MLB playoffs are finally set

Historic Yankees-Red Sox rivalry kicks off Wild Card games Tuesday night


Photo courtesy of Indrid Cold

The MLB playoffs begin begin Tuesday night with the American League Wild Card game between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Dodgers and Cardinals play in the National League Wild Card game on Wednesday.

Dylan Allen, Staff Writer

Now that the regular season has come to a close, the MLB playoff picture is all cleared up and 10 teams have now punched their tickets to October. There was a lot of chaos in the final weeks of the season to determine who would make it in and who wouldn’t, and several of these teams were determined on the season’s final day on Sunday.

In this year’s playoffs, there are 10 teams that are in, with 2 about to be eliminated in both Wild Card matchups on Tuesday and Wednesday. MLB fans should settle in for a wild ride, as all the matchups set for the postseason look incredibly exciting.

Here’s a breakdown of all 10 teams that have clinched their spot, who they are playing, how they matchup against their opponent, and predictions of who will moving on. 


San Francisco Giants – National League West Champion (Record: 107-55)

First round matchup: Winner of Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals National League Wild Card game in the NL Division Series (Best of 5 games)

Easily the most surprising team this year, the San Francisco Giants have stunned the entire league and clinched the National League West for the first time in nine years on the very last day of the season. In an intense divisional battle all season with the powerhouse super team that is the Dodgers, the Giants were able to stay one game ahead and the one-game Wild Card showdown with the Cardinals.

The Gians were the first team to clinch a postseason spot and officially finished with the most wins this year, breaking a franchise record for most wins in a season with 107. So, how have the Giants, who were supposed to be a sub .500 team this year and easily miss the playoffs because they were still rebuilding, held the best record in baseball for more than half the year? How have the Giants, who were in a stacked division with two supposed World Series contenders, the other one being the Padres, come out on top? 

For one, their offense has been incredible. Veterans like Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt have been having insane years. Posey and Crawford both finished the year hitting right around .300, and Belt hit like it is 2015 all over again, as he has the most home runs he has ever hit in a season with 29. In addition, they broke a franchise record for most home runs in season.

Secondly, the depth of this team is what has really allowed them to work around injuries and keep winning. They have someone new that seems to step up every single night, from guys like Steven Duggar, Tommy La Stella, Darin Ruf, and fan favorite Lamonte Wade Jr.

Another reason this team has exceeded so many expectations is their pitching staff and bullpen have been exceptional this season. Leading the rotation for the Giants is Kevin Gausman, with Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, and Johnny Cueto following him up.  Gausman had a fantastic season in his second year with the Giants as he posted a 2.81 ERA over 33 starts. Webb has also been fantastic this year, as he has performed like a second ace, posting a 3.03 ERA over 27 starts.

Outside of their starting rotation, this bullpen has been lockdown, which is something every Giants fan should be very happy about as the past few years their bullpen has been anything but reliable. The submarine throwing Tyler Rogers and left handed power thrower Jake McGee proved to be a great 1-2 punch in the 8th and 9th innings over the course of the season. Recently, hard throwing right hander Camilo Doval has been dominating in McGee’s absence over the last few weeks, as he finally looks like he got hold of his control issues. Doval is an electric righty, as he consistently pumps 100+ on his fastball and will be a very important part of their run in October if he can do well.

San Francisco also acquired World Series Champion Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. Bryant is a power hitting right handed utility player that can play every position besides pitcher and catcher, and he has been playing well with the Giants so far. 

The keys for the Giants to winning their divisional series and making a deep run in this year’s playoffs are just to continue playing as they have, keep hitting with runners in scoring position, and back up their pitching with their stellar defense. They will also hope that Belt, one of their veteran leaders, can return in the division series or later, as he suffered broken thumb and is on the injured list.

The Giants will await the Wednesday night matchup of the Cardinals and Dodgers, and will either play their division rivals or one of the hottest teams in baseball. If the Dodgers move on, it will be one of the most anticipated and exciting divisional matchups, as their regular season matches were back and forth with tons of late inning drama and ended with the Giants winning 9-8 overall on the season series. This year could mark the first time ever that the Giants and Dodgers have played each other in a postseason matchup, and it could not get any more intense, as they were the two teams with the best records in the MLB. 

For the Giants, they will be facing a pitching rotation that is extremely talented and they will have to stick to what they do best, which is working pitch counts up and getting to the bullpen. They also will need their pitching to be on point against an offense that is stacked top to bottom, and they also need to take advantage of their good pitching by scoring early. If the regular season matchups were telling, this will be a divisional series that could become an instant classic.

