Expert picks for the 2020 MLB playoffs

Jenna Harris September 28, 2020 7 No Comments

Expert picks for the 2020 MLB playoffs

The Washington Nationals didn’t make it into this yr’s MLB playoffs, so Major League Baseball will crown a distinct staff as champion in 2020. Can the Los Angeles Dodgers recover from the ultimate hurdle and take dwelling their first championship since 1988? Or might the Tampa Bay Rays win their first title after incomes simply their second pennant? Will the Cleveland Indians win their first World Series since 1948? Or will we see a whole shock, love the upstart Chicago White Sox or San Diego Padres, storming again from their profitable rebuilds?

We requested 30 of our MLB specialists — from ESPN.com, TV, Stats & Information and extra — to provide us their predictions: wild-card sequence winners, division sequence winners, league championship sequence winners and World Series winner.

Below are the vote totals together with evaluation from a few of our specialists.

National League wild-card sequence

No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers at No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers — Dodgers 30 votes, Brewers 0

No. 7 Cincinnati Reds at No. 2 Atlanta Braves — Reds 16, Braves 14

No. 6 Miami Marlins at No. 3 Chicago Cubs Cubs 20, Marlins 10

No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals at No. 4 San Diego Padres — Padres 27, Cardinals 3

American League wild-card sequence

No. 8 Toronto Blue Jays at No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays — Rays 29, Blue Jays 1

No. 7 Chicago White Sox at No. 2 Oakland Athletics — A’s 19, White Sox 11

No. 6 Houston Astros at No. 3 Minnesota Twins — Twins 21, Astros 9

No. 5 New York Yankees at No. 4 Cleveland Indians — Indians 20, Yankees 10

National League Division Series

NLDS No. 1: Dodgers 25, Padres 5

NLDS No. 2: Reds 11, Braves 9, Cubs 8, Marlins 1

Why are you selecting the Braves to get via the NLDS?

The Braves should get previous the Reds within the wild-card spherical — no simple task — however their high-powered offense ought to carry them previous the Cubs (or Marlins) within the NLDS. Last yr, it felt love the Atlanta lineup thinned out after Ronald Acina Jr., Freddie Freeman and the now departed Josh Donaldson, however with Acuna, Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud and Adam Duvall, you may have 5 gamers slugging over .500. Dansby Swanson bats ninth and he is a tricky out. Sure, the Atlanta rotation is skinny, however the bullpen has been strong and the Cubs’ offense has struggled all season and it isn’t love they’ve plenty of pitching depth behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. Braves in 5. — David Schoenfield

American League Division Series

ALDS No. 1: Rays 19, Indians 11, Yankees 2

ALDS No. 2: Twins 13, A’s 8, White Sox 6, Astros 3

Why are you selecting the Indians to get via the ALDS?

Outside of a mid-September stretch when the Indians collectively forgot how one can play baseball and misplaced eight video games in a row, they have been pretty much as good as anybody within the American League many of the season. I’m of the assumption that Cleveland has the most effective pitching employees on this postseason, interval. Tampa Bay may truly be No. 2 total there, so I count on plenty of low-scoring video games. And whereas their offense is not going to win many slugfests, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor & Co. have a penchant for coming via late in shut video games. — Dan Mullen

National League Championship Series

Dodgers: 24
Padres: 3
Reds: 2
Braves: 1

Why did you decide the Padres to win the NLCS?

One of 2020’s most enjoyable groups to observe had a tough last week of the common season with accidents placing the standing of Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger up within the air for the postseason, however that should not put a dent in Slam Diego’s probabilities at making a World Series run. The rotation will lean on the loves of Chris Paddack and Zach Davies for sturdy innings ought to Lamet and Clevinger not be at full energy, and so they’ll rely on relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Drew Pomeranz — who each had sturdy seasons — to assist overcome any potential beginning pitching shortcomings. I count on this postseason to be chaotic with the introduction of the best-of-three first spherical, however San Diego boasts the second-best run differential in baseball and is using on the backs of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. I count on this staff to make a robust run. — Joon Lee

American League Championship Series

- Expert picks for the 2020 MLB playoffs
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rays: 15
Indians: 6
Twins: 4
White Sox: 2
Yankees: 2
A’s: 1

Why did you decide the White Sox to win the ALCS?

Don’t let that No. 7 seed idiot you, these White Sox are actually good. Sure, it is a bit of a feast-or-famine lineup — however postseason video games usually come right down to the lengthy ball, and Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez can all change a recreation with one swing of the bat. They have a one-two punch on the high of the rotation in Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel and there are some nasty very young arms love 2020 draft decide Garrett Crochet and Codi Heuer in that bullpen. — Dan Mullen

World Series

- Expert picks for the 2020 MLB playoffs
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

Dodgers: 16
Rays: 6
Twins: 2
Padres: 1
A’s: 1
Indians: 1
White Sox: 1
Yankees: 1

Why are the Dodgers your decide to win the World Series?

