Disclaimer: By the time this story is published, the LCS picture may be completed, or very close to it. As such, the teams that are discussed are still in the playoff picture at the time this article was written, though that may not be the case by Wednesday, Oct. 11.
It is the most wonderful time of the year for baseball fans, as playoff baseball has begun. The 2017 postseason is especially exciting for a variety of reasons, some being the historic 22-game winning streak set by the Cleveland Indians, several Cy Young-worthy years by pitchers in both the American and National Leagues, three teams entering the post-season with 100-plus wins and the ever-present chance that any team can win it all.
The AL East put forward the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees as contenders, following the Yankees’ 8-4 victory in the wild card game against the Minnesota Twins. Armed with a lethal bullpen and the impossible-to-ignore Aaron Judge, the Yankees look to overcome a 2-1 game deficit against the Cleveland Indians, following one of the year’s more exciting games on Friday night, which Cleveland managed to edge out with a 13th inning walkoff hit by catcher Yan Gomes. However, with the series returning to New York on Sunday, the Yankees edged out the Indians in a pitching duel to win it 1-0, giving them a stay of execution before Monday night’s game.
Boston struggled mightily against the red-hot Houston Astros in the first two games of the series in Houston, losing both games 8-2. Though they put up a fight, winning Game 3 in a resounding 10-3 victory, the Red Sox were eliminated Monday following a close 5-4 game, making the Astros the first team to move onto the ALCS.
Speaking of the Astros, they’ve looked unstoppable coming into the playoffs, and have continued to do so in the first two games. Lead by AL MVP frontrunner Jose Altuve and a completely rejuvenated Justin Verlander, the Astros look hungrier than they have in months, and it could not have come at a better time. With the likely prospect of playing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, the two titans will look to battle it out for the chance to head to the World Series.
Following a dominant first game led by Cleveland pitching, and a 13-inning nail biter in the second one, the Cleveland Indians have one thing on their mind: redemption. After a devastating World Series loss that ended the Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought, they look to right the wrongs of the past and win it all this year. Since the All-Star break ended, the Indians have looked nearly unstoppable and are among the current favorites to win it all. With the pitching, offense and managing firing on all cylinders, it will be their series to lose should they face the Houston Astros.
The National League has been back and forth like a ship on a stormy sea this year, with new favorites emerging seemingly every month. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who at one point in the season looked on track to win over 110 games, scuffled for the last month of the season, losing 11 straight games mostly to division rivals. However, they’ve looked just like their old self in the first two games of the series, soundly beating the Diamondbacks in both games.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who have surprised everyone by having a stellar season, defeated the Colorado Rockies 11-7 in a slugfest to claim the Wild Card game, look to be struggling with their pitching this postseason. They have collectively given up 24 runs in the first three games, with the offense trying to pick up the slack by scoring 21 collective runs. However, if the starting pitching and bullpen cannot lock things down when they head back to Arizona on Monday, they will be looking at a short postseason.
The last series, the Chicago Cubs facing off against the Washington Nationals, looks to be the most even series out of the LDS round this postseason, and is currently tied at 1-1. The pitching staff on both teams has been handling most of the load, each giving up six runs between the two games. Kyle Hendricks looked especially strong in Game 1, helping to hold the Nationals to only two hits the entire game. If any series will go down to the wire, this would be the one to do it.
With several deserving teams battling it out, only time will tell who will move on to the World Series. No matter who it is, October baseball is here, and looks to keep fans on the edge of their seats until the final out.