Commentary: And The World Series Champion will be the…

As the ALCS and NLCS begin, the four teams left in the playoffs each have the opportunity of being World Series Champions. What are each team’s chances?


The Houston Astros

The Astros have been one of baseball’s most consistent teams all year, winning 106 regular season games. Following a first-round bye, the Astros swept the division rival Seattle Mariners. While none of the games were blowouts, they showed signs of offensive firepower early in the series, scoring 12 runs over the first two games of the series. Except for a sloppy Game 1 showing for Astros ace Justin Verlander, the pitching staff stifled the Mariners.The Astros have one of the most well-rounded rosters in all of baseball, built with players from prior deep playoff runs and trade deadline acquisitions like Christian Vazquez and Trey Mancini. On top of that breakout rookie star Jeremy Pena has been a key addition to the offense. It’s clear they are in a position to succeed. While many fans still hate the Astros for the sign-stealing scandal of 2017 , it’s undeniable they are the favorites to win it all this year.

The New York Yankees

Two words: Aaron Judge. Having the best hitter in baseball usually benefits your team.Though he’s had his struggles this postseason, all it takes is one swing to figure it out. The rest of the lineup hasn’t been overwhelmingly hot this postseason either, but they’ve managed to be an above-average hitting team. Their pitching, however, has been their strong suit, near the top in almost every major team pitching stat. Led by Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes, the rotation is a force to be reckoned with. Pair that with a quality bullpen, and the Yankees pitching staff can carry them the rest of the way. They have to face a difficult Astros team, but if they get hot at the right time, the Yankees can be the most dangerous team of the four.


The San Diego Padres

The Padres have had high expectations for years now. Since signing Manny Machado to a $300+ million contract and the emergence of Fernando Tatis Jr., they’ve been due to make a deep playoff run. The only thing standing in their way was the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. At the trade deadline, the Padres sold their farm system to bring in key pieces for this run, including closer Josh Hader, who struggled in the early part of the season, but has regained his superstar form, switch hitting slugger Josh Bell and Juan Soto, perhaps baseball’s best overall hitter. With these acquisitions and the well-built roster they already had, they finally blew through the only roadblock from years past, beating the Dodgers 3-1 in the NLDS. Now, that’s impressive enough. Pair that with the fact they had just beaten the Mets in the Wild Card round without Fernando Tatis Jr. makes this feat all the more impressive. With a starting rotation that has looked like one of baseball’s best, the Padres could very well be the scariest team left in the postseason.

The Philadelphia Phillies

“We’re talking about the Fightin’s.” After an 11-year postseason drought, the Phillies have returned in spectacular fashion. They first went into St. Louis and swept the Cardinals 2-0, barely breaking a sweat. They then traveled to Atlanta to face the reigning champion Braves, who had a first-round bye after winning their fifth straight NL East title. The Phillies came out swinging, lighting up ace Max Fried by scoring six runs against him. After a Game 2 loss, both teams traveled to the City of Brotherly Love, whose last postseason memory was Ryan Howard writhing in pain as the last out was made by the Cardinals in 2011. Oh boy, did the Philly faithful show up. Both games were packed houses and the Phillies gave them a show, beating the Braves 9-1 and 8-3, giving the Phillies their first NLCS spot since 2010. The Phillies have faced so much adversity this season, switching managers mid-season, losing Jean Segura and Bryce Harper for months due to injury and inconsistency, but this hasn’t stopped them. The emergence of Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott, the pitching staff finding its stride, superstar bats coming up with timely hits and a fanbase foaming at the mouth for a championship makes the Philadelphia Phillies the hottest team left in the postseason.

ALCS Prediction: Astros win 4-1

Baseball fans will see a rematch from the 2017 and 2019 ALCS that will have the same results, hopefully without the cheating scandal this time. The x-factor of this series is who can stay consistent, and the Yankees have struggled with that. New York’s season was a tale of two halves. After a 64-28 start to the year, the team only broke even in the second half at 35-35. While they managed to get past the Guardians in five games, the matchup with the Astros doesn’t favor the Yankees. With breakout pitcher Nestor Cortes pitching Game 5 of the ALDS, he most likely won’t start until either Game 3 or 4. MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge has looked terrible this postseason, tallying only four hits while striking out 11 times against the Guardians. Lastly, this series just finished on Tuesday due to rainouts. That left the Yankees facing a quick turnaround, having to travel to Houston to play Wednesday. All signs point towards the Astros dominating this series, so I have them beating the Yankees again in the ALCS.

NLCS Prediction: Padres win 4-3

Being a Phillies fan, it pains me to say the Padres will win the National League pennant. Pitching will be the x-factor of the series, and I think the depth favors the Padres. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell have Games 1 and 2, facing Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, and those games can go either way. Game 3 will most likely be Joe Musgrove for the Padres and Ranger Suarez for the Phillies, so advantage Padres. Game 4 would most likely mean Mike Clevinger would throw for San Diego. For the Phillies, it would be similar to Game 4 of the NLDS, with Noah Syndergaard going for three innings, followed by a bullpen game. Though I don’t believe it will be easy for either squad, I think the Padres have just a slight edge, and home field advantage will play in their favor. San Diego will win in seven games, playing for their first World Series championship in franchise history.

World Series Prediction: Astros win 4-2

It won’t be this year for the Padres to win their first World Series. Consistency is key, and no team has been more consistent than the Astros. As good as the Padres rotation is, the Astros have been more consistent. Justin Verlander, a Cy Young Award candidate this year, has been on more postseason runs than the Padres rotation combined. Framber Valdez was the definition of consistency, breaking the streak for most quality starts with 25 straight. Lance McCullers has looked sharp since returning from the injured list in mid-August. I think the x-factor of this series is experience and with many of the Astros having been here only five seasons ago, as well as a few players having experienced a World Series run on other teams, Houston is best suited to win it all this year.

Editor’s Note: As of publication time, the Astros lead the ALCS 1-0, while the NLCS is tied 1-1.

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