MLB playoff predictions 2019: Sporting News experts make pennant, World Series picks

first_imgThe field is set, October is here. Let’s have some fun.The 2019 MLB postseason not only features several teams that could legitimately emerge as the last team standing when the World Series concludes, but also a few others that could ride a surprise hot streak to playoff glory. But that’s the beauty of postseason baseball: Despite projections and stats and gut feelings, we just never know what’s going to happen. MORE: 2019 MLB playoff odds, favoritesThat makes postseason predictions a bit of a fool’s errand, but we’re here to offer our thoughts anyway. Here are the 2019 playoff predictions from SN’s panel of baseball experts, as well as from the hosts of DAZN’s “ChangeUp.” For simplicity sake, we’ll bypass the division series and start with expected LCS matchups.Ryan Fagan, senior baseball writerNLCS: Dodgers over CardinalsALCS: Astros over TwinsWorld Series: Astros over DodgersBreakout star: Tommy Edman, CardinalsThoughts: It’s not risky to pick the 107-win team beat the 106-win team in the World Series, I realize. But those teams are just so solid, it’s hard to go against the Astros and Dodgers. The Astros have the stiffest league competition, with two other 100-plus win teams in the Yankees and Twins, but of my two World Series picks, the Dodgers are probably the more vulnerable team. Closer Kenley Jansen has been far from the dominant ninth-inning guy we knew for so many years, and that’s at least a little bit concerning for Dodgers fans. Jason Foster, senior baseball editorNLCS: Braves over DodgersALCS: Astros over YankeesWorld Series: Astros over BravesBreakout star: Ozzie Albies, BravesThoughts:  The Braves have surprised a lot of people the past two seasons, and they’re going to keep that going in October. This year’s Braves are much deeper and much improved over the group that the Dodgers dispatched easily in last year’s division series, so Los Angeles will have to wait at least another year for its coveted World Series championship. Meanwhile, the Yankees will wear out the Astros in a losing cause — and the whole thing will be a heck of a lot of fun to watch. But look for Houston to hoist another World Series trophy when the dust settles. But also, look for the Braves’ Ozzie Albies to put up an MVP-like performance in the Fall Classic. Dan Bernstein, baseball writerNLCS: Cardinals over NationalsALCS: Astros over YankeesWorld Series: Astros over CardinalsBreakout star: Juan Soto, NationalsThoughts: The AL will go mostly according to plan, the superior talent of the Yankees and Astros winning out. Houston’s Big 3 starting rotation delivers on its promise of being an all-time great postseason staff. In the NL, the favored Dodgers and Braves are stung by an excellent Nationals rotation and balanced Cardinals squad, respectively. Paul Goldschmidt lives up to his big contract for the Cardinals following an underwhelming regular season, and despite an NLCS defeat, Nationals 20-year-old Juan Soto shows the baseball world why he could be the best pure hitter of his generation, finally getting Washington through the first round with an epic power display.Tom Gatto, night editorNLCS: Nationals over BravesALCS: Astros over YankeesWorld Series: Astros over NationalsBreakout star: Yordan Alvarez, AstrosThoughts: The Nats taking out the top-seeded Dodgers in the NLDS should not shock anyone. Washington can slug with LA; Nats hitters finished second to the Dodgers in the NL with a .796 OPS. They can do the same against Atlanta’s pitching in the NLCS. The AL is much chalkier, and the Astros are by far the most complete team in the field. Their one liability might be No. 4 starter, either Wade Miley or rookie Jose Urquidy. Of course, that’s a minor deficiency given that three aces lead the rotation. Let’s hope Houston strikes a blow for old-school (or at least last-decade) pitching usage.Alyssa Sconzo, baseball social producerNLCS: Dodgers over BravesALCS: Astros over TwinsWorld Series: Astros over DodgersBreakout star: Michael Brantley, AstrosThoughts: The Twins shock the baseball world and knock off the Yankees with a high-powered offensive explosion, but their bats go silent against the trio of Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. The Dodgers cruise through the National League with big-time pitching from Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Hyun-jin Ryu and a high-powered offensive led by Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. For the second time in three years, the Astros will be too much for the Dodgers and Michael Brantley will be the surprise MVP of the World Series.Adnan Virk, host, “ChangeUp” on DAZNNLCS: Braves over DodgersALCS: Astros over Yankees World Series: Astros over Braves Breakout star: Yordan Alvarez, AstrosThoughts:  The favorites don’t always happen in baseball, which is why I don’t anticipate an Astros-Dodgers World Series, as tantalizing as it looks. Thus, I’ll roll with the Baby Braves to pull off the upset in the NL (and look for Mike Soroka to become a household name).Scott Rogowsky, host, “ChangeUp” on DAZNNLCS: Braves over DodgersALCS: Astros over TwinsWorld Series: Astros over BravesBreakout star: Abraham Toro/Kyle Tucker (depending on who makes roster), AstrosThoughts: While many are predicting Astros-Dodgers or Yankees-Dodgers, I see the Braves surprising here. Between Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson smashing they way they have, Mike Soroka having one helluva Rookie of the Year campaign, Max Fried’s nasty curve, and Dallas Keuchel and Mike Foltynewicz pitching lights-out since joining/rejoining the team, they have the pieces to beat LA. But ultimately, it’s the Ace-tros and their best-in-baseball offense that takes the Fall Classic cake. Tony Luftman, host, “ChangeUp” on DAZNNLCS: Dodgers over Braves ALCS: Astros over YankeesWorld Series: Dodgers over AstrosBreakout star: Walker Buehler, Dodgers Thoughts: The third time is the charm! At last LA wears the crown. (Full disclosure: I grew up in Los Angeles.)Lauren Gardner, host, “ChangeUp” on DAZNNLCS: Braves over NationalsALCS: Astros over Yankees  World Series: Astros over BravesBreakout star: Yordan Alvarez, AstrosThoughts: As much as the world would love to see a Yankees vs. Dodgers World Series, this one will be just as exciting. Both teams can go blow for blow at the dish while flexing pitching depth. As long as the Astros get adequate help from the bullpen, they will be raising the Commissioner’s Trophy for the second time in three years.last_img

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