The Reds season obviously didn’t go as well as we would have hoped. That doesn’t mean we have to completely forget about baseball until pitchers and catchers report next February. The 2015 MLB postseason looks like it could bring a couple thrilling weeks. There are a bunch of former Reds playing, and six teams that didn’t make it to the postseason last year. That is why for the second consecutive year, I’ll bring you a preview of this years MLB Postseason, and predictions from the Redleg Nation crew.
AL Wild Card Game: Astros at Yankees
Tuesday, 8:00 PM (ESPN)
The first game of the MLB postseason should be a good one. Just two seasons ago, the Astros went 51-111. It has been an amazing rebuild for the Astros, but they will have the tough test of going into Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are back in the postseason after surprisingly missing the postseason the last two seasons.
The pitching matchup in this game should be a good one: Dallas Keuchel (33 GS, 2.48 ERA, 2.91 ERA, 6.1 fWAR) vs Masahiro Tanaka (24 GS, 3.51 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 2.2 fWAR). The left-handed Keuchel is one of the AL Cy Young front-runners, and he should have a major advantage against a Yankees lineup that features five lefties. Left-handed batters have a .198 wOBA vs Keuchel, which is the lowest number in the MLB. The question will be how much Keuchel has left in the tank, as he will be pitching on just three days rest. Tanaka has had an up and down 2015, and his FIP suggests that he was not really an ace this year. Tanaka does have a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts, with 24 K and just 2 BB.
The players to watch in the this game are the polarizing Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees, and Carlos Correa for the Astros. Rodriguez has a .926 OPS vs LHP in the 2015, so he will be very important against the tough lefty Keuchel. Carlos Correra will be an AL ROY finalist, and he has had an incredible 2015 season. The majority of the Astros hitters feast on LHP, but Correra has been great against both sides (.899 OPS vs LHP, .836 OPS vs RHP).
NL Wild Card Game: Cubs at Pirates
Wednesday, 8:00 PM (TBS)
The Pirates and Cubs finished with 98 and 97 wins, which was the second and third most in the entire MLB. It is pretty brutal that these two clubs have to play in a single-elimination game, but it should make from some great theater. This is the third consecutive year that the Pirates are hosting the NL Wild Card Game.
The pitching matchup in this game is as good as it gets: Jake Arrieta (33 GS, 1.77 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 7.3 fWAR) vs Gerrit Cole (32 GS, 2.60 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 5.4 fWAR). Arrieta posted an unbelievable 0.75 ERA in the second half, and will certainly be an NL Cy Young finalist. Arrieta has dominated the Pirates this season too, as he has a 0.75 ERA with 33 K and 5 BB in 5 starts this season. You shouldn’t count out Gerrit Cole though. Cole had a great year too, and he had a 2.13 ERA with 35 K and 4 BB in 4 starts against the Cubs this season.
It would be wise for both teams to have their #2 starters available to pitch in this game. Both Jon Lester and Fransisco Liriano are really good left-handed pitchers, and there could be a big situation for them to come into late in the game. It’s a do-or-die game, so you shouldn’t leave any bullets in the chamber.
The big question is how will the young Cubbies respond to this intense pressure. Reds fans know all about that pressure, as they had a “deer in the headlights” look in their first trip back to the postseason in 2010. Experience is something that is overrated in baseball, but the Pirates certainly have much more it than the Cubs.
ALDS: Yankees/Astros vs Royals
Game 1: Thursday at 7:37 or 8:07 (FOX Sports 1)
The Royals will get the winner of the Yankees/Astros. The Royals will know what it’s like for those teams, as just last season they played in the wild-card game before making a run to the World Series. The Royals finished with the best record in the AL at 95-67. The Royals however struggled down the stretch, going 11-17 in September, although they did go 4-0 in October.
The Royals big mid-season acquisition was Johnny Cueto from the Reds, and the transition to the AL has not gone so smoothly (13 GS, 4.76 ERA, 4.06 FIP). Ned Yost hasn’t announced his rotation yet, but all signs point to Yordano Ventura starting in Game 1, and Cueto in Game 2. Who would have ever thought that when Cueto was traded? Another former Red, Edison Volquez will likely go in Game 3. Volquez has been solid for the Royals in 33 starts (3.55 ERA, 3.82 FIP).
