2022-10-12 · 4 min read · MLB/Baseball
Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers

AP Photo Marcio Jose Sanchez and Ted S. Warren

Now that the inaugural three-team Wild Card round is finished, it’s time for the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, and Braves to show that winning a division really does pay off. A full slate of games begins Tuesday, as we’ll take a look at the matchups of each Division Series below.
After a first-round upset win against the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle looks to keep rolling against the almighty Astros in a battle of AL West rivals. It will be a tough test for Scott servais’ club, with Houston convincingly winning the season series 12-7 - through 19 games, Houston has a +8 run differential over the Mariners, though 11 of the 19 games were decided by three runs or less. From the outskirt, it looks like pitching will once again be the deciding factor - the ageless wonder Justin Verlander squares off against Seattle’s #3 starter, Logan Gilbert, in Game 1 this Tuesday afternoon.
An interesting tidbit entering this ALDS is that Houston reliever Phil Maton, who pitched in 67 games over 65 ⅔ innings this year, was left off the Astros’ roster after he broke a finger punching a clubhouse wall following a poor relief appearance at the end of the Regular Season. This comes just about a year after Milwaukee fans witnessed Devin Williams - the Brewers’ young, superstar reliever - injure himself following a similar wall-punching incident that kept him off the playoff roster. Maton isn’t Williams, he doesn’t possess the electricity or numbers that the latter does, however losing one of your most consistent arms out of the ‘pen going into the playoffs is an unnecessary hurdle. The team also kept veteran lefty Will Smith off the roster, opting for rookie right-hander Hunter Brown and rookie infielder David Hensley.
Although Houston’s favoured, my gut tells me that Seattle will find a way to keep on rolling - probably thanks to Cal Raleigh - and will take down the Astros 3-2.
Similar to Seattle, Cleveland enters this series having swept their opponent in the Wild Card round. Sure, they didn’t have to come back from an 8-1 deficit in Game 2, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama. The Guardians advanced after a 15-inning, 1-0 win that ended with an Oscar Gonzalez solo homer off of Corey Kluber to send Tampa home. Through 24 innings, Cleveland’s staff allowed just one run on nine hits thanks to outstanding starts by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, followed by pure bullpen domination.
Opposing the intimidating Cleveland staff is a Yankee team led by Aaron Judge, one of many offensively-gifted Yankees. A streaky lineup to be sure, but one that Aaron Boone believes can break out against a tough Guardians team. Along with the Guardians being without shutdown reliever Nick Sandlin, New York will also be without a couple notable pieces - infielder DJ Lemahieu (Toe), and relievers Scott Effross (Tommy John) and Aroldis Chapman (a general irritation of playing for the Yankees) will all be off their roster. You could argue Chapman isn’t a loss per se, but Effross - the lesser-known, funky-throwing reliever who they acquired from the Cubs - put up great numbers in the ‘pen, and Lemahieu can be a hitting machine when healthy.
I truly don’t believe New York should be favoured to win this, and I don’t care what their record is - Cleveland is a force to be reckoned with, with the Guardians winning the series 3-1.
I was wrong about the Padres, really wrong. The Mets didn’t help themselves, but San Diego’s lineup showed up at the right time and so did Joe Musgrove. Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt were overmatched by the Padres’ at-bats, with Jacob deGrom being the lone stopgap for New York in Game 2. The horns sounded twice for Edwin Diaz, though neither were in save situations - a far cry from everyone’s hopes of how a game or two would end. San Diego only made one roster change from their series against the Mets; infielder Brandon Dixon is gone, replaced by Mike Clevinger - San Diego’s Game 1 starter.
For the Dodgers, there’s not too much to say. An outstanding team that won 111 games this year, L.A. dominated San Diego - a point that Padres’ Manager Bob Melvin wants to forget, heading into this NLDS. In terms of playoff roster moves, there are two of note for Los Angeles; the first being Joey Gallo’s inclusion and the second being Craig Kimbrel’s exclusion. Beyond the occasional bomb, Gallo provides very little upside. Defensively he can play multiple positions, but the team already has multiple, better options in that regard. In Kimbrel’s case, he lost the closer’s role and struggled at times to stay afloat. He’s not what he used to be, but should be at the top of the list as an injury replacement should the Dodgers need one.
All in all, I think this could very easily be a Dodgers’ sweep. Maybe San Diego steals one, so I’ll say 3-1 Los Angeles.
On the surface, it looked like Philly had no shot against St. Louis - barely creeping into the playoffs, Rob Thompson’s club looked like the worst of the best. That all changed when Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola tossed dominant outings against the Cardinals, shutting them down over two games. The offense was good when it had to be - all six runs scored by the Phillies in Game 1 were tallied in the top of 9th against Ryan Helsley and Andre Pallante, en route to a 6-3 win. Game 2 boasted a pitching duel, with the Cardinals never drawing too close with the exception of the ninth - a short-lived comeback that, in the end, amounted to nothing. Heading into this NLDS matchup, Philly will be without reliever David Robertson who injured himself jumping in the air to celebrate a Bryce Harper homer in the Wild Card round. One strained calf later, and Roberton’s been shelved for the time being.
In Atlanta’s case, the defending World Series champs may not have it as easy as once thought. Philadelphia has shown their ability to battle right to the very end, and certainly has shown the ability to grind out games. The big news for Atlanta is that recently-extended Spencer Strider was deemed healthy enough to be added to the roster, a sign that he will likely pitch at some point over the first three games. 2021 Postseason hero Tyler Matzek did not make the cut, having not put up the same numbers he did last season. That said, Matzek should be one of the first calls should any injuries occur (or Jackson Stephens, one of the last adds for the Braves, struggles). Atlanta is primed for another long playoff run, and fans should be excited to see another year of October baseball in Georgia.
Braves 3 - Phillies 2 is my bet.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins


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