2017 Major League Baseball Playoffs Preview

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 MLB Divisional Playoffs start this Tuesday when the Minnesota Twins battle the New York Yankees in the American League Wildcard Game. On Wednesday, MLB plays the National League Wildcard Game between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Then, starting on Thursday, is first pitch for the AL Divisional Playoff between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros. Starting on Friday is the NL Divisional Playoff between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals. In the American League, the winner between the Twins and Yankees battle the 1 seed Cleveland Indians. In the National League, the 1 seed L.A. Dodgers await the winner of the Rockies versus Diamondbacks.

Keep reading for previews of all MLB wildcard games and divisional playoffs matchups!

2017 MLB Divisional Playoffs Preview

American League 2017 MLB Divisional Playoffs Preview

5 Minnesota Twins at 4 New York Yankees – 1 Game Playoff

The first AL Wildcard Game should provide a no-brainer pick. Before getting into that, here’s a closer look at the starting pitchers.

The Minnesota Twins send Ervin Santana to the mound. Santana has a 3.28 ERA. His regular season record is 16-8. His WHIP is 1.13. Versus the New York Yankees, Ervin Santana has allowed 159 hits from 143 at-bats. The Yankees bat .270. Santana has struck out 22 batters. He’s yielded 8 hits.

The New York Yankees list Luis Severino as their starter. Severino’s record is 14 and 6. His ERA is a dynamite 2.98 while his WHIP is 1.04. Severino has faced Minnesota batters 13 times. The Twins have 5 hits off their 13 at-bats versus Luis Severino. The batting average is .385.

Minnesota only has a slight chance of beating the New York Yankees in this game. Here are the odds:

Minnesota Twins                    +1.5 -110      +200

New York Yankees                  -1.5 -110      -240

Although Severino has allowed Minny to bat .385 against him, he’s only faced Minnesota batters 13 times. I must believe that catcher Gary Sanchez, who got benched at one time during the regular season because pitches were passing him with regularity, knows what Severino must throw to contain Twins’ batters in this game.

Unless Severino just gets bad info from Sanchez, a slight possibility, the Yankees should win this by at least 2 runs. I don’t see how the Yankees lose straight up. Not when New York’s bullpen is better than Minnesota’s. Not when Severino’s batting average allowed in 2017 is .208.

I’ll back the Yankees on the run line in the 2017 AL Wildcard Game.

3 Boston Red Sox vs 2 Houston Astros

Before getting to my series’ pick, it’s helpful to check out the current odds:

Boston Red Sox                     +135

Houston Astros                      -165

The odds imply that Houston should have no trouble beating the Boston Red Sox in their AL Divisional Playoff Series. The odds make some sense. Houston acquired pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers. Verlander has a ton of playoff experience. Not only that, but he turned his form around in the second half of the season. His ERA ended up at 3.36. His WHIP? 1.17. Verlander also posted a winning record of 15 and 8.

When Verlander doesn’t pitch in this series, Dallas Kuechel figures to get at least one start. Kuechel has a 2.90 ERA and a 14 and 5 record. His WHIP is 1.12. Kuechel’s held Boston to a .222 batting average. He also turned his form around in his last 3 starts. Kuechel managed to hold every team he faced in his last 3, the Seattle Mariners, the Chicago White Sox, and the Texas Rangers, to 2 earned runs or less. What’s great is that Kuechel pitched 6 innings in each one of those starts.

Boston’s 2 aces, every team needs 2 aces to just make it to the playoffs, are Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. I’ll start with Porcello. The 2016 AL Cy Young winner started the season terribly. He was so bad that there were rumors Boston might send Porcello down to Triple A for a start or two. Did Porcello’s form turnaround in the second half? Not really.

Luckily for the Red Sox, they might not need Porcello in this series. Drew Pomeranz allows Houston to bat .245. In his last game versus Houston, a few days ago on September 30, Pomeranz allowed 3 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings.

Boston should be a game up after starting Chris Sale in Game 1 on Friday. If the Red Sox get another terrific start out of Drew Pomeranz, I’m inclined to go with Boston to win this series. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I like Boston to upset the Houston Astros in the AL Divisional Playoffs

5 Minnesota Twins/4 New York Yankees vs 1 Cleveland Indians

If Minnesota upset the Yankees in the AL Wildcard Game, the Tribe easily beats the Twins in the AL Divisional Playoffs. Cleveland is 8 and 2 straight up in their last 10 games versus the Twins. The pitching matchups will definitely favor Cleveland with the exception of Ervin Santana, who always steps it up when he faces the Tribe.

