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AP Photograph/Gregory Bull
Now that Main League Baseball’s commerce deadline has come and gone, all postseason contenders need to do is get so far as they will.
Within the meantime, let’s take a whack at predicting which groups will get the furthest.
Forward are our picks for not solely which groups will find yourself making the 2022 playoffs, however how the precise postseason will unfold from there. We made these by weighing the influence of recent additions and the rest that might tip the stability of the scales in query.
Oh, and in case anybody’s forgotten, there is a new playoff format this season.
The sphere for the American League and Nationwide League has been expanded from 5 groups to 6, with the highest three seeds for division winners and the opposite three for wild playing cards. The 2 golf equipment with one of the best data in every league will get byes within the first spherical whereas the opposite 4 groups battle it out in three-game sequence. There is no such thing as a reseeding after that.
Now that everybody’s all caught up, allow us to gaze into the crystal ball.
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- Houston Astros: AL West Champion
- New York Yankees: AL East Champion
- Minnesota Twins: AL Central Champion
- Toronto Blue Jays: AL East Runner-Up
- Seattle Mariners: AL West Runner-Up
- Cleveland Guardians: AL Central Runner-Up
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs
Although the Yankees nonetheless have a 1.5-game lead on the Astros for the highest spot within the American League, that lead has been dwindling for some time and FanGraphs now has the Astros projected to win extra video games.
The Astros’ remaining schedule is the primary benefit they’ve of their favor. Whereas the Yankees have a troublesome slate that features 16 video games in opposition to the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, there’s nothing resembling a gauntlet on the horizon for Houston.
With a mere 1.5-game lead over Cleveland within the AL Central, the Twins certainly envy the double-digit leads that the Yankees and Astros have within the AL East and AL West, respectively. But the Twins additionally did properly to metal themselves for the stretch run with offers for hurlers Tyler Mahle, Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, whereas the Guardians stood pat.
On the plus facet for the Guardians, they’ve 16 video games in opposition to the lowly Detroit Tigers and Kansas Metropolis Royals to stay up for. No such luck for the Rays, who’re already scuffling and are nonetheless 24 video games in opposition to the Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros.
Toronto and Seattle, in the meantime, usually appear protected within the prime two wild-card slots. Each golf equipment ought to make the playoffs, which sources say could be kind of a big deal for Seattle.
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- Los Angeles Dodgers: NL West Champion
- New York Mets: NL East Champion
- St. Louis Cardinals: NL Central Champion
- San Diego Padres: NL West Runner-Up
- Atlanta: NL East Runner-Up
- Philadelphia Phillies: NL East Runner-Runner-Up
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Photographs
Although the Dodgers aren’t fairly operating away with the highest seed within the Nationwide League, we’re not about to guess in opposition to any group that is on tempo for 111 wins. Sure, even when mentioned group could also be with out Clayton Kershaw for some time after he left his begin on Thursday with back pain.
The true drama within the Senior Circuit proper now could be within the NL East, the place the Mets lead Atlanta by 4.5 video games, and the NL Central, the place the Milwaukee Brewers are tied with the Cardinals for first place. The latter two golf equipment have seven head-to-head contests remaining, whereas New York and Atlanta will play one another 11 extra occasions.
New York Mets @Mets
POLAR POWER 🐻❄️💣 pic.twitter.com/mDytXhYbtX
Most notably together with 13 video games in opposition to the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Mets nonetheless have it simpler than Atlanta outdoors of these head-to-head video games. Ditto for the Cardinals in comparison with the Brewers. On St. Louis’ schedule are 25 contests in opposition to the Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.
With Atlanta and the Padres in any other case in place to simply nab the highest two wild-card spots, the one different dramatic race at play right here is that for the NL’s sixth and ultimate playoff spot.
The Phillies are conserving tempo with St. Louis and Milwaukee and so they determine to get stronger in August and September. Initially, as a result of hurlers David Robertson and Noah Syndergaard headline a robust listing of trade-deadline upgrades. And later, as a result of two-time MVP Bryce Harper could return from a thumb damage earlier than the tip of August.
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Cleveland Guardians (6) vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
The Guardians have performed the Twins robust within the season sequence between the 2 groups, profitable six of 11 and outscoring Minnesota by 16 runs.
But there’s little query that the Twins are the stronger offensive group, notably within the energy division. They’ve out-homered Cleveland by 46 on the season. That will stand to be a bonus within the playoffs, the place it is tougher to string hits collectively.
After including starter Tyler Mahle and relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, Minnesota’s mound workers can be higher stocked than it was once. Factoring in that every one three video games of this sequence could be at Goal Subject, it might be onerous to guess in opposition to the Twins.
