Who will represent the National League in this year’s World Series? We know it won’t be the San Diego Padres, but let’s look at the NL side of this year’s MLB playoffs and pick some winners.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the San Diego Padres sit in last place in the National League West with a 63-94 record, 25 games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. With just five games remaining, the Friars will avoid a 100 loss season which is a small victory in a season that was void of many others (unless you were expecting the Padres to receive a higher draft pick, then you aren’t even satisfied when the team wins).
While our purpose is to write about the San Diego Padres, we thought we would take a second to look at the National League as a whole and predict some winners in this year’s NL playoff battle.
The Atlanta Braves have wrapped up the East, avoiding a late-season dog-fight with the Philadelphia Phillies after the Phils recent and sudden collapse, even falling behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East standings.
As for the NL Central, it appears as if it will go down to the final day of the season to decide a winner. The Chicago Cubs hold a slim 1.5 game lead over the surging Milwaukee Brewers and have recently been hit with some disturbing news about their star shortstop, Addison Russell. With Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain (one of the most underrated players in baseball) leading the way, don’t be shocked to see the Brewers take this division in dramatic fashion.
Now for the NL West. It’s hard to cheer for many of our rivals, however, we have to pick a winner. The Dodgers currently lead the division with an 88-69 record and hold a 1.5 game lead over the second-place Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are winners of four straight and end their season with games against the Phillies and Nationals, however, no offense in baseball is hotter than the Dodgers right now (in the NL). They went out and acquired Manny Machado for a reason, step one is to win the division, not rely on a wild card.
Picking the MLB playoffs bracket.
NL Wild Card game- Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs
If this were a series, the Rockies would stand a chance to defeat the Cubs, however, if the Rockies have to play a one-game, winner-take-all matchup on the road, they don’t win. Colorado has the second-worst team batting average on the road (.226), reaches base at just a .295 clip, and has posted a 78 wRC+ in away contests (tied with the Baltimore Orioles). There also isn’t a starter on the Rockies’ roster that is extremely trustworthy for this sort of game. Kyle Freeland has been great this season and pitched well in his lone start against the Cubs (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER) but whether it’s Freeland or any other Rockies starter, will they get any run support?
NLDS- Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
The difference makers in this series are the Cubs starters and the Dodgers bullpen. Jon Lester‘s ERA is approaching 5.00 since the All-Star break and opponents may be striking out a touch more against him, but they are also producing a batting average more than 70 points higher, compared to his first-half numbers. Jose Quintana has also stumbled slightly in the second half. On the contrary, the LA bullpen has dominated since the break. Their .284 combined OBP is the second-lowest mark in the league while they’re 3.50 ERA is good for fifth-lowest. The biggest wild card in all of this may be Julio Urías. He’s logged three shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out five since his return to the mound. He’s fresh and can enter the game at any point for the Dodgers. Advantage Dodgers.
NLDS- Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves
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The magic seems to be real in Atlanta who seems to have a solid mix of rookies and veterans on the roster to make a deep playoff push. Everything will have to click the entire way for things to work out for Atlanta, however, Kevin Gausman has pitched extremely well since being traded from Baltimore and Touki Toussaint pitches with the confidence of a 10-year MLB veteran. If the Atlanta pitching staff can limit the number of walks they surrender (seemingly a problem all season), the Braves will win this series.
NLCS- Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers
Wow, buckle up. Should this be the NLCS matchup, the Dodgers are sure to heavy favorites here, however, it’s not just Toussaint who is the only rookie to play with no fear on the diamond. While the rookies take control of the divisional series, the veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman will rise when it counts, creating a nation of Braves of fans (just for the playoffs) and providing some of the biggest excitement in recent memory. This series goes to the Braves, with every single game coming down to the wire.
2018 National League Champion- Atlanta Braves
One thing is for certain, these MLB playoffs will not disappoint.