After an abbreviated and, at times, uncertain 60-game regular season, the. The expanded wild card round played out with a few surprises, and now it's time for the best-of-five Division Series. The winners of these series will, in turn, be playing for a chance to advance to the World Series.
Do note that the Division Series will all be played in neutral sites: the AL in San Diego and Los Angeles, the NL in Arlington and Houston. Unlike in the wild card round, the teams will alternate hosting duties: the superior seed bats last in Games 1, 2, and 5; the lower seed in Games 3 and 4.
Your CBS Sports MLB writers are here to roll out our predictions for all four second-round series. Once these are in the books, we'll be back for another round of soothsaying. But for now the focus is on MLB's answer to the Elite Eight.
Katherine Acquavella (Rays in five): I think the Rays are going to edge the Yankees here, but it's going to be close. Tampa has been really good at everything so far this regular and postseason whereas the Yankees are coming into this series with a questionable second-half rotation and hot/cold offense.
R.J. Anderson (Yankees in five): This one could go either way. I'll go with the Yankees to stay consistent with my preseason World Series pick.
Mike Axisa (Rays in five): New York's offense really showed up against Cleveland. I have questions about the middle of their pitching staff though, and Rays never seem to have a bad player at the plate or on the mound.
Dayn Perry (Rays in five): Really, I have no idea what's going to happen in this series. It's star power versus the best roster depth in the majors. The Rays won eight of 10 regular season contests, but the Yankees right now are healthier than they've been in some time. I'm defaulting to the team that was better in the regular season, but this one's a coin flip to me.
Matt Snyder (Yankees in five): Not much would surprise me here. The Rays won the East by seven games and took eight of 10 from the Yankees in the regular season, so them winning the series seems like the safe pick. I'm betting on the Yankees offense slaying the superior pitching staff -- just as they did in the first round.
Danny Vietti (Yankees in five): Said it before and I'll say it again, the Yankees are the most dangerous team in baseball when healthy. Not only are they healthy, but they are raking at the plate. This series could really go either way because of the depth Tampa Bay possesses in the bullpen, but I'm rolling with my preseason pick.
Katherine Acquavella (A's in three): The A's should be able to come in and make quick work of Houston in this best-of-five series. Like they did in the regular season where they finished 7-3 over their NL West foe.
R.J. Anderson (A's in four): The A's are the better team.
Mike Axisa (A's in four): I think the A's are the better team, and the ALDS format (i.e. no off-days) means Houston won't be able to dance around their bullpen by using their starters as multi-inning relievers.
Dayn Perry (A's in five): Even without Matt Chapman, the A's have the stronger roster. I also think not having any days off works in Oakland's favor given their superior pitching depth.
Matt Snyder (A's in five): Something about how Game 2 went down for the A's makes me think they are gearing up for a deep playoff run. Call it a hunch. Also, they are just the better ballclub here. Sure, the Astros beat a team we thought was better in the first round, but a five-game series is much more an indicator of a better team than three.
Danny Vietti (A's in four): I'm going with my heart over my head in this series. With Matt Chapman out, I believe the Astros have more talent one-through-nine on paper than Oakland. They also have more strikeout arms. However, if baseball has taught us anything, it's that it's not always about talent. Not to mention, it's not as if the Astros lineup tore up Minnesota's pitching in the Wild Card Series. Give me The Town in four and inject it into my veins.
Katherine Acquavella (Dodgers in four): I'm viewing the Dodgers and Padres upcoming series as a big brother/little brother situation. The Dodgers are the big brother; they just simply have more experience, depth and talent. San Diego won't go out quiet, but the team's postseason run is going to end with this series.
R.J. Anderson (Dodgers in five): The Dodgers were the best team in the majors this year; the Padres have too many question marks in their rotation to think they're likely to pull off the upset.
Mike Axisa (Dodgers in four): It's such a bummer Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are hurt. If they were healthy, this could've been an all-time series. I can't see San Diego bullpenning their way through the NLDS the way the club did in the Wild Card Series.
Dayn Perry (Dodgers in five): If I were confident about the health of Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, I'd be picking the Padres in five. Since I'm not, I'll lean Dodgers. You can argue this is a matchup of the two best teams in baseball.
Matt Snyder (Dodgers in five): I really, really want to pick the Padres. They are so fun and the wild card round showed how it would be dumb to count them out, even in the face of a big deficit with their backs against the wall. I'm absolutely not counting them out here; I just think it isn't yet their time to run past these mighty Dodgers, especially in light of the starting pitching injuries.
Danny Vietti (Dodgers in five): I'm going with my head over my heart for this one. The Padres are the most exciting team in baseball. With their natural flair and swag, Fernando Tatis Jr. may single-handedly kickstart the game of baseball into a new era. But they will have to wait one more year to make that happen. Los Angeles beat the Friars in six of their 10 regular season matchups. It's the Dodgers' year.
Katherine Acquavella (Braves in four): Again, like I predicted for the Braves-Reds NL Wild Card Series, Atlanta's offense is just better. The Marlins will probably keep it interesting, but the Braves are going to get by thanks to a powerful offense led by Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna.
R.J. Anderson (Braves in four): Weird things can happen in short series, but the Braves should be able to pull this one off.
Mike Axisa (Marlins in five): Why not? Miami kinda has this team of destiny thing going, and picking the higher seed to win each series is boring.
Dayn Perry (Braves in four): I think the Braves' offense is too much. The Marlins have been a great story this season, but the run ends here. I think, anyway.
Matt Snyder (Braves in four): The pesky Marlins are a fun little story, but the Braves are simply too loaded to take down in a longer series. These teams very recently played and the Braves took the first three games, which would've obviously been a sweep here.
Danny Vietti (Braves in four): I've counted the Marlins out from the start yet they have continued to prove me wrong. So, why not continue that trend in the LDS? Chicago's offense failed to dip into the Marlins bullpen in the Wild Card Series -- a bullpen that compiled a 5.50 ERA in the regular season (26th in MLB). In a much longer best-of-five series, I think Atlanta's star-studded lineup breaks through and forces Don Mattingly to have to dig deeper through his arms.