The Dodgers completed the 2020 season with the fourth-best run differential per recreation since 1900, though three of their most necessary hitters — Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson — struggled mightily via most of it. The Dodgers’ depth and expertise stays unmatched. They’re as prone to the randomness of a brief sequence as anyone, however they function a deep and versatile bullpen this yr, a serious benefit provided that there shall be no days off inside the Division Series and Championship Series. That may find yourself being the important thing distinction. — Alden Gonzalez

The 2020 playoff event is a crapshoot, extra so than any postseason in baseball historical past. That’s attributable to a mixture of the best-of-three first spherical and the truth that all 16 groups should survive 4 rounds earlier than they’ll hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy. Nevertheless, there’s merely no motive to select towards the Dodgers. Los Angeles may need challenged the all-time win file if the season had been a traditional size. If you suppose you see a deadly flaw in that roster, you are overthinking it. — Bradford Doolittle

The harm to Corbin Burnes offers them a good wild-card matchup. Their depth is sufficient to overwhelm whomever they play within the division sequence. And when the seven-game sequence begin, it is just too onerous to not wager on the Dodgers’ deluge of expertise. This is a particular staff. There are issues concerning the again finish of their bullpen, and it might nicely lose them a recreation or two. But the Dodgers have spent years constructing towards this second. And the spotlight of Kirk Gibson limping across the bases and pumping his fist shall be changed by Mookie Betts or A.J. Pollock or Corey Seager or Cody Bellinger or Will Smith or somebody in that gifted lineup that lastly will get them one other ring. — Jeff Passan

I do know, going out on a limb right here. The Dodgers have been my preseason decide again in March and there’s no motive to vary now. They scored essentially the most runs in our 60-game dash and solely Cleveland allowed fewer (by simply 4). They have been second in rotation ERA, second in aid ERA, hit essentially the most dwelling runs, had the second-most defensive runs saved and gained essentially the most video games (with the very best profitable share because the ’54 Indians). There are the most effective staff and this, lastly, shall be their yr. — Schoenfield

Why are the Padres your decide to win the title?

The Padres are basically tied for first with the White Sox and Dodgers in FanGraphs offensive WAR, which incorporates hitting, baserunning and protection for the entire staff. On the pitching aspect, they’re someplace within the high 5 – 6 relying in your metric of selection. A key separator is that these are full-season numbers whereas the Friars haven’t any main accidents from key 2020 contributors and the staff additionally dramatically improved on the commerce deadline. Their high two starters — Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet — are each trending towards being obtainable for his or her first-round begins, but it surely’s within the cautiously optimistic realm as of Sunday night time.

The playoffs will see extra weight on the highest three starters, finest relievers and core hitters, the place the Padres have concentrated extra worth all through the yr. Playing with much less relaxation, youth and enthusiasm are additionally keys, which Slam Diego leads the league in. Even in spite of everything of these small edges of their favor on high of the floor stats, they’re nonetheless mainly a coinflip with the Dodgers for the most effective staff within the playoffs in my e-book, however I give the Padres a slight edge. — Kiley McDaniel

Why did you decide the Rays to win all of it?

The Rays have been my preseason World Series decide, and I’m going to remain constant right here. Tampa Bay began the season out a bit sluggish however managed to climb atop the AL East with sturdy seasons from gamers love Brandon Lowe, a bounce-back from former Cy Young award winner Blake Snell and an all the time adaptable, ever-changing bullpen that includes sturdy performances from Ryan Yarbrough, Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo, amongst others. I believed within the roster-building and front-office philosophies of the group coming into the yr, which finest positioned the Rays to benefit from the idiosyncrasies and maximize the efficiency of a roster throughout this 60-game season. I see no motive to shift away from that as this first-place staff marches into the postseason. — Lee

Why did you decide the Indians to win all of it?

Start with the most effective pitcher within the sport in Shane Bieber, and on the times he doesn’t pitch, there’s a deep, well-run bullpen with myriad strikeout choices. The offense is top-heavy however these high choices will be nice, led by Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. I believe it’s Cleveland’s time to get again to the Series and edge the Dodgers. — Eric Karabell

Why did you decide the A’s to win all of it?

Sixty video games should not trigger us to throw apart everything-or even much-of what we find out about these gamers. So whereas the A’s rotation is stuffed with bloated 2020 ERAs, I’m holding on to what I knew about Sean Manaea, Mike Minor, Frankie Montas and Jesus Luzardo two months in the past: They’re actually good. In a crammed postseason, with few days off, Oakland’s pitching depth actually stands out, with not less than 5 starters able to shutting down a top-tier offense and not less than seven relievers comfy in high-leverage innings. — Sam Miller

Why did you decide the Twins to bust up their postseason jinx and take dwelling the title?

Avoiding the Yankees till the League Championship Series — if such a matchup occurs in any respect — should not be a massive deal, however I believe it is a very massive deal, contemplating how a lot the Yankees appear to be within the Twins’ heads for the previous decade-plus. Instead, the Twins draw maybe essentially the most advantageous Wild Card Series matchup, and their roster is nicely balanced between offense, protection and pitching, with the latter notably necessary in a postseason that does not present midseries days off. Kenta Maeda might be the postseason’s most underrated employees ace, and the way nice a narrative would it not be if the man who could not crack the Dodgers’ rotation in postseasons previous tosses a pair of gems towards them as a starter within the World Series? — Tristan Cockcroft

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