Now that the Washington Nationals are pouting at home, contemplating why they’ve literally never been able to finish a playoff series, we can move past and ignore them, looking at the final four of Major League Baseball! Here are your Championship Series:
New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Hey, we here at Interjections aren’t the happiest about the New York Yankees are in the championship series, but we’re not going to use that to temper our expectations for the upcoming matchup. We may be Mets or Phillies fans here, but there’s no bias here, I swear. Bearing that in mind, I really do think Houston has a better team….on paper. New York has the more potent lineup, with the gargantuan Aaron Judge leading the crowd. Despite acting like the complete opposite from his regular season self, the team comes and goes by him – if he steps up, the Bronx Bombers may find their new hero in Judge. If not, several batters have been helping out – most notably Didi Gregorius, who nearly single-handedly pushed the Yankees past the Indians in Wednesday’s deciding ALDS game. If the pitchers can figure themselves out, particularly Luis Severino, who had a forgettable wild-card game against Minnesota by letting two homers fly from Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario, putting them in a hole early. He bounced back in game four, holding the Indians to three runs. Tanaka performed much better than his regular season version, while Aroldis Chapman actually held onto a save in the game 5 victory. If their pitchers can actually keep it together, we’ll see what happens.
I do think the Houston rotation is one of the best in the remaining four – you have Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton, all shining against the Red Sox. There was a fear that Lance McCullers wasn’t fine enough to return to the group after getting hit by a comebacker in game 3, but I think if healthy he’ll fare much better, just to prove naysayers wrong. Jose Altuve is tied with Gregorius for the postseason home run lead, with 3, so there’s all likelihood this will be a sharpshooting affair. I think overall though, the pitchers can handle the lineup, and Houston will come out on top with crafty baserunning and home run stamina. I’m thinking it’s close though, and we’ll have a thriller in Texas with Houston winning in 7.
Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
With a comeback for the ages, the Chicago Cubs stunned the Washington Nationals last night, winning their NLDS 3 games to 2. The Dodgers were a bit more alacritous, dispatching the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game sweep. With extra rest this week, the best pitcher in baseball will face off against those exhausted Cubbies, which should prove to be a blowout of sorts, unless Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles rear their ugly head once again. Annually, he’s one of the most surprisingly ineffective hurlers, but my feelings for tomorrow’s game lead me to believe he’ll redeem himself. If the Cubs have any longevity, they’re sure to face him again, which makes their situation even more dire. They’ll need clutch hits from players like Kyle Schwarber, mysteriously absent from much of the proceedings the past week. Leonys Martin and Javier Baez are struggling as well, though the slack has been picked up aggressively by Anthony Rizzo, who stands tall with 6 RBI. He and Kris Bryant should suit up admirably against their west-coast rivals.
This will be a re-match of last seasons NLCS, so expect recent history to haunt the Dodgers. While Kershaw ably shut down the Cubs in a matchup opposite Kyle Hendricks last time, Hendricks was nearly perfect in game six, combining with former closer Aroldis Chapman for a two-hit game. While Hendricks should show up as strong as he did last season, the worry here is the current bullpen. Wade Davis is quite a fine replacement for Chapman, but beyond him and Carl Edwards Jr, there is a lot of trepidation. Even Edwards and Davis were tagged for a run each in relief last night, so their health and rest will likely sway this series. On the Dodgers side, Kenta Maeda will need to play better than his regular season self, and Kenley Jansen is playing like never before. Rich Hill is still around, and really the only big addition is wunderkind Cody Bellinger. I’m calling this the best series of the postseason, and I’ve very intrigued to see where this goes. My guess is it finally goes Kershaw’s way and we get to see Los Angeles face-off against Houston. In a reversal of last season’s result, I’ll go with Los Angeles in 6.
Stay tuned early next week four basketball preview, and I’m sure within week we’ll know which of these four teams will be making history – Houston, so they can win a World Series for the first time after failing to win one in the National League, the Cubs to get back-to-back wins after not winning for a century, the Dodgers because Kershaw deserves to let this franchise win for the first time in 30 years, or the Yankees because God wanted 2017 to truly be the worst year?