Game-changing Hitters, Once-in-a-generation Pitching Will Make for Unforgettable 2017 MLB Postseason

MLB brackets for the 2017 season leading up until the World Series. Graphic provided by

Tyler Yakimisky, Sports Editor

In a season that included a new MLB winning streak record, magnificent rookies, multiple broken records and homeruns– a lot of homeruns, we now look forward to what should be another jaw-dropping, eventful 2017 postseason with some analyses and predictions.

 Washington Nationals: 2017 NL East Champions. Right fielder Bryce Harper, first-baseman Ryan Zimmerman, second-baseman Daniel Murphy, and pitchers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have made their 2017 season very memorable. They look to make it out of the NLDS for the first time as a franchise this year.

 Cleveland Indians: After losing to the Chicago Cubs in last year’s World Series, the Indians wanted revenge. They opened everyone’s eyes with their 22-game winning streak led by second-baseman and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, shortstop and MVP candidate Francisco Lindor, and the many stars in their outfield, such as Jay Bruce and Michael Brantley. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller– they get another shot at that elusive ring after winning the 2017 AL Central with a convincing 102-60 record.

 Houston Astros: One of the best teams in baseball all season has proven its legitimacy throughout it all. An MVP-caliber season from second-baseman Jose Altuve, another career-defining season from shortstop Carlos Correa, a comeback season from Dallas Keuchel, a second-life from Justin Verlander and an all-around outfield led by George Springer definitely put this team in the top three teams in the MLB. Your 2017 AL West Champs finished with a 101-61 record.

 Los Angeles Dodgers: They had the potential to set an all-time MLB regular season win record at the all-star break. They have many marquee players in shortstop Corey Seager, third-baseman Justin Turner, first-baseman Cody Bellinger, and pitcher Clayton Kershaw. However, injuries and cold streaks by hitters derailed this team as they got deeper into the season. This team still is arguably the best in baseball and has the potential to do a lot of damage in October after finishing atop the NL West with a league-best 104-58.

 Arizona Diamondbacks: Arizona is a sleeper pick by many people to make a deep run in October. Powered by right fielder J.D. Martinez, first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt, center-fielder A.J. Pollock, and pitcher Zack Greinke, this team sure is scary. After a hot second half for Martinez and the team in general, they head into this postseason starting with the NL Wild Card and a 93-69 record.

  Boston Red Sox: With so much history, so many young studs, and a mix of veterans, the Red Sox is one of the most interesting teams in the postseason. The outfield, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr, is among the best in baseball. However, their pitching rotation and bullpen has its woes. Chris Sale has been solid, but other than that, it has been a bumpy ride. They still managed to win the AL East with a 93-69 record.

 New York Yankees: A revamped, younger Yankees team has made its mark. Through a rebuild that was thought to take longer, the team put together a very successful season. Right fielder Aaron Judge, shortstop D.D. Gregorius, second-baseman Starlin Castro, and pitcher Luis Severino have been wonderful. From career highs to rookie home run records, this team is definitely fun to watch. A strong bullpen lead by Chad Greene, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman is very intimidating. A 91-71 record helped them push into the AL Wild Card.

 Colorado Rockies: The Mile High City. A ballpark that gives so many homeruns, leaves so many high ERA’s, and is so hitter-friendly definitely helped the Rockies during their 2017 season. The duo of center fielder Charlie Blackmon and third-baseman Nolan Arenado is one of the best in the bigs. However, after a poor second half and finishing with a 87-75 record, this team still grabbed the second NL Wild Card.

 Chicago Cubs: 108 years no more. After its first World Series win in 108 years, the Cubs put together a slightly less impressive 2017 season. However, it’s after a rough first half and injuries. The Cubbies are finally coming into form. Third-baseman Kris Bryant, first-baseman Anthony Rizzo, right fielder Jason Heyward, catcher Wilson Contreras, and pitcher Kyle Hendricks helped carry this team and shape the team into form. They repeated as NL Central champs with a 92-70 record and appear to be catching fire just at the right time.

 Minnesota Twins: 59-103. Yup, that was their 2016 record. It is extremely remarkable that the Twins were able to sneak into the postseason after such a disastrous 2016 season. Led by center fielder Byron Buxton, second-baseman Brian Dozier, and pitcher Ervin Santana, this team did one of the biggest turnarounds in all of sports history. Sure they may have a way to go, but these young studs helped post a 85-77 record and made the future look more bearable for Twins fans.