Twins in 3
Seattle Mariners (5) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (4)
Talking of home-field benefit within the new Wild Card Spherical, the Blue Jays stand to learn from that greater than another group. They’re 34-21 on the Rogers Centre—maybe with an help from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination policy—in comparison with 25-25 on the street, with the best home OPS this facet of the Colorado Rockies.
What might permit the Mariners to chop by this benefit is their beginning trio of Robbie Ray, Luis Castillo and Logan Gilbert. All three are overpowering on good days, a lot so that there is an argument about which ones ought to be Seattle’s Sport 1 starter.
But the Blue Jays can not less than counter with a robust duo of Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios is to not be underestimated as an X-factor. He began gradual, however he not too long ago discovered his footing with a 3.00 ERA in July.
Blue Jays in 3
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Philadelphia Phillies (6) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (3)
With Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in the course of their lineup and Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas on the forefront of their rotation, the Cardinals certainly have the star energy for a deep playoff run.
However in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phillies have not less than as many aces on their workers. These ones are sizzling, besides, having pitched to a mixed 2.46 ERA since June 8.
Along with Rhys Hoskins and Kyle Schwarber, a wholesome Harper additionally offers the Phillies three influence sluggers to the Cardinals’ two. Ought to Nick Castellanos ever rediscover his 2021 type, it might even be 4 to 2.
Phillies in 2
Atlanta (5) vs. San Diego Padres (4)
Atlanta is a group to beware, to make certain. The defending champs are primed for a robust end with hurlers Raisel Iglesias and Jake Odorizzi and outfielder Robbie Grossman newly aboard and Ozzie Albies due off the injured list within the close to future.
And but…Juan Soto! Manny Machado! And soon, Fernando Tatis Jr.! That is some form of lineup trio, and we’ve not even talked about that San Diego’s bullpen now options arguably baseball’s greatest reliever within the individual of Josh Hader.
Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja
Josh Hader of the San Diego Padres. pic.twitter.com/YHVohkBDtH
Soto particularly would stand to be the distinction on this sequence. He proved to be a big-game hitter within the 2019 playoffs, and he had been annihilating Atlanta pitching to the tune of a 1.260 OPS and 4 residence runs earlier than the Washington Nationals despatched him to San Diego.
Padres in 3
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Toronto Blue Jays (4) vs. Houston Astros (1)
Canada’s vaccination coverage would not essentially be a difficulty if the Blue Jays meet the Astros within the playoffs. The Astros didn’t have to put anyone on the restricted listing after they had been in Canada between April 29 and Could 1.
It will in any other case be lower than preferrred for Toronto that Houston would have home-field benefit anyway. Offensively, the Astros’ OPS at house is 37 factors higher at residence than on the street. The Blue Jays, in the meantime, lose 50 factors in OPS after they go on the street.
Protection could possibly be the opposite factor that decides this sequence. The Blue Jays are fielding the ball loads higher this yr than they did in 2021, however the Astros are the best there is at turning batted balls into outs.
Astros in 4
Minnesota Twins (3) vs. New York Yankees (2)
The Twins and Yankees in a playoff sequence? Cue Twins followers going, “Oh…oh no.”
The Bronx Bombers have won 16 of the 18 video games these two golf equipment have performed in October, together with 13 in a row relationship again to 2004. Issues had been, uh, completely different again then:
Sarah Langs @SlangsOnSports
The Twins’ final postseason win was ALDS Sport 1 at Yankee Stadium in 2004.
Listed below are the beginning lineups from that recreation. pic.twitter.com/uMR61rdbu9
Along with historical past, the Twins could be up in opposition to the Yankees’ unequalled home-field dominance (41-15 on the season) and unmatched capability to hit the lengthy ball (185). The Twins simply additionally aren’t superb outdoors the AL Central, the place they’ve gone 28-30.
Yankees in 3
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San Diego Padres (4) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
The Dodgers swept the Padres out of the 2020 playoffs and have since gained 17 of 26 contests between the 2 groups. The Padres would possibly nonetheless really feel like quoting Anakin Skywalker proper now: “My powers have doubled for the reason that final time we met.”
With 12 video games nonetheless to play between the Dodgers and Padres, the standard script between these two golf equipment might certainly be flipped in a serious approach down the stretch. For the Padres, it is an opportunity to place some actual worry into the hearts of the Nationwide League’s largest bully.
For now, although, the Dodgers nonetheless appear to be the higher group on paper.
Whereas San Diego’s lineup might be all about its huge three, there’s good depth beneath the Dodgers’ personal huge three of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner. Even sans Kershaw, the Dodgers additionally nonetheless have three starters with ERAs within the 2.00s. And with Walker Buehler, Blake Treinen and Dustin Could working their way again from accidents, Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts will quickly have much more pitching firepower to play with.
Dodgers in 4
Philadelphia Phillies (6) vs. New York Mets (2)
The season sequence between the Phillies and Mets has been totally dominated by the latter, who’ve gained 9 of 12 with a plus-22 benefit in runs scored.
