1930s to reach 60 doubles in a season. The Dodgers had an incredible four hitters reach the 100 RBI mark with Max Muncy (105) and J.D. Martinez (103) joining Betts and Freeman. The Dodgers also have one of the better-hitting catchers in the game in Will Smith, who hit .261 this season with 19 homers and 76 RBI.
The biggest threat in the Diamondbacks’ lineup is their superstar rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll, who basically had rookie of the year wrapped up by midseason. Carroll became the first rookie in baseball history to tally 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases and the Dodgers really need to keep him off the basepaths to have success.
The Diamondbacks’ biggest power threat is first baseman Christian Walker, who hit a team-leading 33 homers and drove in a team-leading 103 RBI this season while hitting .258.
Second baseman Ketel Marte (.276, 25, 82) and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel (.261, 24, 82) will be Arizona’s other biggest threats in the lineup. There isn’t a whole lot after that to get the Dodgers pitching staff quaking in their cleats.
This should be a fun series, that I believe might be closer than many probably think it’s going to be, but ultimately I don’t see the Dodgers letting a team so far behind them in their own division beat them two postseasons in a row.
Prediction: Dodgers in 5
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7 @ 8:20 p.m. (CST) on TBS
Game 2: Monday, Oct. 9 @ 8 p.m. (CST) on TBS
Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 11 @ TBD (CST) on TBS
Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 12 @ TBD on TBS (if necessary)
Game 5: Saturday, Oct. 14 @ TBD on TBS (if necessary)
by Julian Spivey
The Atlanta Braves and its fan base must find themselves in déjà vu again as the team, which won its division by a whopping 14 games over the Philadelphia Phillies, finds itself playing against the red-hot Phillies for the second straight year in the National League Division Series.
Despite winning the division in 2022 by 14 games over the Phillies, the Braves were thoroughly dominated by the Phillies in the NLDS last year being eliminated in four games.
I have rough news for Braves fans this year. It’s not going to be easy facing this ballclub in October.
The Braves were the best team in baseball in 2023 from the very beginning of the season. The team slugged a record-tying 307 home runs this season and has, without a doubt, the most firepower of any offense in the entire game. However, pitching wins in the playoffs, especially in a shorter series like the best-of-5 NLDS and the Braves' pitching has looked a little sloppy toward the end of the season, and the team’s best pitcher Max Fried, who missed a bulk of the regular season, is facing a blister problem on his throwing hand that may or may not be fixed heading into the series. The Braves are also without their most veteran presence on the mound in Charlie Morton, who certainly would’ve taken the ball in game three of the series. The Braves are going with second-year stud Spencer Strider on the bump in game one and he was one of the N.L.’s Cy Young Award favorites for most of the season but had a few hiccups in the second half where he allowed a splurge of runs in bunches. He won’t be able to get away with doing that in the postseason and the Phillies offense is fairly high-powered itself, as Strider certainly remembers from the last postseason when they knocked him around. Fried is an uncertainty in game two with that blister issue. Then it’s probably a bullpen game for the Braves in game three and back to Strider on Fried on short rest for the remainder of the series, which is always an iffy proposition. The Braves bullpen, led by closer Raisel Iglesias and veterans A.J. Minter, Joe Jimenez and Kirby Yates was solid for the majority of the season, but at times can also be shaky, especially as of late.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have a pretty good 1-2-3 punch at the top of their rotation, which will feature Ranger Suarez, who was 4-6 with a 4.18 ERA (but capable of being better) this season, in game one. Game two will most likely feature Zack Wheeler, who thoroughly dominated the Miami Marlins in game one of the Wild Card round with 6.2 innings in which he allowed only one run and struck out eight batters. Game three would likely see Aaron Nola on the hill for Philly. Nola, was even better than Wheeler in the NLWC, with seven shutout innings of three-hit ball.
