There are few combinations in sports greater than the words "October baseball." And that is just what we have on tap as the long-awaited 2019 Major League Baseball postseason gets started this week, beginning with the National League Wild Card matchup between the Brewers and Nationals on Tuesday., but few are ever correct.
Who could have foreseen the Cardinals' David Freese crushing a game-tying triple in the ninth and later walking it off in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series? How about Cody Ross, a late-August waiver pickup by San Francisco, crushing his way to the NLCS MVP in 2010?
Not to mention, baseball has seen a different team raise the championship trophy each of the past 18 years. Predictions are a crap-shoot to say the least.
Now that we have all the validity of this playoff guessing squared away, it's time to introduce 10 bold predictions. Aforementioned, the likelihood of these forecasts proving true are one-in-a-million. Nevertheless, they are based on real statistics and real people. For that reason, consider them educated-guesses as opposed to out-of-pocket hunches.
Reminder: keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times. Away we go.
1. The Astros won't even reach the ALCS
Listen, the Astros own one of the best rotations in baseball and their lineup features five All-Stars (this year or formerly) as well as a Rookie of the Year candidate in Yordan Alvarez. With that being said, Oakland is 59-29 since June 17, which is the best record in all of baseball. They have also won seven of their past 11 against Houston. The Athletics are no longer scared of the 2017 world champs like they once were.
2. Yankees won't get a single quality start
If the Yanks want to make a run at their 28th title, all the pressure rests on their lineup and bullpen. Their starters rank in the bottom half of the league in innings pitched (26th), strikeouts (17th) and hits allowed (26th). In today's age of shortening games for starters and relying upon the bullpen to pitch four-to-five innings, it may not be crazy to say New York can still make a deep run despite never logging a single quality start.
3. Yankees-Twins games will average over four hours in length
When these two teams met six times during the regular season, the average game lasted three hours and 34 minutes. That includes a five-plus-hour marathon in Minneapolis in July. For context, the average time for a game this season was three hours and five minutes long. This year, both clubs broke the previous single-season record in home runs, and they rank 1-2 in the league in total long balls. Expect a plethora of pitching changes and commercial breaks. Fans wanted more home runs and, well, be careful what you ask for.
4. Canha wins ALCS MVP
Hey, if I am going go out on a limb and say the A's are going to upset the Astros in the ALDS, I might as well put all my eggs in one basket. I'm all in on Oakland, and Canha is one of the reasons why. A lot of postseason heroes end up being under-the-radar role players (Steve Pearce, for example). Very quietly, Canha has put up a very solid season, hitting .273 with 26 dingers in a limited 126 games. He has the potential to be this year's postseason X-factor.
5. Urias becomes the Dodgers' substitute closer
It's no secret Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning has been a roller coaster this season. He set a career-high in both ERA (3.71) and blown saves (8), and his velocity continues to sit at a below league average 91-92 mph. Urias, on the other hand, has shown glimpses of dominance as a reliever. Since returning from suspension, the southpaw has given up just three runs in 12 innings pitched, including 18 strikeouts. With Ryu, Buehler and Kershaw heading the rotation, L.A. needs somebody to step up in an otherwise questionable bullpen.
6. Nationals will finally (sort of) advance
The Nationals have never won a playoff series in their 14-year existence. That is surprising considering they have reached the postseason five of the past eight seasons. The drought is finally ending ... well, sort of. The Nationals will beat the Brewers in the Wild Card Game, meaning they will advance for the first time in franchise history. It won't last long, though, as they would then face the Dodgers in the NLDS.
7. Cardinals are the first team eliminated from LDS
To be blunt, this Cardinals team has been a bit bland and have met my expectations. Goldschmidt has been good, but not his normal MVP-caliber self. Ozuna has hit for power, but has struggled getting on base. Other than Jack Flaherty and Kolten Wong, everybody on the St. Louis roster has had, for lack of a better word, "meh" campaigns. The second half Flaherty has put up has been sensational, but he can only start once every fourth or fifth day. Atlanta takes care of business and sweeps the Red Birds in three games.
8. Muncy wins World Series MVP
Yes, this means I am predicting the Dodgers to finally get over the hump and bring a championship back to Chavez Ravine. Of course, the A's are my pick to represent the American League in the Fall Classic ... and of course, Muncy was released by Oakland back in 2017. If that is indeed the matchup, some of Oakland's best hurlers are left-handed (Manaea, Puk, Luzardo, Anderson). Strangely, Muncy feasts off of same-handedness pitchers, as evident by his career .260/.362/.521 slash line.
9. Crucial call goes against the Yankees in a pivotal game
I White Sox, Tigers and Royals in total ejections. What do those other three teams have in common? They all finished far below .500 and are sitting home in October. For a team that managed to win 103 games amid all the injuries, the Yankees were easily flustered when push came to shove. Aaron Boone and company have shown the ability to be savages in the box and that might come back to bite them. If the A's are getting past the Astros and Yankees, something crazy has to happen. Look for some egregious, polarizing call going against the Yankees at some point over the next few weeks, may it be in a questionable strike zone or a non-reviewable play in the field.how easy the Yankees' players and coaches have lost their temper this season. The Bronx Bombers trailed only the
10. Dodgers bust out the brooms in the World Series
If they can't do it this year, when is it ever going to happen? If anything, this pick is out of boredom of seeing the same team in the World Series every single year. Los Angeles' path to a championship is not easy. Standing in its way are a couple of young bunches in either the Nationals or Brewers, and then quite possibly an even younger group in Atlanta. Expect the Braves to give them a run for their money.
The Dodgers led the NL in homers (279), batting average with RISP (.286) and OPS (.810). As for their starting staff, they led the entire league with a combined 3.11 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Not only will they raise the trophy, Southern California will be celebrating after a clean sweep of Oakland.