This season was one that was filled with many insane moments, nerve racking endings, shocking plays, playoff-like rivalry games, and overall has a similar feel to their World Series team of 2012 and 2014. In the end, the Giants were the ones on top after everything, even though most analysts believed they would fall off in June and July and would not be able to keep up with the Dodgers.

It has been an incredible and exciting year for the Giants, and their fans are looking forward to what this special team can do in October.

Prediction: Giants defeat Dodgers in 5 games in NLDS before losing to Brewers in 7 games in NLCS

 Milwaukee Brewers – National League Central Champion (Record: 95-67)

 First round matchup: Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series (Best of 5 games)

The Milwaukee Brewers have held the top spot in the NL Central for the majority of this year and will look to cause some damage in their division series with the Atlanta Braves.

The Brewers have one of the top pitching rotations in all of baseball, with a 1-2-3 punch of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. Along with a very high powered bullpen, their offense is incredibly talented, as they acquired the likes of Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez, and Eduardo Escobar to go along with the lefty slugger Christian Yelich. 

Overall, Milwaukee is an extremely well rounded team and has everything a World Series contender needs with pitching, hitting, defense, depth, and a good manager. The Atlanta Braves are also a well rounded team and will be a tough opponent. Expect the first two games of this series will come down to the bullpens, as the majority of the game will be a pitchers duel. After the first two games, anything could happen but there should definitely be some explosive games out of both of these offenses. 

Prediction: Brewers defeat Braves in 4 games in the NLDS and the Giants in 7 games in the NLCS before beating the Rays in 7 games to win the World Series

Atlanta Braves – National League East Champion (Record: 88-73)

First round matchup: Milwaukee Brewers in NL Division Series (Best of 5 games)

Sitting atop the National League East, the Braves were once many games below .500 early in the season. After making a big push, the Braves took first place for the majority of the year and now await their series with the Milwaukee Brewers to begin.

After losing the phenomenal young superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. for the the season because of injury, the Braves moved in on Chicago Cubs outfielder Joc Pederson and acquired him at the trade deadline. In addition to Pederson, the Braves landed power hitting Jorge Soler from the Kansas City Royals. The Braves are one of the more underrated teams in the league, as they have an incredibly powerful lineup and a solid 1-2 duo of a pitching staff. The Braves are also third in the league in home runs, right behind the Blue Jays and then the Giants. In addition, they have a solid left handed closer in Will Smith. They also have a very solid overall lineup, consisting of Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley.

The Braves did what they needed to do in their division, and held off  the rival Philadelphia Phillies, who were right behind them at the end of the year. Now, they get set for a touch divisional matchup against a team with one of the best pitching rotations in baseball. It will be very interesting to see how this lineup does against the likes of Burnes and Woodruff, but it will also be interesting to see how the Brewers do against the Braves ace Charlie Morton. In what will be a very competitive series, the Braves won’t be able to hold up and should fall short of taking down the Brewers.

Prediction- Braves lose to Brewers in 4 games in NLDS

Los Angeles Dodgers- National League Wild Card (Record: 106-56)

First round matchup: St. Louis Cardinals in NL Wild Card (Winner advances to NLDS)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been a bit underwhelming this year, but they picked it up and are now locked in for the National League Wild Card game against the Cardinals on Wednesday. Even with a good amount of injuries this year, the Dodgers managed to win 106 games and had the second best record in baseball, but they were unable to win the division. Much to their surprise, the team that ended up in first place and finished just one game ahead of them was the Giants. With the rivalry more alive than ever, the Dodgers are, to say the least, stunned at what the Giants have done this year. They were beaten by them 9 times, while beating the Giants only 8 times, but they will hope to take down the Cardinals and get to the division series to get another crack at San Francisco.

The Dodgers have a lineup that is packed with superstars, such as Mookie Betts, former NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who is having a down year, Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Albert Pujols, Clayton Kershaw, NL Cy Young candidate Walker Beuhler, and recent trade deadline acquisitions Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. The Dodgers acquired those two stars from the Nationals in exchange for prospects after the huge loss of star pitcher Trevor Bauer, who got into legal issues with a domestic violence case. The Dodgers have a fantastic pitching rotation, and one that could take them deep into the playoffs if they can advance past the Cardinals who have been insanely hot.

