ITMOD: League Championship Edition

Mike Venditti
October 12, 2018 - 2:51 pm

Alright, so I'm batting .500 on my predictions.  That's actually really good in baseball...but also means that I got half of my Divisional Series predictions wrong.

The Braves weren't quite as ready as I had thought, the Dodgers were FAR more ready than I anticipated and the Astros reminded us all exactly why they're knocking on the door of a repeat.

The only real drama in the opening round of the MLB Postseason was in the rivalry series between the Yankees and Red Sox and like the Braves/Dodgers series, that still only went 4-games.

Something else I was wrong about was the thought that there was no clear-cut favorite in the National League.  

There might be...and it's not the team in L.A.

The Milwaukee Brewers absolutely dismantled the red-hot Colorado Rockies in a 3-game sweep.  The series was never in question and the Rockies, who were a playoff game from winning the NL West, didn't seem to belong on the field with the Brew Crew.

I'll get into my NLCS prediction later on, but it's going to take a lot for the Dodgers to return to the Fall Classic. 

In the American league, I was pretty disappointed in the showing the Indians had in the ALDS, but can't necessarily fault them.  The Astros have multiple aces in their rotation, a solid bullpen and an unreal line-up.  Their stars don't have to be the hero, as we saw with Marwin Gonzalez taking care of the Tribe in Game 3.  I'm not going to say that it's the beginning of the end for Cleveland's recent run of success, but contracts are expiring and it'll take a lot of effort from the Indians' front office to keep this team in the mix.

As for the Yankees, and I promise I'm not being a homer...yet...I still see 2018 as a massive success.  I feel like Aaron Boone really proved himself as a manager this year and that the sky is still the limit for this club and their current roster.  They definitely need to revamp the starting rotation, but if I'm Brian Cashman, I don't touch anything else.

Of course in New York, the world is falling apart...but I think Yankee fans need to take a deep breath and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Boone was able to win 100-games with an up and down rotation and without some major players for a lot of the season.  Any other year, the Red Sox don't win 108 and the Yankees are division champs.  This year it just didn't work out in the Yankees' favor.  

I even feel like Giancarlo Stanton was still a great trade for the Yanks.  

Stanton has been an oft-injured player, but was able to stay healthy and play 158-games for New York this season.  He also tallied his 2nd highest home run total (38) and 3rd highest RBI total (100) this year. 

Obviously, Stanton's strike outs are an issue (211 in 2018), but they were already an issue when he came to the Bronx.  Stanton even struck out 163 times in 2017 and won the National League MVP.

With a healthy Aaron Judge the Yankees would have won even more games this season and we'd be having a completely different conversation, one I'd be much more negative about, but overall I was very impressed with the 2018 Yankees and what they accomplished in a division with one team that won 108-games and another that won 90-games.

Now, let's look into the future.  It's prediction time and once again here is your warning....there will be a homer pick and a legitimate pick for the Red Sox/Astros series....but first...

NLCS- Los Angeles Dodgers vs Milwaukee Brewers

This series should be a lot of fun.

Power all over both line-ups, solid pitching on both clubs and two incredibly baseball savvy ex-players as managers.

It's honestly hard to pick this series.  There are so many reasons why either one of these teams could be representing the National League in the World Series.

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, who could possibly pitch 3-times if this goes 7-games, and along with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill they definitely have the edge in starting pitching.

That being said, the Brewers' combo of Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin has been solid all season and the bullpen in Milwaukee is top-notch.

Offensively, the Brewers have been great all year and led by NL MVP candidate Christian Yelich.  Problem for the Brew Crew is that the Dodgers have actually been better offensively with more runs scored and a far higher run differential (194 vs 95). 

Overall, I really think these two teams are evenly matched and do expect a long series.  In a long series, though, experience always wins.

Prediction- D​odgers in 6

I just think the Dodgers are getting hot at the right time, again, and have more talent overall than the Brewers.  I really like this Brewers club though and would not be surprised to see them prove me wrong, but I have to go with L.A. in this one. 

ALCS- Houston Astros vs Boston Red Sox

This is one of those rare years that both Championship series' are ridiculously evenly matched.  To break down the Red Sox/Astros series you have to go through a ton of slight edges.

Like offensively.  

The Astros have the highest run differential in all of baseball (263) but the Red Sox are second (229) and scored 79-runs more than Houston this season (876 vs 797).  The flip side of that is that the 'Stros gave up over 100-runs less than the BoSox in 2018.

The Astros starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Garrit Cole and Charlie Morton is three deep in ace-quality pitchers and has been absolutely dominant all season long.  With Roberto Osuna closing games, the pitching in Houston is outstanding.

The Red Sox pitching is not to be ignored either.

Sure, David Price had his woes against the Yankees, but this isn't the Yankees anymore and if he's able to get the playoff monkey off of his back, he could be very good and very important in this series.  Chris Sale and Rick Porcello both looked great in the ALDS against the Yankees and Nathan Eovaldi was solid as well.  The Sox middle relief has been an issue all season long, but actually performed quite well against New York as well...and then of course Craig Kimbrell closes things down.

The comparisons between these rosters are amazing and yes, the slight edge has to go to the Astros because of their experience from a year ago and of course their outstanding rotation.  You can also make a case that on paper, the Red Sox should also have a slight edge with their powerful line-up, two MVP candidates and a Cy Young candidate. 

Either way, this will be one epic ALCS.

"Homer Mike" Prediction- Sox in 5

Defending champs or no, this ain't the 2017 Red Sox kiddos.  This club is for real and was made for this type of series.  They quickly disposed of the beloved Baby Bombers in 4-games and now they're coming for the AL Crown.  Who better to take it from than the defending champs!?  Sale dominates, Price dominates, Houston sneaks one at home then the Sox close it down and dance on yet another team's field.  A fourth World Series title in 14 years is within reach and the boys from Beantown are ready!

Professional broadcaster and analyst Ditti Prediction- Red Sox in 7

Winning 108-games this season wasn't just record-breaking for the Red was vital to their shot at winning it all. 

Home field advantage is scoffed at a lot in the baseball world, but there's no denying its impact at a place like Fenway Park.  The Red Sox hold the leagues best home record.  The Astros however have the league's best road record, but that record is closely followed by Boston as well.

Look for a very entertaining series.  This will be baseball at it's best.


Another ITMOD MLB blog will hit after the World Series was set and again, I'll take my medicine for all of my incorrect predictions.

Feel free to reach out and start a conversation (not argument) with me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Facebook (/InsideTheMindOfDitti) or Instagram (dittius33).

- Ditti

In the immortal words of Bill & Ted...Be Excellent To Each Other!  

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