Aww, hell yeah! It’s playoff baseball time. With the Wild Card games all finished up, we get to the division series. I love baseball and I love the playoffs. Everything they’ve done with the playoffs has been great and honestly this year will not be any different. You see, this postseason is comprised of some of the best young players in the game today. Seriously, list the best players in baseball that are under 27 years old. I’d say other than Mike Trout, the rest of the top ten are playing in the playoffs. That’s why this is going to be a fucking awesome October. Let’s take a look at the American League Divisional Series’ storylines, players to watch and then I’ll make some picks.
Red Sox vs Astros
Houston Strong. In 2013, the Boston Marathon Bombings brought the city of Boston together and the Red Sox were the anchor of that city throughout the entire season. Now with Houston enduring tragedy with Hurricane Harvey, will Houston ride the emotional momentum through the playoffs? This certainly has the makings of a great story.
Which Red Sox Will Show Up? Will it be the Red Sox that can’t hit, can’t pitch, can’t field, and can’t run the bases? Or will it be the Red Sox that dominate every aspect of the game? The Sox are not the best team in the AL, but there have been times this year where they looked like they could kick the shit out of any team. There have also been times when they’ve looked like they’ve never seen live pitching before.
Players to Watch
For Houston, basically their whole team. The Astros are a tough team to hate, but if there’s a couple players you want to keep an eye on, I’d recommend the guy who should be the AL MVP this year in Jose Altuve, as well as a guy who very well could have been the AL MVP this year had he not gotten injured in Carlos Correa. Two guys that are probably a bit less known to look at is the ‘Stros 23-year old third baseman Alex Bregman and their young closer Ken Giles. Bregman slashed .284/.352/.475 this year and popped 19 homers while driving in 71 runs all while hitting towards the bottom of the lineup. He also started to heat up again towards the end of the regular season and was MASHING at Fenway in their final series. Giles was the former Phillies top prospect who had a cup of coffee with the Phils before being the centerpiece of what at the time looked like an exchange of prospects. This year, he appeared in 64 games and saved 34 with a 2.30 ERA and a WHIP of 1.04. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of the playoff lights.
For Boston, again there’s a lot of guys to watch. First is Chris Sale. It’ll be Sale’s first taste of playoff baseball. After an absolutely dominant first half, Sale came back down to Earth over the second half of the season and has been a bit inconsistent over his last few starts. He’ll get the ball Game 1. David Price is another pitcher on the Red Sox roster to keep an eye on. He’ll be used out of the bullpen as the Sox will look to catch lightning in a bottle as the Indians did with Andrew Miller last year. Price has made five appearances out of the bullpen and has looked very good. Over 8 ⅔ innings he’s given up no runs, 2 walks, 3 hits, and struck out 13. The Sox are full of young offensive weapons that are incredibly dangerous when they’re hitting. If there’s one guy I would pick to keep an eye on the most, it’d be the dude everyone thought would be Rookie of the Year coming into 2017: Andrew Benintendi. Benny Baseball has been the number three hitter for most of the second half of the year and has had a great season. If it wasn’t for Aaron Judge’s ridiculous season, Benintendi would probably be your ROY. The other reason I’d keep on eye on him is that last year in the playoffs when the Red Sox didn’t hit, Benintendi was really the only guy that did. He hit .333 with a double and a homer in last season’s ALDS.
As much as I’d love to say the Sox, the Astros are so fucking good. They have better and more consistent pitching and a better and more consistent offense right now. However, look for the Red Sox to run, and run a lot. They’ve been an uncharacteristically good base stealing team this year and the Astros have been very bad at throwing runners out. This is probably the reason why the Sox left Chris Young off the roster for Rajai Davis. The Astros are really good and were my pick to win it all at the All Star Break, but I don’t think the Sox will just roll over so I’ll say Astros in 5.
Yankees vs Indians
Unfinished Business. Everyone knows the Indians took the Cubs to the brink last season in what has been called by some the greatest World Series game ever played. Losing Game 7 on their turf, in extra innings stung. Can the Indians, who were the World Series favorites coming into the postseason, come back and win in 2017?
The Young Yanks: Can the new, younger Yankees that showed up a year earlier than expected make a legitimate run at the World Series? Will Judge’s monster season spillover to the postseason? Will Gary Sanchez finally learn how to catch a fucking baseball? (Okay sorry, I’ll try and make that the only biased part of this blog, but seriously I hate the Yankees. I hate how people are calling them “fun” and all that shit. They stole the goddamn fake interviews after home runs from the Cubs by the way. Okay, end of rant)
Players to Watch
Cleveland has a lot of good players. A lot of people know about Francisco Lindor who is defensively one of the best shortstops in baseball. Offensively, for his size he’s got some great pop, hitting 33 homers and driving in 89. Like I said, a lot of people know Lindor, but the guy who really makes this team go is third baseman Jose Ramirez. Ramirez is so fucking valuable because he can play almost any position, though this year he stuck mostly to second and third. He hit .318 with a .957 OPS this year and is an MVP candidate. Center fielder Bradley Zimmer is also a guy I’m intrigued by. He got his first real taste of MLB in last year’s postseason and actually played pretty well. Obviously the Indians have pitching up the ass with Kluber, Carasco, Bauer, Tomlin, and then Shaw and of course Andrew Miller out of the bullpen. All those guys are very fun to watch.
The goddamn Yankees have oodles of young talent headed by Judge and Sanchez. Both of those mother fuckers can hit and hit and hit and it pisses me the hell off. This team can put up runs and they did have the second best run differential in the league this year to only the Indians (albeit by almost 60 runs). Now one guy that most people outside of New York don’t know about to look out for is Chad Green out of the bullpen. This could be the guy that is used in a Andrew Miller-esque role this year. He’s had a very good season with an 0.74 WHIP and an ERA at 1.75. His K/BB ratio is over 6, and his slider is fucking nasty. If you are a Yankee hater like me, he’s the perfect guy to really really hate because he comes in, does his job, has a really punchable face, and his name is Chad.
It does kind of feel like the Yankees are catching fire at the right time, and playing with that “nothing to lose” attitude is always a positive, and maybe the pressure of “World Series or bust” will get to the Indians… Buuuut the Indians are just too fucking good. I think it’ll be a competitive series, but in the end, Indians in 5.
Whatever, a guy can hope for two five game series…