We're out of the first-ever wild-card round and into the friendly confines of the Division Series. Just eight teams remain in contention for the title–we made a case for all of them to win it all–and SI's MLB experts are here to predict who will advance to the Championship Series.
(Friendly reminder MLB has moved into its "bubbles"–with Rays-Yankees taking place in San Diego, A's-Astros in L.A., Braves-Marlins in Houston and Dodgers-Padres in Arlington.)
Rays vs. Yankees
Stephanie Apstein: Rays
This will be hard-fought and fun to watch. I’ll take the Rays’ pitchers over the Yankees’ hitters.
Emma Baccellieri: Yankees
The Rays took the regular season series here easily (8-2), but the Yankees are now at full-strength, which should make for an exciting (if chippy) match-up here.
Connor Grossman: Yankees
Even against the Rays' limitless pitching depth, the Yankees are going to mash their way to the ALCS.
Matt Martell: Yankees
For the first time in nearly two months, the Rays will face a Yankees lineup with both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Counting their two-game sweep of the Indians in the wild-card round, the Yankees are 14-5 in games when both Judge and Stanton have started. They are 28-5 in games when they've scored five or more runs this year, again including the playoffs. Scoring against the Rays' pitching staff won't be easy, but if what the Yankees did against Cleveland is any indication, they can hit anybody when their big boys are healthy.
Michael Shapiro: Rays
I’d feel better if this series was held at The Trop, but Tampa’s pitching should travel regardless of the location. The Yankees’ lack of depth in their rotation will be exposed against their AL East rival.
A's vs. Astros
Stephanie Apstein: A's
The Astros are so dangerous, even when they don’t know what’s coming, but the A’s are more consistent, and eventually that will matter.
Emma Baccellieri: A's
The Astros were able to make quick work of the Twins, it's hard to see their bullpen holding up in a longer series here—particularly against a team like the A's, which is terrific at locking a game down in the later innings.
Connor Grossman: Astros
No one except the Astros is rooting for the Astros. In 2020–let me remind you again this is 2020 we're talking about–that means the Astros' improbable playoff run rolls on.
Matt Martell: A's
This series will come down to Oakland's great bullpen. If the A's can give their relievers a lead late in the game, they'll take care of the Astros.
Michael Shapiro: Astros
Houston’s lineup is finding its groove, and the rotation is stabilizing at the right time. Carlos Correa and Co. will deliver enough clutch hits to advance.
Dodgers vs. Padres
Stephanie Apstein: Dodgers
The Padres are a joy to watch, and I think they’ll steal one, but with Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet injured, they just don’t have the starting pitching to hang with the best team in baseball.
Emma Baccellieri: Dodgers
The Dodgers are still just too good and too deep to be worth betting against, and the Padres' depleted rotation certainly doesn't help, even though this should be a fun series regardless.
Connor Grossman: Padres
Top to bottom, the Dodgers are a more talented team. The Padres were my NL pennant pick, but more importantly, they have just enough pop and pitching to pull off an upset.
Matt Martell: Dodgers
The only chance the Padres have to upset the Dodgers is if both Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet return from injury. And even then, they'll be long shots. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, and they have both the firepower to rattle the best pitchers the Padres have to offer and the depth to counter any platoon matchups thrown at them.
Michael Shapiro: Dodgers
San Diego’s lineup continues to mash, but the lack of reliable starting pitching will doom the upstart squad.
Braves vs. Marlins
Stephanie Apstein: Braves
The lack of off-days will catch up with the Marlins.
Emma Baccellieri: Braves
Given the Marlins' relative lack of offense or relief pitching, it seems reasonable to think that their never-lost-a-playoff-series run will come to an end here. (But, of course, it would've seemed reasonable to think that those same qualities would have ruled them out of the playoffs a long time ago, so who knows?)
Connor Grossman: Marlins
At the end of this week, the Marlins will still have never lost a playoff series in their history. Onward.
Matt Martell: Marlins
Against my better judgement, I am picking the Marlins to win this series. Miami has three good young starters—Pablo López, Sandy Alcantra and Sixto Sánchez—who have proved they can contain the potent Braves offense. Sánchez, a rookie, held the Braves scoreless over six innings in his first start against them, and despite laboring when he faced them in his final start of the year (3 IP, 4 ER), he didn't allow a home run. That last part is important. The Braves hit the second most home runs (103) in the majors this season, but in nine games against the Marlins—excluding the 29-9 clunker—they hit just 10 homers, just over one per game.
Michael Shapiro: Braves
Max Fried and Ian Anderson dominated the Reds, and Miami doesn’t exactly sport a fearsome lineup. Expect Atlanta to prevail in a low-scoring series.