Now, the Braves' offense is FAR better than the Marlins, but these pitchers all had a lot of success and experience last season leading the Phillies to the National League pennant. The Phillies also have a strong bullpen bolstered by Craig Kimbrel and Jose Alvarado. I really think with the uncertainties of the Braves pitching staff, mostly Fried’s blister and a likely bullpen game in the mix, that the Phillies have the pitching advantage in this series.
Now, as I mentioned, the Braves have a superior offense to the last team the Phillies faced and that includes a whopping fiver hitters who had 30-plus homers this season and three of which had 40-plus homers, including the majors leader in first baseman Matt Olson, who hit 54. Right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. had 41 homers and 106 RBI to go along with his league-leading 73 stolen bases, and he is the best player of any team in this postseason, no matter what MLB.com will try to tell you. Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna got to the 40-homer mark on the final day of the season with a two-homer game that also got him to an even 100 RBI on the season and he comes into the playoffs hot.
The Braves also have third baseman Austin Riley (.281, 37, 97) and second baseman Ozzie Albies (.280, 33, 109) who would be the best offensive player on a great many teams in the league to contend with.
The Phillies' offense is led by a couple of the most exciting players in the game in first baseman Bryce Harper who hit .293 with 21 homers and 72 RBI in somewhat limited action this season (he missed around 40 games) and shortstop Trea Turner who hit a disappointing-for-him .266 with 26 homers and 76 RBI. Turner was also a perfect 30-for-30 in stolen bases this season so it would behoove the Braves pitching staff to keep him off the basepaths. Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber is always one of the scariest hitters in the game, but at least you know he’s either going to hit a homer, walk or strikeout – though if he hits enough homers (he had 47 on the season) good luck keeping the team down. Right fielder Nick Castellanos also had a nice comeback season for the Phils with 29 homers, a team-leading 106 RBI and hit .272.
If the Phillies' pitching staff can keep the Braves’ offense under five runs per game during the NLDS I honestly think the Phils are going to pull off the ridiculous feat of upsetting a team that was 14 games ahead of them in the standings for the second straight year. Doing so this season would be even more impressive than last season.
If I may drop the objectivity of a journalist for just one second, the Braves are my favorite MLB team and have been since I was an eight-year-old and the Phillies are the one team I did not want to see the team face this postseason.
Prediction: Phillies in 5
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7 @ 5 p.m. (CST) on TBS
Game 2: Monday, Oct. 9 @ 5 p.m. (CST) on TBS
Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 11 @ TBD (CST) on TBS
Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 12 @ TBD on TBS (if necessary)
Game 5: Saturday, Oct. 14 @ TBD on TBS (if necessary)
by Julian Spivey
The American League Central Division champion Minnesota Twins dominated the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card round and now move on to the American League Division Series to take on the A.L. West Division champion and reigning World Series champion Houston Astros.
The first game of that series is on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 3:45 p.m. (CST) on FS1.
The Twins dominated the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round because of terrific pitching from their one-two punch of Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray, but those guys will need a bit of rest before taking on the killer Astros lineup. Lopez may be able to go in game two on Sunday on slightly short rest because if the Twins save their best pitching for games three and four this could be a quick series.
The Twins haven’t announced their game one starter as of this writing but it’ll either be Joe Ryan, who was 11-10 with a 4.51 ERA this season, or Bailey Ober, who was 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA this season. Whoever takes the mound in game one for the Twins will be going up against future hall of famer and multi-time former World Series champion Justin Verlander, whom the Astros re-acquired from the New York Mets at the trade deadline. Verlander has been really strong since rejoining the team with a 7-3 record and a 3.31 ERA. Verlander’s 16 postseason wins are the second-most in baseball history behind Andy Pettitte’s 19 and if the Astros run this postseason lasts long enough that record could be in jeopardy. The Astros have a clear advantage in game one of the series when it comes to starting pitching and in game two of the series they’re going to toss Framber Valdez, who’s one of the most consistent pitchers in the game. Valdez was 12-11 this season with a 3.45 ERA and a team-leading 200 strikeouts. The Twins could find themselves quickly on the brink of elimination against Verlander and Valdez. The Astros used to have the “Killers Bees” on offense with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman. Now it's the “Killer Vs” you have to worry about from them on the mound.