 AL Wild Card: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees: The Yankees will be hosting the Twins in this win-or- go-home matchup– a pitching matchup featuring Luis Severino versus Ervin Santana. Both pitchers put together great seasons, but with the Yankees having a stronger bullpen, they boast a stronger pitching staff. Also, with a lineup featuring Bronx bombers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have the edge in this matchup. Prediction: Yankees win 5-2.

 NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies: The Diamondbacks will be hosting the Rockies in this NL West showdown. Home Runs, bullpens and strong defenses helped these two teams take off during the season. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies face. J.D. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks. Although the Rockies may be up-and-coming, the Diamondbacks should win this back-and-forth affair 5-4.

 NLDS: Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals: This will be the best Division Series of the 2017 MLB playoffs. The Nationals look to make it out of the NLDS for the first time in franchise history while the Cubs look to defend their World Series championship. David meets Goliath in this matchup. Star-studded lineups will clash in what will be low-scoring games due to to pitching matchups like Kyle Hendricks versus Stephen Strasburg and Jon Lester versus Max Scherzer. Prediction: this series will go five games after multiple one-run wins. However, in the end, the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs will best the Nationals in game five 3-1.

 NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: The two top teams in the NL West meet each other in this matchup. This matchup is highly anticipated by many sports fans. Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill will prove to be too difficult for the Diamondbacks to overcome. Also, after taxing their bullpen in the wild card game versus the Rockies, the Dodgers will push through this series in four games.

 ALDS: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale versus Justin Verlander– it does not get much better than that with two top-three arms clashing in game one of this series. Sale will be too gassed, however, after carrying the Red Sox on his shoulders all season and will struggle in this game one matchup. The Red Sox will struggle to rebound from a game one loss and force the series to only four games where they will fall to the Astros 4-0 and watch them celebrate in their home park.

 ALDS: Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees: This may be the most lopsided matchup in the division series round. The Indians rank in the top three in the league in bullpen strength, lineup and starting rotation. The combination of all these aspects will prove to be too much for the young Yankees. Unfortunately, Aaron Judge and company will only last three games in this series, and like their division rival Red Sox, will lose in Yankee Stadium to the World Series favorite Cleveland Indians.

 NLCS: Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: A rematch of last year’s NLCS matchup. This matchup, however, will not be as jaw-dropping as last year. The Cubs, coming off an NLDS series win against the Nationals, will be too fatigued to put up a prolonged fight against the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw will beat the Cubs both times he plays them; then Darvish and Wood will get the other two victories. This series will go six games, all being lopsided victories by the winning team except the last game. The Dodgers will win this series, in Chicago 2-0 and advance to their first World Series since 1988.

 ALCS: Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians:  This will be the highest run-scoring series in MLB history. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion are all in one series. Can it get any better? It also will have pitching matchups like Justin Verlander versus Corey Kluber and Dallas Keuchel versus Carlos Carrasco. So many MVP candidates, so many CY young candidates. This series will definitely go the distance, taking all seven games. However, with Cleveland being hungrier than anyone this year, they will pull through in this best of seven with the Astros.

 World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cleveland Indians: It is very ironic that the two teams I hate the most ended up here. If I could’ve picked according to my heart, I would’ve had the Chicago Cubs versus Houston Astros here. But, statistically, these teams seem the most primed for a deep playoff run to the fall classic. They both have the formula for it as well– a strong bullpen plus a lineup that has virtually no holes. This series will be phenomenal. This would be the pinnacle of hypothetical World Series matchups. The NL’s best versus the AL’s best. However, this series will not be anywhere close to how dramatic last year’s Cub-Indians matchup was. In this series, the power arms in both team’s organizations will be able to silent the big bats which will warrant a very low-scoring series. Kluber versus. Kershaw, Carrasco versus Darvish, Bauer versus Hill and Miller versus Jansen– these are only a few of the marquee matchups this series will have in store. It will take seven games, no question. An unusual game seven setting in Los Angeles would make for a warmer temperature which would add to the anticipation even more. After a back and forth battle between the two team’s bullpens, Indians win. Yup, you heard me. Indians in seven, which effectively ends their World Series drought. Two straight years with two straight droughts ended.