Following the completion of a long, arduous, 162-game regular season, the MLB playoffs are officially in full swing.
The 10-team field – which began play one week ago – has already been reduced down to six remaining contenders, with the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins losing in winner-take-all wild card games, and the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox falling in their respective division series.
Here are some predictions for the matchups still up for grabs:
Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs (NLDS)
The defending World Series champion Cubs have a 2-1 series lead over the Nationals following their one-run victory at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon.
Washington has struggled at the plate through its first three games, scoring only seven runs on 11 hits. None of its players who’ve registered more than one at-bat are hitting above .250, including All-Stars Bryce Harper (.167) and Daniel Murphy (.091).
The Cubs, on the other hand, have received a solid boost from first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has recorded five RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage against the Nationals, picking up right where he left off from last year’s memorable postseason run.
With pitcher Tanner Roark, who notched a career-worst 4.67 ERA this season, slated to start for the Nationals in Game 4 of this best-of-five series, Chicago will close it out today at home.
Prediction: Cubs win series 3-1
Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees (ALDS)
The Indians are set to host the Yankees in a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The home team is yet to lose so far in this series, with New York surviving back-to-back elimination games at Yankee Stadium over the past two days.
Rookie of the Year candidate Aaron Judge has struggled for the Bronx Bombers in his debut postseason campaign, hitting .067 with one home run and four RBIs. The Yankees, as a whole, haven’t found consistency at the plate, scoring only one run in Games 1 and 3 combined, compared to 15 runs in Games 2 and 4.
For Cleveland, the same core of players that helped the franchise win its first American League pennant in 19 years last season has returned to the playoffs in lackluster fashion. First baseman Carlos Santana, center field Jason Kipnis, shortstop Francisco Lindor and designated hitter Michael Brantley have collectively hit 10-for-58 against New York’s pitching.
But with the two clubs returning to Progressive Field for Wednesday night’s all-or-nothing contest, the Indians will generate just enough offense to earn their second consecutive trip to the American League Championship Series.
Prediction: Indians win series 3-2
Dodgers vs. Cubs (NLCS)
A National League Championship Series rematch from just one year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers and aforementioned Chicago Cubs will once again square off for an opportunity to compete in the World Series.
Los Angeles, which capped off a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series on Monday, led the MLB with 104 wins this season, the most by any team since 2004.
While they did stumble toward the end of September, at one point losing 15 of 19 games, the Dodgers possess the most talented roster in all of baseball.
Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish will thwart Chicago’s offense, and hitters Justin Turner, Logan Forsythe and Yasiel Puig will continue to be effective at the plate, ending the Cubs chances at repeating as world champions.
Prediction: Dodgers win series 4-2
Indians vs. Astros (ALCS)
The Houston Astros, who defeated Boston 3-1 in the American League Division Series on Monday, will face the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series beginning this Friday at Progressive Field.
Cleveland won five of six regular season contests between the two teams this summer, outscoring Houston 29-22. However, with the slate wiped clean for this best-of-seven matchup, the Astros revamped pitching staff will lead the franchise to its first World Series appearance since 2005.
Former American League MVP winner Justin Verlander – acquired on Aug. 31 from the Detroit Tigers – is 2-0 so far this postseason, earning wins as both a starter and reliever. Verlander, along with No. 2 pitcher Dallas Keuchel, will provide Houston what it needs to get past the Indians and win its second all-time pennant.
Prediction: Astros win series 4-3
Dodgers vs. Astros (World Series)
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros will meet for the first time in the Fall Classic later this month.
The Dodgers have been to 21 World Series and won six championships in its franchise history, compared to the Astros who’ve only been to the World Series once and were swept by the Chicago White Sox in that lone appearance.
Houston has been playing well behind Verlander, Keuchel and All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, but with Los Angeles holding home-field advantage in this series, it’ll come out on top later this month.
Prediction: Dodgers win series 4-2