I don’t want to be too negative toward the Twins in this series prediction piece but I can say for certain their offense is nowhere near as good as the Astros.
The Twins offense is led by outfielder Max Kepler, who led the team in home runs with 24 this season and also 66 RBI. It’s hard to believe a team could win a division in today’s game without a single hitter reaching 70 RBI. Rookie Royce Lewis has been the best hitter for the team since being called up. Lewis played in 58 games this season and managed 15 homers and 52 RBI in just that small amount of time. He also became just the third hitter in MLB postseason history to homer in his first two postseason at-bats against the Toronto Blue Jays a couple of days ago. Then there’s also maybe the biggest storyline of the series – Twins shortstop Carlos Correa playing against the Houston Astros, whom he won a World Series with in 2017. Correa hit .230 this season with 18 homers and 65 RBI and always seems to be a big threat come playoff time.
The Astros probably have the scariest lineup in the American League with Yordan Alvarez, fresh off winning A.L. Player of the Month in September, with a .293 average, eight homers and 20 RBU in the month – and he didn’t even lead his own team in RBI in September. First baseman Jose Abreu, who began the season with a ridiculously long homer drought, hit seven homers and drove in 28 runs in September. Those guys come into the postseason on fire. Then you have one of the all-time great postseason players in second baseman Jose Altuve, who missed two months this season but still hit 17 homers, drove in 51 runs and hit .311. I haven’t even yet mentioned the team’s probable MVP this season in outfielder Kyle Tucker who led the team with 112 RBI, while hitting .284 with 29 homers.
For the Twins to have any chance in the ALDS they are going to have to win when Lopez and Gray start. It’s going to be a tough task even if they do that.
Prediction: Astros in 5
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7 @ 3:45 p.m. (CST) on FS1
Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 8 @ 7 p.m. (CST) on FS1
Game 3: Tuesday, Oct. 10 @ 3 p.m. (CST) on Fox
Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 11 @ TBD on Fox or FS1 (if necessary)
Game 5: Friday, Oct. 13 @ TBD on Fox or FS1 (if necessary)
by Julian Spivey
The American League Division Series between the Texas Rangers, hot off of the dominant Wild Card round performance over the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Baltimore Orioles begins Saturday, October 7 at noon on FS1.
This should be a really fun series with two teams that haven’t made the postseason in many years and are young and hungry.
The Orioles had the luxury of having a bye for the Wild Card round so they are able to match their pitchers up exactly how they’d like to, while the Rangers two best starting pitchers – Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi – will have to go later in the ALDS. The Orioles pitching staff might not yet be household names in upstarts Kyle Bradish, who had a breakout sophomore season with a 2.83 ERA, 168 strikeouts and a 12-7 record in 30 starts. The O’s haven’t announced a game one starter as of this writing, but I imagine it’ll be Bradish taking the hill. The O’s No. 2 starter has been the hard-throwing rookie Grayson Rodriguez, who had a 4.35 ERA on the season but has been much better in the second half of the year at 2.58. Rodriguez was 7-4 in 23 starts. The Orioles will have Kyle Gibson (15-9, 4.73) and Dean Kremer (13-5, 4.12) lined up after that. If the Rangers were able to throw out Montgomery and Eovaldi in the first couple of games (I suppose Montgomery might start game 2 on slightly short rest on Sunday) I’d feel a little bit better about the Rangers pitching chances. Behind Montgomery and Eovaldi, Texas has Jon Gray (9-8, 4.12), who’s solid but has cloudy availability at the moment with a right forearm injury. After Gray would be Dane Dunning (12-7, 3.70) and Andrew Heaney (10-6, 4.15).
The biggest blow to the Orioles pitching staff was losing dominant reliever Felix Bautista late in the season to Tommy John Surgery, but they still have Yennier Cano and Danny Coulombe, who have had great seasons. The Rangers probably have the advantage now without the O’s having Bautista in the bullpen. Jose Leclerc and Aroldis Chapman were pretty great shutting down the Rays late in games and Chapman has been there, don’t that when it comes to the postseason before.
