After a weekend of Wild Card series baseball, the four best teams from each league remain. Teams with the better 2022 regular season records will host the remaining playoff teams as the American and National League Divisional Series start on Tuesday.
In the National League, the San Diego Padres needed three games to defeat the New York Mets, who were sent home after winning 101 games in the regular season. The Padres will now face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had the best regular season record in all of baseball at 111-51.
And, in their first playoff appearance since 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies stunned the St. Louis Cardinals in a two-game sweep.
In the American League, the Seattle Mariners stunned everyone by overcoming an 8-1 deficit against the Toronto Blue Jays to advance to the American League Division Series to face the AL’s best, the Houston Astros (106-56).
The Cleveland Guardians maintained their elite pitching while scoring just enough runs to sweep the Tampa Bay Rays in two games.
National League Division Series: No.1 Los Angeles vs. No.5 San Diego
Pitchers Game 1: Undecided (LAD) vs. Mike Clevinger (SD) in Game 1
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, Los Angeles, California, 6:37 p.m. PT
After nearly a week off, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros return to action. As the favorites, they’ll try to hold off the underdogs and punch their tickets to the Championship Series.
In the Division Series, Los Angeles faces San Diego. For nearly the entire season, the Dodgers have been the undisputed best team in baseball. Although several key pitchers were injured during the season, they continued to win.
It resulted in the best season in the franchise’s history, with 111 wins. While their starting rotation has some doubts, their bullpen is dependable, and their lineup is possibly the best in many years. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Trea Turner lead a lineup that could include six or more All-Stars.
Manny Machado and Juan Soto are two of the Padres’ most talented players. They now have the opportunity in the playoffs to exorcise some demons from the regular season and post-seasons past.
The Dodgers won the season series 14-5, establishing them as clear favorites in this best-of-five matchup.
National League Division Series: No.2 Atlanta vs. No.6 Philadelphia
Pitchers Game 1: Max Fried (ATL) vs. Ranger Suarez (PHI)
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, Atlanta, GA, 10:07 a.m. PT
The reigning World Series champion Braves face the Phillies, who are fresh off their surprise win over the Cardinals. The Braves started the 2022 season slowly, as they did in 2021.
However, they’ve improved thanks to an elite bullpen, strong starting pitching, and a strong lineup. They, too, won 100 games, finishing with a record of 101-61, making them one of four teams to do so this season.
This matchup may be the most lopsided of the four Division Series statistically. With a 14-game lead in the standings, the Braves outplayed the Phillies in the regular season, winning 11-8.
American League Division Series: No.1 Houston vs. No.5 Seattle
Pitchers Game 1: Justin Verlander (HOU) vs. Undecided (SEA)
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, Houston, TX, 12:37 p.m. PT
The Astros won 106 games quietly, thanks to one of the best starting rotations and deepest lineups in baseball. The Astros won the AL West after the Yankees began to cool off, despite the absence of pitching ace and Cy Young Award favorite Justin Verlander.
These two teams met 19 times during the regular season, with the Astros winning 12. The Astros are heavy favorites to advance to the American League Championship Series due to their talent and advantage in rest. But the Mariners understand what it’s like to be the underdog.
Verlander returns to the mound in Game 1 against a scrappy Mariners team. Every time the Mariners appear to be on their last legs, they come back, and they should have no trouble putting up a fight against Houston.
American League Division Series: No.2 New York vs. No.3 Cleveland
Pitchers Game 1: Gerrit Cole (NYY) vs. Cal Quantrill (CLE)
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, Bronx, NY, 4:37 p.m. PT
Although the Yankees are the home team with the higher seed, the Guardians have a much stronger sense of identity going into this series. The Guardians won’t score many runs, but their pitching and defense will keep opposing teams at bay. The offense and superstar Jose Ramirez will do just enough to secure victories.
There was a time when the Yankees appeared to be the overwhelming favorites to win both the regular season and the World Series. However, aside from MVP favorite Aaron Judge, the Yankees offense has stalled, and meanwhile, their pitching has begun to show signs of wear.
The Yankees will and should still be favored to win this five-game series against Cleveland, having won five of six meetings this season. On the other hand, the Guardians should give New York a run for its money.