Around the Horn Talk Writers’ Roundtable: Playoff Predictions Edition

By: Kyle May

Kathy Willens/AP
Kathy Willens/AP

As we begin the playoffs, 10 teams will battle to become the World Series champion. Lets take a look at the playoff teams and what they have in store for themselves.

The Lead-Off

1. Who wins the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees? Why?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The game should be a close, well-contested matchup. All eyes are on Carlos Correa to see how he responds to the hype of the playoffs. Ultimately I think that the Astros will win.

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily Images
Corey Sipkin/New York Daily Images

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): The Astros will come out with a win against the Yankees. The Astros have better pitching and will send Keuchel to the mound. Keuchel has been great all year and will give the Yankees hell. Also, the Astros are healthier than the Yankees. Will Tanaka be ready? It hurts not to have Teixeira in the lineup and also on the field with his golden glove. Astros win the game 3-2.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): I believe the Houston Astros shall win the single game Wild Card play-in game.  I am guessing Dallas Keuchel shall be starting for Houston.  I think Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) will be able to earn a victory over the New York Yankees.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Astros will beat the Yankees. Keuchel will limit the Yankees to 2 runs and Astros will win 6-2.

Sean Meyers (Dodgers’ Writer)The New York Yankees are destined to win the AL Wild Card game. After having a strong 2015 season, and leading the AL East for a good majority of it despite all of their injuries, the Yankees are bound to play multiple postseason games. They have the bats to do it, and with the magic of Yankees Stadium they should have no problem winning the Wild Card game.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): Right now the AL wild card game is a coin toss. The Yankees barely hung on to clinch a playoff spot and the Houston Astros have been far from anything spectacular. However this is a playoff game, and with tension already in the air with these two ball clubs; it’s going to make for a very good game. I’m going to stick with the New York Yankees as I have all season long for the simple fact they have the better pitcher on the mound come Tuesday night. As far as the regular season stats go; the New York Yankees have split a four game series with the Houston Astros which was also hosted in Houston. The Yankees will win the game by leaning on home field advantage, and I’m also taking Masahiro Tanaka anyday against Dallas Keuchel.  

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer): The Yankees win the game based on experience. They have been there and done that before. Experience will show in the one game playoff. They also have the added motivation after the passing of Yogi Berra.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer): In this one game duel, I would have to give the edge to the Astros, based mainly on a certain 27 year old Oklahoman Cy Young contender named Dallas Keuchel. Sporting a 2.48 ERA coupled with over 200 strikeouts, I give the edge to the Astros based mainly on pitching. This would complete one of the greatest turnarounds in MLB history; just a couple of years ago, the Astros were perennial cellar dwellers, and now they are contending for a spot in the AL playoffs.

2. Should the Cubs throw Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester against the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game?

Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Sun Times

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Cubs have a great problem to have. I think that they should throw Arrieta because of his success against the Pirates this season and because he is red hot on the mound.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Earlier, I personally said Lester due to his postseason experience, but Arrieta has been on fire all season, especially in the second half. Playing home or away doesn’t effect Arrieta. He has been successful in his own ballpark or his opponents ballpark. Arrieta also has owned the Pirates this season. He is 3-1, 0.75 ERA, 33 K’s, 5 walks, in 5 starts for a total of 36 innings pitched. The Pirates have only hit a depressing .151 batting average against Arrieta.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): If I were the Cubs’ manager, Joe Maddon, I would give the ball to Jon Lester (11-12) 3.34 ERA.  I recognize Jake Arrieta (22-6) 1.77 ERA, may be a more popular choice due to, in part, his remarkable success during the 2015 campaign.  The playoffs in general, and the Wild Card play-in game in particular, is a high pressure-all or nothing; one and done game.  Lester has performed in the post-season (6-4) 2.75 ERA.  I would take the post-season experience of Lester over Arrieta in this pressure situation.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Arrieta no doubt. He’s been on fire and has also pitched very well against the Pirates this season.

Sean Meyers (Dodgers’ Writer): When looking at a one game Wild Card game, there is no way you should be resting your best arm. Jake Arrieta has been a stud all season, so why not give him the ball for the chance to lock up a playoff series for the Cubs. By doing this, you are also giving him the chance to pitch in that series, just not in Game One in a ‘Battle of the Aces.’