The offenses for both of these teams are pretty even. It’s going to be great for America to get a big stage to see young studs like Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson. Rutschman, considering by many already to be the best catcher in the game, hit .277 this season with 20 homers and 80 RBI. Henderson tied for the team lead in homers this season with 28, while driving in 82 runs and hitting .255. Anthony Santander, the Orioles right fielder, was the biggest offensive threat for the team this season hitting 28 homers and driving in a team-high 95 runs, while hitting .257.
The Orioles could be a threat on the basepaths this series with spark plug Cedric Mullins in center field and Jorge Mateo at shortstop who combined for more than 50 stolen bases this season.
The Rangers middle infield is the best in all of baseball with Marcus Semien at second base and Corey Seager at shortstop. These vets won’t be stunned by the big stage of the MLB postseason and will be the major key to the Rangers success in the series. Seager was second in the A.L. this season in hitting with a .327 average. He also hit 33 homers, drove in 96 runs and had 42 doubles. Semien led the Rangers with 185 hits, which included 29 homers and 40 doubles. Semien’s 100 RBI were second on the team behind All Star outfielder Adolis Garcia, who drove in 107. Garcia also led the Rangers with 39 homers, while hitting .245. Throw in All Star catcher Jonah Heim, All Star third baseman Josh Jung and first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and this is a pretty scary offense for the Orioles young pitching staff to have to face.
The Orioles were clearly the best team in the American League this season with a league best record of 101-61, in what was probably the toughest division to compete in in the league, but I worry about their lack of experience on the big stage and the young age of the ballclub this early in the team’s success.
I think this will be a great and close series, but I’m leaning toward …
Prediction: Rangers in 5
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7 @ Noon (CST) on FS1
Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 8 @ 3 p.m. (CST) on FS1
Game 3: Tuesday, Oct. 10 @ 7 p.m. (CST) on Fox
Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 11 @ TBD on Fox or FS1 (if necessary)
Game 5: Friday, Oct. 13 @ TBD on Fox or FS1 (if necessary)
by Julian Spivey
Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays
The first American League Wild Card series beginning today is the No. 5 seed Texas Rangers heading to Tropicana Field to take on the No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers are an interesting team in that the ballclub features one of the deadliest offenses in the entire playoffs led by its middle infield of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien but has one of the weakest pitching staffs in the postseason. The Rays, meanwhile, are kind of middle of the road in both aspects of the 12 teams that made the Major League Baseball Postseason. The Rays aren’t quite the same team they were for much of the season with the loss of their ace Shane McClanahan to Tommy John Surgery and one of their offensive stars Wander Franco suspended indefinitely while being investigated for relationships with underage girls. Still, with hitters like Randy Arozarena, Yandy Diaz and Isaac Paredes it’s a better offense than one we’ve seen the Rays take all the way to the World Series before. In a short series like the Wild Card round, it’s the pitching that will likely have the biggest impact. Game one today will see Tyler Glasnow take the hill for Tampa Bay and Jordan Montgomery for Texas. Glasnow was 10-7 this season with a 3.53 ERA. Montgomery was 10-11 in time split between St. Louis and Texas with a 3.20 ERA. I’m willing to give the Rangers the advantage here due to the offense. Zach Eflin, who tied Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt for most American League wins this season with 16, will go for the Rays in game two on Wednesday. The Rangers have yet to name a starter for that game but I would assume it will be Nathan Eovaldi, who was an All-Star for the Rangers in the first half but has struggled in the month or so since returning from an injury. I’ll give the Rays the advantage in game two forcing the series to a winner-take-all game three. Kevin Cash has been somewhat of a genius manager for the Rays interchanging parts to frequently take his team further than typically expected. But I’m leaning toward this Rangers offense in this series.
Game one begins at 2 p.m. (CST) on ABC. Games two and three would also be at the same time and network on Wednesday and Thursday.
