Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
A team that won its first World Series in 108 years last season, a team that hasn’t made the Fall Classic since 1988, a team that has won 27 championships and a team that is looking for its first make up the quartet of rosters remaining in the MLB playoffs.
Here’s a look at the remaining playoff schedule, alongside picks for the American League Championship Series, the National League Championship Series and the World Series.
American League Championship Series
Game 3 (Houston at New York): Monday, October 16 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1
Game 4 (Houston at New York): Tuesday, October 17 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1
*Game 5 (Houston at New York): Wednesday, October 18 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1
*Game 6 (New York at Houston): Friday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1
*Game 7 (New York at Houston): Saturday, October 21 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1
Houston Astros starters Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander combined for 16 innings of one-run ball and 23 strikeouts against the Yankees in Games 1 and 2, respectively.
The Yanks might get to the other starters on their pitching staff, but they’re slated to face Keuchel and Verlander once more each time should the series stretch to six games.
Unless the Yankees somehow break out against one of the two aces, it’s hard seeing the Bronx Bombers defeating either pitcher.
The one distinct advantage the Yankees have over the Astros is the bullpen. New York’s is deep and one of the best in baseball, while Houston’s finished just 17th in the majors in ERA.
If the Yankees take the next two games and somehow draw even on the nights they face Keuchel and Verlander, then they have the advantage. That being said, New York’s starters might have to be near perfect to pull off that feat, and that’s asking too much.
The Yankees have had a great and unexpected run this season, but Keuchel and Verlander will finish the Bronx Bombers at the tail end of a six-game series.
Pick: Astros in 6
National League Championship Series
Game 3 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Tuesday, October 17 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS
Game 4 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Wednesday, October 18 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS
*Game 5 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Thursday, October 19 at 8 p.m. ET. on TBS
*Game 6 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Saturday, October 21 at 4 p.m. ET. on TBS
*Game 7 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Sunday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on TBS
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 National League Championship Series lead thanks to a game-winning home run from Justin Turner in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday.
L.A. will look to use that momentum as the series shifts toward Chicago for at least two more games (and potentially three).
Expect the Cubs crowd to be raucous in favor of the home side, especially if they jump out to an early lead. That’s a decided advantage for home teams in the playoffs provided they have fans who will be loud all game.
Look for Chicago to take Game 3 behind the strong pitching of Kyle Hendricks, who allowed just 17 home runs and pitched to a 3.03 ERA this year.
However, the Dodgers look like they have the advantage in Game 4 when Alex Wood takes the mound. Wood’s ability to induce ground balls while striking out nearly a batter per inning has been remarkable, and he’s earned a 2.72 ERA along the way in addition to an All-Star appearance.
He’ll shut down the Cubs in Game 4, and then look for Clayton Kershaw to close out the series in Game 5. Kershaw has had trouble with the long ball in the playoffs (five in two games), but he’s still the best pitcher this decade. In a closeout game, it’s hard to bet against him.
Pick: Dodgers in 5
Game 1: Tuesday, October 24 on FOX
Game 2: Wednesday, October 25 on FOX
Game 3: Friday, October 27 on FOX
Game 4: Saturday, October 28 on FOX
*Game 5: Sunday, October 29 on FOX
*Game 6: Tuesday, October 31 on FOX
*Game 7: Wednesday, November 1 on FOX
World Series Prediction
The Astros’ deep and balanced roster has given opposing pitchers fits all season.
Everyone in their lineup, from batters one through nine, can hit for power. Their top three hitters (Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer) were All-Stars, and Altuve might end up being the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
Two other regulars (Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez) hit over .300. Yuli Gurriel nearly joined them but fell just short at .299. Eleven players smacked 12 or more home runs.
Overall, they finished first in numerous hitting categories (e.g. batting average and runs) and took second in homers.
Houston’s lineup will suit the Astros well when playing in National League ballparks, as they have numerous options on both sides of the plate in pinch-hitting situations when manager A.J. Hinch decides to take out his pitcher or make a substitution.
That will be the difference in a series against the Dodgers, who have a deeper pitching staff but can’t match the Astros in terms of their tremendous ability to hit for power and average.
Pick: Astros in 6