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): No doubt about this one, the Cubs will regret it if they don’t start Jake Arrieta. The guy has been lights out all season long, and there is no need to slow him down now. The Cubs will be a team to keep on eye on especially if they win this series. They will have all the momentum in the world if they can beat the Pirates who I have ranked as the best team in my power rankings this week.  

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer): The Cubs need to throw Jake Arrieta because there is no tomorrow. The downside is he then becomes the number three in the next series.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer): This is really a wonderful problem for the Cubs to have; most teams don’t have two #1 guys to fight it out for this start. There are two schools of thought on this question: 1) Give the start to the guy who’s been a stud all season, or 2) Give the grizzled vet the start. Arrieta has been a revelation this season, sporting a no-hitter and a fantastic low ERA. Lester has had less of a spectacular season numbers-wise, but he’s been a bit unfortunate in his starts in terms of run-support, so his numbers are a bit deceiving. If I was Joe Maddon, I would give the start to Jon Lester, based on his track record of excellence in the playoffs that Jake Arrieta can’t match.

3. Give your prediction for the Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS series.

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): I think that the Blue Jays will defeat the Royals 3 games to 1.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): The Blue Jays win the series 3-1. The Rangers lose the first game to lefty David Price. Donaldson hits a total of 3 homers in the series. Hamels bounces back in game 4. Blue Jays rest early and prepare to take on the winner of the Houston vs Kansas City series.

Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star
Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): I believe the Toronto Blue Jays will be victorious over the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.  The Toronto team had a hard-luck start on Sunday, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays.  The loss to the Rays was unfortunate, however, Toronto maintains home field advantage in the ALDS playoff picture.  In a short series, home field advantage is important and can be a deciding factor.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): The Blue Jays will sweep the Rangers 3 games to none. Price and Hamels will be a pitcher’s duel that the Jays win 3-1. The next two the jays will win in convincing fashion over weak Texas pitching.

Sean Meyers (Dodgers’ Writer): Although the Texas Rangers have looked dangerous down the stretch, making a nice push to get into the post-season comfortably, the Blue Jays have been one of the best teams in the American League for most of the season. Pitching, hitting, fielding, the Blue Jays have just about everything needed to win a World Series. The team and management went all in at the trade deadline, essentially setting them up for a ‘World Series or Bust’ storyline. While it is a new season once the playoffs start, I feel as though the Blue Jays will continue their strong play in the postseason.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): Tough question on who I think would win this series. The Blue Jays are legit contenders to make the World Series, but they are also rivals to the New York Yankees. The Texas Rangers will lose this series for the simple fact they won’t be able to match the Blue Jays in runs total.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer): The Blue Jays take the series against the Rangers. They won a tough division by a large margin and are too strong to overcome.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer): Rangers in 4. I haven’t seen a scrappier bunch of players since the 2014 KC Royals (convenient, I know), and their comeback this season has “team of destiny” written all over it.

4. Give your prediction for the Dodgers-Mets NLDS series.

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): I think that pitching will dominate this series and that the Mets will win it in 5 games.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Mets win sweep the Dodgers. The Mets pitching will dominate the Dodgers lineup. Also, Mattingly screws up like he always does. Cespedes takes Kershaw and Greinke deep. deGrom tosses a complete game shutout.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer)I believe the New York Mets shall defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I believe Yoenis Cespedes shall prove to be the key to the Mets’ success.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Dodgers and mets will go the distance with the mets edging out of the Dodgers in game 5. deGrom will outduel Kershaw in game 5 to advance.

Sean Meyers (Dodgers’ Writer): Going into a Dodgers-Mets series, I have a lot of faith in the Dodgers. After covering them for most of the 2015 season, I feel as though they have proven weapons to unload this post-season. With a determined Kershaw and a lethal Greinke taking the mound in Games One and Two, the Dodgers are set up to battle any matchup they encounter. The bats have been alive too, and the roster has the versatility to line up with any combination of pitchers. The Mets have been exciting to watch this season, but may not have been half the team they are if they didn’t get the chance to beat up on a weak NL East division for a good chunk of the year.  No matter the outcome, this will be an exciting series to watch, filled with great pitching and clutch hitting.