The Yankees could beat Cleveland in one game. That’s pretty much it. Cleveland has a big advantage over the New York Yankees just like they do over the Minnesota Twins.

Ace Corey Kluber holds the Yankees to a .155 batting average. He’s struck out 47 Yankees from 155 at-bats. The Yankees bat .267 versus Carlos Carrasco. But even if the Yanks get to Carrasco early, Cleveland’s bullpen is good enough to keep NYY at bay. The Tribe’s BP is ranked first in MLB in ERA at 2.89.

National League 2017 MLB Divisional Playoffs Preview

5 Colorado Rockies at 4 Arizona Diamondbacks – 1 Game Playoff

The Arizona Diamondbacks host the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wildcard Game this Wednesday on Oct. 4. The D’Backs are the favorites. Check out the odds:

Colorado Rockies                       +1.5 -140                +150

Arizona Diamondbacks             -1.5 +120                -170

Colorado has a legitimate chance of upsetting Arizona in the NL Wildcard Game. I believe Arizona is good enough to beat the Cubs or the Nationals for the NL Pennant. I’m just not sure if they can get past Colorado on Wednesday. Arizona starts pitcher Zack Greinke.

Greinke has a 3.20 ERA. His record is 17 and 7. His WHIP is a fantastic 1.07. Greinke’s stats versus the Colorado Rockies aren’t great. He’s allowed 100 hits from 367 at-bats. The Rockies are good for a .272 batting average versus Zack Greinke. The Rockies have hit 15 home runs off Greinke.

Colorado starter Jon Gray is talented enough to keep the Rockies in this game. I don’t have much faith in Zach Greinke to get it done on Wednesday. I must side with the Rockies at +150 to beat Arizona on the road in the 2017 NL Wildcard Game.

3 Chicago Cubs vs 2 Washington Nationals

Check out the odds for the National League Divisional Playoff Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals:

Chicago Cubs                     +115

Washington Nationals     -145

At first glance, the Washington Nationals should have no trouble beating the Chicago Cubs. When it comes to the MLB Playoffs, we should never make decisions based on first glances.

The biggest issue that the Nationals have versus the Cubs is that ace Max Scherzer has a hamstring issue. Manager Dusty Baker has already stated that Scherzer’s hamstring problem is going to affect the Nationals’ starting rotation. That’s a huge issue because Scherzer, like Gio Gonzalez, like Stephen Strasburg, is used to pitching 7 to 8 innings.

The Nationals’ bullpen just isn’t as talented as the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen. Both teams have hitters for days. Both can score runs with the top squads in MLB.

The one difference is that Chicago’s bullpen is more capable of bailing out their starters than Washington’s bullpen. This series should come down to the BPs with Scherzer’s hamstring problem. The Nats best hope of beating the Cubs in the NL Divisional Playoffs was to have their starters go longer than 6 innings in each game.

That plan goes out the window with Scherzer’s injury. Yes, Jake Arrieta should miss the first games of the NLDS. Let’s not lie to ourselves. A banged up Max Scherzer is a much bigger deal for the Nationals than a banged up Jake Arrieta is for the Chicago Cubs.

I believe the Cubs beat Washington in this NL Divisional Playoff Series.

5 Colorado Rockies/4 Arizona Diamondbacks vs 1 Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers should have no trouble beating the Colorado Rockies in the the NL Divisional Playoffs should they meet the Rockies later this week. L.A. beat Colorado in 2 out of 3. I don’t believe the Rockies are well-suited to get past the Dodgers’ top 2 pitchers:  Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish.

I do feel that Arizona would beat the Dodgers in the NLDS. Arizona’s Robbie Ray is stellar in away games. His ERA is less than 2.00. But, I don’t believe Greinke and Zona beats the Rockies in the NL Wildcard Game. The Dodgers figure to march to the NL Championship Series by beating Colorado.

The 2017 MLB Playoffs start this week. Make sure to root for your favorite team!

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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