For the fifth straight season, the MLB playoffs will carry on without the Phillies. But just because the Phillies aren’t competing for the ultimate prize, it doesn’t mean we need to shut down the playoffs. Here is a short preview of the playoff matchups.
Cubs vs. Giants
The Cubbies are the favorites to win it all on paper, which would break all of their curses in the process. The Cubs have it all – they’re third in the majors in runs scored and lead the league in team ERA, coming in at 3.15. John Lester will get the ball game in Game 1 for Joe Maddon’s club. Conor Gillaspie‘s dagger three-run home run in the ninth, and the left arm of Madison Bumgarner (four-hit, complete-game shutout) catapulted the Giants past the Mets in Wednesday night’s wild card thriller. The Giants are as dangerous, if not more, than all other postseason qualifiers. Oh, did I mention it’s an even year?
Dodgers vs. Nationals
Runs will be at a premium in this series. Game 1 will feature a classic pitcher’s duel featuring Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw, a three time Cy Young award winner, returned to the rotation just in time after injuring his back mid-way through the season. Both teams have depth at pitching, but the Nats will be at a disadvantage with Stephen Strasburg sidelined with an elbow injury.
Blue Jays vs. Rangers
The Blue Jays are riding high after Edwin Encarnacion‘s three-run walk-off home run sent his team into the ALDS. Cole Hamels and his pitching staff will have their hands full with Toronto’s potent lineup, featuring Jose Bautista, Encarnacion and reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson. Hamels finished the campaign with 15 wins, the most since 2012 when he recorded 17 wins with the Phils.
Indians vs. Red Sox
The Indians will look to carry LeBron James’ magic as the city is going after its second major championship in four months. Indians ace Corey Kluber has returned to his 2014 Cy Young dominance, notching 18 wins with a 3.14 ERA. The Red Sox can flat out hit. They lead the league in team batting average and runs scored. At 40 years young and in his final season, David Ortiz is having a career year, hitting .315 while launching 38 homers.
The 2016 playoffs all include intriguing matchups. Any one of these teams can win the World Series because it’s all about who gets hot at the right time.