Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018 LCS previews

By Rick Morris

NOTE: 5-3 record in the playoffs so far.

^ American League: Boston vs. Houston.  By most objective measures, these were the two best teams in baseball for much of this year.  The Red Sox are a bit more battle-tested in terms of their schedule and get a slight nod in the outfield.  The Astros are a bit ahead in the starting rotation (more than that if Playoff David Price continues to show up) and in the bullpen.  The Houston offense suffered a bit of a championship hangover this year, but against top-flight pitching in the Divisional Round, they showed that they are rounding back into form.  They took out Boston in the Divisional Round last year and in an absolute classic, they will repeat as American League Champions.  Houston in 7.

^ National League: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee.  Two sports cities with nothing in common except for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar meet for the chance to go to baseball’s grandest stage.  The Brewers skewed disproportionately poorly on our UQB scale because their season was pumped up to such a large degree by a 19-7 record in September – which does make them baseball’s hottest team, coupling their tiebreaker-game win with a sweep in the Divisional Series.  And they did score highest on the part of the metric that was 50% placement in our final power rankings and 50% strength of schedule.  They rely more on their super-stacked late-inning bullpen (reminiscent of Kansas City in 2015) than a starting rotation that is a bit more pedestrian than the remaining playoff teams.  Their catcher-second base-shortstop pop is also the weakest of the remaining playoff teams.  Los Angeles, conversely, has pop coming out of its ears, including by far the best bench of any remaining playoff teams.  If Kenley Jansen remains strong, their entire pitching staff is without any obvious weaknesses.  Underachieving much of the year against a weak strength of schedule, the Dodgers do appear to be rounding into shape at just the right time, just like the team they faced in the World Series last year – and will again this year.  Los Angeles in 6.

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