The catch? All 12 of these video games occurred earlier than the Phillies confirmed former supervisor Joe Girardi the door on June 3. Underneath Rob Thomson, they have been a very completely different group in racking up a 35-19 file.
It is also not for nothing that the Phillies are a greater residence run-hitting group than the Mets, having out-homered them 134 to 110 even regardless of Harper’s absence and Castellanos’ slumping. If these two are clicking, the Phillies offense could possibly be an excessive amount of for the Mets.
And but, there is no discounting the influence that New York’s prime arms might have in a five-game sequence. If wholesome, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are merely one of the best one-two punch within the recreation. Then there’s Edwin Diaz, who’s averaging two strikeouts per inning this season.
Mets in 5
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New York Yankees (2) vs. Houston Astros (1)
The Yankees and the Astros within the American League Championship Sequence? One thing about that sounds acquainted…
Oh, proper. The 2 golf equipment met within the ALCS in 2017 after which once more in 2019. The Astros gained each sequence, although the ’17 victory was retroactively tarnished by a cheating scandal and a few suspect that Houston would possibly also have cheated within the ’19 sequence.
“You cheated and also you did not earn it.”
Aaron Choose mentioned the Astros ought to be stripped of their 2017 World Sequence title as a result of it would not “maintain any worth.” pic.twitter.com/IbGrWGQqsn
All of the extra purpose for the Yankees to need revenge, after all, however they have not appeared up the problem of getting any on the Astros this yr. Houston gained the season sequence 5-2, holding the Yankees’ high-powered offense to a .151 common and 22 runs within the course of.
Slightly than in Aaron Choose or any of the group’s different sluggers, the Yankees’ greatest hope of dispatching the Astros would possibly lie in aces Gerrit Cole and Frankie Montas. Each have dominated Houston over the past two seasons, with Cole posting a 1.17 ERA in three begins and Montas racking up a 2.21 ERA over six begins.
And but, the Astros having home-field benefit would reduce the Yankees’ largest edge. And whereas each golf equipment’ offenses draw walks and hit for energy, Houston’s stays higher at avoiding strikeouts. That is a recipe for a repeat of 2017 and 2019, whereby Yankees hitters had 10 games with double-digit strikeouts and Astros hitters solely had three such games.
Astros in 7
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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Photographs
New York Mets (2) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
There is no actual beef between the Mets and Dodgers, but the 2 golf equipment assembly within the Nationwide League Championship Sequence would nonetheless signify a juicy rematch.
The Mets and Dodgers performed a darn good sequence after they met within the 2015 NLDS, during which 4 of the 5 video games had been determined by three or fewer runs. It was deGrom who successfully determined the sequence, permitting two runs and hanging out 20 in Video games 1 and 5.
He is clearly nonetheless round, and the Dodgers have likewise felt the sting of his co-ace within the playoffs. Earlier than he grew to become a Dodger in 2021, Scherzer had tormented them as a member of the Nationals in 2016 and particularly in 2019.
Opposite to an NLDS matchup in opposition to the Phillies, nevertheless, whether or not deGrom, Scherzer and Diaz might carry a sequence in opposition to the Dodgers could be much less sure. These three are nice, however the area between them is not as crowded with as many proficient hurlers because the Dodgers have up and down a pitching workers that leads MLB with a 2.94 ERA.
Besides, the Dodgers offense is each extra explosive and extra environment friendly than that of the Mets. The Dodgers have 25 extra residence runs as a group and so they’re one of the best within the enterprise at scoring baserunners that they placed on.
Dodgers in 6
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Ronald Martinez/Getty Photographs
Houston Astros (1) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
The Astros and Dodgers within the World Sequence? This, too, sounds acquainted…
Ah, sure. The 2 famously met within the Fall Basic in 2017, which Houston gained in seven video games though each golf equipment scored precisely 34 runs within the sequence. Yu Darvish was initially the goat for Dodgers followers, till they discovered that the video games hadn’t been on the level.
Among the many issues which have occurred since then is a altering of the offensive equation between the Astros and Dodgers. In 2017, the Dodgers had been a good-not-great offensive group up in opposition to maybe the best offense since the Babe Ruth-led Yankees of the Nineteen Twenties and Nineteen Thirties. Lower to now, and the Dodgers have maybe the best offense of their historical past.
It is also not simply due to their pitching expertise that the Dodgers have likewise been a greater run-prevention group than the Astros in 2022. They’re the closest group to the Astros in defensive efficiency, and so they even have them beat in defensive runs saved.
The Dodgers would have nonetheless one other factor of their favor in the event that they maintain course and declare one of the best file within the majors. That will make Dodger Stadium, the place the Dodgers are 35-15, the first venue for the World Sequence.
Dodgers in 6
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