MLB Wild Card and ALDS Predictions
John Kalemkerian | Monday, October 4, 2021
I’m sure whoever once said that the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint had good intentions. But that person clearly never witnessed the mayhem that has been the last two weeks of baseball. From two 105+ win teams racing to avoid a winner-takes-all wild card game to the enticing potential for a five-way (!!) tie for the AL wild card, the end of this regular season can be described with only one word: chaos. Although the results of the final day of the regular season didn’t give us the opportunity to see any game 163’s, fantastic 9th-inning heroics cemented the AL wild-card game as yet another round of the greatest rivalry in baseball. Starting there, let’s get into wild-card and ALDS predictions.
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Two teams riding high will clash in Fenway in what, for one, will be the culmination of weeks of fighting to stay alive. For the other, it will be frustration and disappointment in the post-game clubhouse. Though Boston has been hot as of late, my Yankees have been hotter. With Gerrit Cole on the bump and Bronxie working magic from the dugout, the Bronx Bombers will get yet another shot to down their nemesis from Tampa Bay in this postseason. Yankees advance.
NL Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Speaking of hot teams, no one had a better month of September than the Cardinals, who rode a 17-game winning streak to earn the right to play in LA against what many consider to be the MLB’s best team. The pitching matchup — 37 year old Max Scherzer vs. 40 year old Adam Wainwright — feels like a throwback to 2013, but both have been nothing short of dominant this season, even at their advanced ages. I’ll be pulling for St. Louis to continue their miraculous run, but the fire-power of the Dodgers lineup will win them this game and keep their World Series dreams alive. Dodgers advance.
ALDS: Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros
With all the attention focused on the wild card races, these two teams that locked up their divisions weeks ago have been momentarily forgotten. That will change quickly, as I expect this to be the closest and most fiercely contested series in the divisional round. Along with MLB fans everywhere, I’ll be rooting for the White Sox to stick it to the Astros (if I don’t see trash cans in the bleachers at Guaranteed Rate Field I’ll be very disappointed). Houston all but coasted through the AL West again, but I see Chicago as the most complete team in the AL. White Sox in 5.
ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Yankees will be hungry for revenge, as Tampa Bay has dominated them in both the regular and postseason for several years running. Kevin Cash and his staff have done an admirable job, as usual, managing their talented stables (I mean, bullpen) but one thing jumps out about this Rays team: a clear lack of starting pitching. Ryan Yarbrough and Shane McClanahan can only get this team so far against the ever-dangerous Bronx Bombers. Yankees in 4.
NLDS: Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The NL East was supposed to be the most competitive division in baseball this season, but ultimately the Braves were able to weather the storm better than their competitors to steal the division with just 88 wins. Atlanta still boasts a solid club, but missing their ace (Mike Soroka) and their MVP candidate (Ronald Acuña Jr.) will finally catch up to them. The Brewers, meanwhile, have the nastiest trio of starting pitchers in the league and a lineup that can put up runs when necessary. Brewers in 4.
NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Last but not least, a final showdown between NL West foes. A referendum on talent versus heart, on money versus grit. The Giants have been the best story in baseball this season, managing to wrest both the season series and, most impressively, the division away from the Dodgers’ vice-grip. A ragtag team of old players deemed “washed-up” by the experts, I desperately want to see the Giants take down Goliath. Although it seems like a long-shot, San Francisco has been beating the odds all season. Let’s see it continue. Giants in 5.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.