Coming off a World Series win against the Tampa Bay Rays during the shortened 2020 COVID season, the Dodgers will return to this year’s playoffs looking to make it back to where they were last year. A team with a lot of postseason experience, they are always poised to make a deep run and this year they are as well. The Dodgers will play on Wednesday night against the Cardinals and will face Adam Wainwright in what could be a trap game as they are most likely looking ahead to the most anticipated matchup of the playoffs, the Dodgers vs. Giants division series. If the Dodgers can beat the Cardinals, this division series against their rivals will be one for the ages.

Prediction- Dodgers defeat Cardinals in NL Wild Card before losing to the Giants in 5 games in the NLDS

St. Louis Cardinals- National League Wild Card (Record: 90-72)

First round matchup: Los Angeles Dodgers in NL Wild Card game (Winner advances to NLDS)

In what was an underwhelming season for this team for the majority of the season, the Cardinals ended up righting the ship down the stretch. After exploding for a 17 game win streak in September, the Cardinals clinched the second NL Wild Card and travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in a one game winner take all. 

Led by the infield power hitting duo of Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals have not really been too impressive this year and for the majority of the season were under .500. Nonetheless, the Cardinals found something that worked and they put it all together. Quickly becoming the hottest team in baseball, their 17 game win streak helped knock out the Mets, Padres, and then the Reds out of postseason contention. The Cardinals will throw their veteran ace Adam Wainwright, who has a 3.05 ERA this year, against the Dodgers. 

Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina will have to duel with the 106-win Dodgers. The NL Wild Card game will now feature one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Cardinals, versus the team with the second best record in all of baseball. It is going to be an incredibly tough challenge, but sometimes these winner-take-all games lead to huge upsets. The Cardinals will need an absolutely stellar performance from Wainwright to keep the Dodgers bats quiet. If they can do that, they Cardinals need to score a good amount of runs. With the Dodgers being able to score in an instant, this game could get out of hand for the Cardinals if they can’t shut down their offense.

Prediction- Cardinals lose to Dodgers in NL Wild Card


Tampa Bay Rays- American League East Champion (Record: 100-62)

First round matchup: Winner of Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees American League Wild Card game in AL Division Series(Best of 5 games)

The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the stacked American League East division as they stayed above the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays for just about the entirety of the season. They also clinched the top seed in the American League, gaining home field advantage for the playoffs. With the playoff field now set, they will await one of their division rivals, the Red Sox or the Yankees.

With the addition of Nelson Cruz, a 41 year old right handed power hitter, the Rays offense is almost unstoppable even though the majority of their players are not big time stars. The story of the year for this club is the 20 year old wonder Wander Franco, who was called up a few months ago, and the hype around their top prospect is paying off. Franco is a switch hitting infielder who notched an absolutely insane 43 game on streak and also hit .288 in 281 at bats. Franco is definitely a star in the making, as he will be a threat on this team for years to come. 

Losing the World Series in six games last year to the Dodgers, Tampa Bay is hoping these new additions can help them make the long run in the postseason this year and do what they could not last year. It has been a phenomenal season for the Rays, as they are an organization that is shocking the league year after year with their incredibly low pay roll. With seemingly no huge star players, Tampa Bay shockingly  boasts the third best record in the league overall.

The Rays have a division series with either the Red Sox or the Yankees awaiting, and both of these teams will make it a hard fought series. Unfortunately for whoever comes out of the Wild Card game, the Rays should have too good of an offense and defense to be defeated in the first round. 

Prediction- Rays defeat Red Sox in 4 games in ALDS and White Sox in 5 games in ALCS before losing to Brewers in 7 games in World Series

Houston Astros- American League West Champion (Record: 95-67)

First round Matchup: Chicago White Sox in AL Division Series (Best of 5)

The Houston Astros are another top notch team in the American League and after a long season with the majority of it being in first place, they will face the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the playoffs. The Astros held off some late surges in their division from the Mariners and the As, but this team did everything they needed to stay above their two division rivals and clinch the West.

Houston has a very high powered offense, consisting of Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Guriel, and left- handed slugger Kyle Tucker. Top to bottom, this offense can rake. Each guy in this lineup is a threat and can leave the yard at any moment.

The Astros also have a solid pitching rotation and plenty of playoff experience, but they are one of the league’s most hated teams because of the cheating scandal of 2017, which could affect how they play at an opposing team’s stadium in the postseason. Houston is primed, once again, to make a run in October and they very well could as they are a powerhouse team that is full of experienced stars. 

