Major League Baseball's postseason will begin on Friday with the first edition of the best-of-three Wild Card Series. This year's tournament features more teams (12) than in years gone by in accordance with the playoff expansion baked into the new collective bargaining agreement. The top two seeds in each league (Dodgers, Braves, Astros and Yankees) earned a first-round bye, while the other eight teams will square off in best-of-three series over the weekend (Guardians-Rays, Blue Jays-Mariners, Cardinals-Phillies and Mets-Padres are the four matchups).
From there, the postseason will take its normal shape: a best-of-five League Division Series; a best-of-seven League Championship Series; and then the best-of-seven World Series.
We here at CBS Sports are legally obligated to make a fool of ourselves every October by attempting to forecast how the next few weeks will play out. Below, you'll find our staff's predictions, along with a short explanation for their choices. (The staff is presented in alphabetical order.)
R.J. Anderson's bracket
World Series pick: Dodgers over Astros
Anderson: I think the Dodgers are, by far, the best team in baseball. That doesn't guarantee them anything in the playoffs; it's quite possible they're upended in the divisional series because that's how five-game series work sometimes. The Astros have a strong case as the second- or third-best team in the majors, depending on how you judge such things. From that perspective, my bracket plays it fairly safe. I did throw in a wrinkle or two to make it less boring. It'll still look bad in a month's time.
Mike Axisa's bracket
World Series pick: Yankees over Braves
Axisa: Outside the bizarre pandemic season in 2020, we have more postseason teams than ever, and I still arrived at Astros vs. Yankees (would be the third time in six years) and Braves vs. Dodgers (would be third straight year) in the LCS. Baseball finds a way. The Dodgers were pretty clearly the best team in baseball this year, though I think the Astros are best built for a short postseason series, if that makes sense. Their lineup is deep with low-strikeout hitters who also hit for power, and they can run power arm after power arm after power arm at you. I'm also kinda sick of picking Houston to go to the World Series every year, so I'll say this is the year the Yankees slay the dragon, and Aaron Judge carries New York to a championship to put a nice little bow on his superhuman season.
Kate Feldman's bracket
World Series pick: Dodgers over Astros
Feldman: Look, I know the Braves have been unbeatable for like two months at this point, but I don't think anyone is besting the Dodgers. Alex Verdugo can say whatever he wants about fake 60-game championships; 2022 is real and it is here and it is Los Angeles' friend. The Astros are really really good. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers is a heck of a 1-2-3 punch and Jose Altuve is still Jose Altuve. But Freddie Freeman is pulling his name out of the muddy offseason and Clayton Kershaw just keeps adding to a Hall of Fame resume and oh hey, remember Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May? They've got enough pitching to allow for a blown Craig Kimbrel save or two. And anyway, the Dodgers winning would be good for baseball. We should want teams to run $300 million payrolls. We should want them to hand out nine-figure contracts to the best players, because that's who makes your team good.
Dayn Perry's bracket
World Series pick: Astros over Dodgers
Perry: I think predicting postseason outcomes, particularly now that we've added another best-of-three layer to it, is generally a fool's errand. So my guiding philosophy is to just pick the best team, assuming relative health. So that's what I've done. Given the way the Braves have leveled up over the final months of the season, I don't feel entirely confident picking the Dodgers over them, but I think L.A.'s roster depth could be more of a factor than it otherwise would be. I don't know, man.
Stephen Pianovich's bracket
World Series pick: Phillies over Yankees
Pianovich: Yes, these Phillies are bizarre enough to either win the World Series or get no-hit twice in two Wild Card Series losses. But here are the only two things you need to know about my picks:
- I live in Philadelphia.
- We're talking about the Phightins.
Matt Snyder's bracket
World Series pick: Dodgers over Blue Jays
Snyder: There's got to be some kind of funkiness, so I'll go with the Blue Jays breaking up the group of power teams we've seen through the season and being the one with a relative surprise run. I actually had them as the World Series champion in the preseason, so it works out fine there. I couldn't, however, pick against the Dodgers this time. I usually never pick them because it seems boring to go with the best team, but this time I couldn't resist because they are just so good and they haven't even really been healthy or technically firing on all cylinders many times throughout the season. This is the Dodgers group that finally breaks through in a full season.