James Sabau/Getty Images
James Sabau/Getty Images

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): One thing we must remember is that this Mets team is not the same team that was slumping hard before the ASG break. After the team added Yoenis Cespedes, they have been on a mission to own the NL East. However they are an unproven team when it comes to facing playoff contenders which is why I have them falling short to the Dodgers. The Mets will have a great group of pitchers that will help them compete at a high level, but won’t have the intensity to match the atmosphere.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer): I’ll take the Dodgers over the Mets based on Greinke and Kershaw being able to jump out and take a 2-0 lead. Don Mattingly will have the Dodgers ready to go.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer): Mets in 5. This is contingent on Yoenis Cespedes being healthy for the start of the series. I just like the Mets pitching combined with their powerful offense too much to have the Dodgers winning this game. It’s really hard to pick against the likes of Greinke and Kershaw, though…

Grand Salami

Who has the easier path to the World Series, the Cardinals or Royals?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Cardinals have the easier path because the NL is weaker than the AL this year. Although the top NL teams have better records than the top AL teams, it is because top-to-bottom, the league is weaker. The AL has a wider variety of teams that are capable of knocking off the Royals.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Kansas City Royals do until they meet the Cardinals in the World Series. The Cardinals have to face some of the top starters in the NL in both the NLDS and NLCS.  In The American League,  the Royals have a decent rotation to battle with the winner of the Astros vs Yankees. Like I said it will be the Blue Jays offense vs the Cardinals pitching in the World Series and pitching usually shuts down the offense in the postseason.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): Any team can lose on any given day.  Conversely, any team can win on any given day.  Baseball tends to favor who is hot.  The Cardinals made their incredible run on the strength of their pitching.  Recently, their pitching has appeared to not be as dominate.  Late in the season, the Cardinals had troubles with both the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Whichever of these two teams win the NL Wild Card play-in game will provide a tough opponent for the Cardinals.  I think the NLDS may be more difficult for the Cardinals to win; rather than the NLCS in which they would face either the Mets or the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I think based on playoff experience, once the Cardinals get past the NLDS, their path to the World Series shall prove easier than Kansas City’s.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer): Royals. The Astros aren’t nearly as stiff a matchup as the Pirates or Cubs, who are top teams in the MLB and have played Cardinals well all year.

Sean Meyers (Dodgers’ Writer): As of Sunday morning, I believe the Cardinals have an easier route to the World Series. Although the Wild Card team may be strong this year, the Cardinals are getting to play a non-division winning team, who more than likely will gas their ace in a Wild Card game. The Blue Jays need luck on their side today to win the American League and match up with a Wild Card game for an ALDS series. The Royals are built to win a championship, and the Yankees have had the Blue Jays number for years; two teams the Blue Jays may have to overcome in order to make it to the World Series. Not saying the road for the Cardinals will easy, but it is a path they have travelled in recent years and appears to be very achievable based on recent success.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): The Royals have the easier path to the world series and it’s not even debatable. The NL is packed with top-notch competition however injuries do happen therefore anything is possible. No I do not wish something of that nature would happen, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. I’m looking forward to see what the Cardinals have in stock since they just so happen to have the best record in baseball. Good luck to anyone’s team that may have reached the playoffs and hopefully we see some exciting baseball.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer): The Royals have the easier path. The Cardinals play in the toughest division in baseball. The top three records all came out of the NL Central. The World Series Champion is coming from the first Cardinals series….book it!

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer): I’m not sure if “easier” is really the right word; all of these teams have done the most important thing in baseball, and that is win games. The playoff field is the strongest of the strong, so it’s important not to discount each team’s ability to build on what they’ve done in the regular season. With all that being said, I do think it will be more harder for the Cards to make it to the World Series. Both the Cubs and the Dodgers have excellent 1-2 punches with their rotations, and I’m not sure if the Cardinals will be able to maintain their fantastic play through October. Believe me, I’m not confident at all in betting against the Cards, as their quality of play has been beautiful to see. I just believe fundamentally that the NL field is a little bit stronger as a whole than the AL; most of this has to do with pitching prowess.


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