With the division matchup against the White Sox set to start this week, it will be a battle of high powered offenses. Falling last year to the Rays in seven games in the ALCS, the White Sox will make it very difficult for the Astros to advance to the next round. If the pitching for the White Sox can hold up and limit the damage against the Astros experienced stars, the Astros will be unable to get out of the first round after a great year. 

Prediction- Astros lose to White Sox in 5 games in ALDS

Chicago White Sox- American League Central Champion (Record: 93-69)

First round matchup: Houston Astros in American League Division Series (Best of 5)

Another squad that has now clinched their spot in the playoffs is the Chicago White Sox, who have one of the most high powered offenses in all of baseball. The Sox have held the top spot in the AL Central for pretty much the whole season, and with the AL Central under wraps they will look ahead to their highly anticipated division series with the Houston Astros.

Taking the league by storm is the right handed shortstop for the Sox known as Tim Anderson, who has proved he is one of the games best. Along with Anderson, Chicago has loads of power hitters such as Eloy Jimenez, Luis Roberts, Jose Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal.

 As long as their pitching rotation can hold things down, this team has a real shot at doing damage in the playoffs with an explosive offense and a lockdown bullpen. Matching up against the top team from the AL West, this will be a very exciting series with a lot of back and forth offense. I don’t think the pitching on either side will be able to slow anybody down, but it will come down to who can get big innings out of their relievers. In the end, I think the White Sox have better pitching and a better bullpen and although the Astros will steal a few games, I am giving this one to Chicago.

Prediction: White Sox defeat Astros in 5 games in ALDS before losing to Rays in 5 games in ALCS

Boston Red Sox- American League Wild Card (Record- 92-70)

First round matchup: New York Yankees in American League Wild Card game (Winner advances to ALDS)

In an absolutely loaded division, the Boston Red Sox have notched second place in the AL East and grabbed hold of the first Wild Card spot. In a crazy Wild Card race that came down to the final day of the season, Boston hung on with a win against the Nationals and clinched a winner take all home game in Boston for the right to play the Rays in the ALDS.

Playing in a lefty friendly ballpark, Boston is top 10 in the league for the most home runs hit. Led by third baseman Rafael Devers with 38, Hunter Renfroe with 27, and J.D. Martinez with 28, they are most definitely not lacking power. With the return of Chris Sale to their pitching staff, Boston may have just gotten exactly what they needed for a one game matchup

As Boston somehow held onto that first spot, they will now get the advantage of playing at their home stadium on Tuesday night and will throw right hander Nathan Eovaldi against the Yankees. Both teams have a lot of lefties, so playing at Fenway will be advantageous because of the short porch in right field. These two teams have been rivals for decades, and it should be a very exciting game to get the 2021 playoffs rolling. The Red Sox lineup will most likely have to deal with Gerrit Cole, but if they knock him out of the game early, they can get to the bullpen of New York and run away with this one.

Prediction- Red Sox defeat Yankees in AL Wild Card before losing to Rays in 4 games in ALDS

New York Yankees- American League Wild Card (Record: 92-70)

First round matchup: Boston Red Sox in American League Wild Card game (Winner advances to ALDS)

With an incredibly abysmal start to the season, New York was once looking like they were going to be nowhere near the playoffs come September. But with an incredible run in July and August, the Yanks vaulted themselves into the Wild Card game. In a wild race with four teams in the running until the very last day, the Yankees walked it off against the Rays 1-0 to clinch the second spot.  Now, they get a date with the Boston Red Sox, at Fenway Park.

The Yankees have some of the best power hitters in the league, with their lineup consisting of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and DJ Lemahieu. To add to their roster, they decided to make moves on Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Rangers right fielder Joey Gallo, who both are two power hitting lefties that moved into a very lefty friendly ballpark. Judge and Stanton are finally getting the production that fans have been looking for, as Judge racked up 39 home runs and Stanton was right behind him with 35. The only thing they lack is pitching, but if their offense can keep pace with their opponent they will always be in games, even though their offense can be very inconsistent.

The Yankees will throw their right handed ace Gerrit Cole, who is having a phenomenal year. They hope he can push them into the ALDS where they have a chance to make a run. But first, they will have to get past the very dangerous Boston Red Sox who have power hitters up and down their roster. They also have a solid starter in Nathan Eovaldi, who may cause some trouble for these guys.  In what should be an exciting rivalry Wild Card matchup with both their seasons on the line, the Yanks should fall short and have their season end against the Red Sox

Prediction- Yankees lose to Red Sox in AL Wild Card