ALDS: Rangers vs Blue Jays
Game 1: Thursday, 3:37 or 4:07 (FOX Sports 1)
This will be a series of two teams who made huge moves at the trade deadline, and so far it has paid off. The Blue Jays went all-in when they acquired David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. The result was a 21-6 August and a 18-9 September. The Jays went from fighting for a wild-card spot to winning the AL East by 6.0 games (they were back 8.0 games on July 28th). The Rangers acquired Cole Hammels at the deadline. They went 38-22 after August 1st, and won the AL West on the final day of the regular season (they were 8.0 back on August 2nd).
The Blue Jays had a team 117 wRC+, which was 10% better than any other team in baseball. The Rangers for the season were in the middle of the pack, but they had the 9th best offense in the MLB in the second half (105 wRC+). The Rangers team ERA was 4.25, which was 23rd in the MLB. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers pitchers can find a way to slow down the big Jays lineup.
There a lot of Reds playing in this series. Edwin Encarnacion hits cleanup for the Jays. The Rangers finished off their AL West title on Sunday with three former Reds in the outfield: Josh Hamilton, Drew Stubbs, and Shin-Soo Choo.
|Chad Dotson||Blue Jays|
|Steve Mancuso||Blue Jays|
|Doug Gray||Blue Jays|
|Nick Kirby||Blue Jays|
|Kevin Mitchell||Blue Jays|
|Greg Gajus||Blue Jays|
|Taylor Ballinger||Blue Jays|
|Matthew Korte||Blue Jays|
|Mark Elliot||Blue Jays|
|Grant Freking||Blue Jays|
NLDS: Cubs/Pirates vs Cardinals
Game 1: Friday, 6:45 (TBS)
I covered just about everything you would need to know about these three teams in my NL Central Review yesterday. Whoever comes out of the wild-card game will be a big test for the Cardinals. Honestly, the Cardinals probably would much rather face the Mets in the NLDS. Cubs-Cardinals or Pirates-Cardinals should be a really exciting series that I would expect to go the distance.
NLDS: Mets vs Dodgers
Game 1: Friday, 9:45 (TBS)
Pitching, pitching, and pitching will dominate this series. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jacob DeGrom, and Matt Harvey will all start a game in this series. All four of those pitchers had an ERA of less than 2.71 this season. Matt Harvey is scheduled to pitch Game 3 in New York, so if the Mets can just find a way to steal a game in LA, they find themselves in a pretty good spot.
Don Matthingly is going to have some very tough decisions to make when penciling in his lineup. Yasiel Puig made a “miraculous” return, but he has only played in one game. Top-prospect Corey Seager (175 wRC+) has been incredible in the lineup mostly at SS since being called up, but Mattingly has the veteran Jimmy Rollins (80 wRC+). Plus, both Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson were both All-Stars this season, but Grandal has a .498 OPS in the second half, and Pederson has a .617 OPS.
The Mets lineup is much more set in stone than the Dodgers. The Mets offense is also much more formidable than you might have thought. They have six players with a 130 or better wRC+ (Cespedes, Duda, Wright, Granderson, Conforto, and d’Arnaud). Plus, Cuddyer and Murphy have had strong second half’s.
Former Red, Chris Heisey could see some time in this series, but likely as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, or defensive replacement if he makes the roster.
World Series Predictions
Last year, the RN guys really struggled with our picks. There were six writers who made picks last year, and no one had either World Series team. Greg Dafler did the best, as he had the Orioles and Giants making it to the LCS.
|Chad Dotson||Blue Jays over Pirates|
|Steve Mancuso||Dodgers over Blue Jays|
|Doug Gray||Blue Jays over Dodgers|
|Nick Kirby||Dodgers over Blue Jays|
|Greg Dafler||Royals over Dodgers|
|Kevin Mitchell||Dodgers over Blue Jays|
|Greg Gajus||Cubs over Blue Jays|
|Taylor Ballinger||Blue Jays over Dodgers|
|Matthew Korte||Dodgers over Blue Jays|
|Mark Elliot||Blue Jays over Cubs|
|Grant Freking||Pirates over Blue Jays|