Prediction: Rangers in 3.
Toronto Blue Jays @ Minnesota Twins
Much like the Texas Rangers in the previous American League Wild Card matchup, the Toronto Blue Jays have a deadly lineup featuring the likes of former A.L. MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and George Springer. The Twins have two top-of-the-line pitchers leading their rotation in Pablo Lopez, who was 11-8 with a 3.66 ERA this season and Sonny Gray, who was 8-8 but had the A.L.’s second-best ERA at 2.79. The Blue Jays have a couple of pretty good starting pitchers themselves in Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios, and that’s not even considering that it’s Chris Bassitt, who tied for the league lead with 16 wins this season. Gausman was 12-9 with a 3.16 ERA this season and is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game. Berrios, who not too long ago was an All-Star for Minnesota, was 11-12 with a 3.65 ERA. There aren’t game three probables yet if it goes that far (and I think it will) but I assume it would be Bassitt for Toronto and Joe Ryan, who was 11-10 with a 4.51 ERA, for Minnesota. The Twins have one of the weaker offenses in the entire postseason and the worst of the A.L. teams. Max Kepler led the team in homers and RBI with only 24 and 66. The pitching should be close between the teams, but I just don’t think the Twins can slug enough to take out the visiting Blue Jays.
Game one begins today at 3:30 p.m. (CST) on ESPN. Games two and three would also be at the same time and network on Wednesday and Thursday.
Prediction: Blue Jays in 3.
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers
Word came out on Monday afternoon that one of the Milwaukee Brewers best pitchers Brandon Woodruff wouldn’t be available for the National League Wild Card round due to a shoulder injury that may keep him out longer if the Brewers advance. The Brewers likely have the best rotation of all 12 teams in the postseason, which could play huge dividends, but the team also has one of the weakest offenses in the postseason so an injury to a top-flight pitcher like Woodruff could be enough to sway a short series like the one against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona has a couple of good starting pitchers in N.L. Cy Young Award candidate Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, but because the team had to use them over the weekend in an effort to clinch a postseason berth neither will be available in game one of the series leading the team to send Brandon Pfaadt and his 5.72 ERA to the mound against Brewers ace Corbin Burnes, who was 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA this season. I don’t expect the Diamondbacks to win game one today with that matchup. So, it’ll be up to Gallen, who was 17-9 with a 3.47 ERA, to beat Freddy Peralta (I assume, he hasn’t been announced yet), who was 12-10 with a 3.86 ERA this season. If Gallen and the Diamondbacks offense led by probable N.L. Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll and Christian Walker can do that it would force a deciding game three, which would probably give Kelly, who was 12-8 with a team-best 3.29 ERA this season, an advantage over whoever the Brewers tossed out there.
Game one begins today at 6 p.m. (CST) on ESPN2. Games two and three would also be at the same time and network on Wednesday and Thursday.
Prediction: Diamondbacks in 3.
Miami Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are giving me the 2022 Phillies vibes where they ran their way through teams that had been better than them all season long in the National League side of the playoff bracket before finally succumbing to the Houston Astros in the World Series. I wouldn’t put it past them doing that again, especially if the offense is clicking and aces Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola do what they’re capable of doing on the mound. The Phillies also have one of the most powerful offenses in the postseason featuring Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. The Marlins offense features batting champion Luis Arraez and some power in Jorge Soler but overall, it’s not that scary. Game one today features Wheeler, who was 13-6 with a 3.61 ERA, on the bump for the Phillies. Jesus Luzardo, who was 10-9 with a 3.63 ERA, will take the mound for Miami. Game two would feature Aaron Nola, who was 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA, pitching for Philly and Braxton Garrett, who was 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA, going for the Marlins. I expect the Phillies offense to be too much for Miami and this is the one series I’m predicting over in two games.
Game one begins today at 7 p.m. (CST) on ESPN. Games two and three would also be at the same time and network on Wednesday and Thursday.
Prediction: Phillies in 2.