ALCS and NLCS Predictions: Who Will Play in the World Series?

We're going to see some combination of the Rays, Astros, Dodgers and Braves in the Fall Classic. Who's it going to be?
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And then there were four. The American League pennant is up for grabs between the Rays and Astros while the Dodgers and Braves clash for the National League's seat in the World Series. Which two teams will emerge to play in an unusual and unforgettable Fall Classic? SI's MLB experts offer their ALCS and NLCS predictions. 

ALCS: Rays vs. Astros

Stephanie Apstein: Rays (six games)

I'm not confident about this one. The Rays are so good, but the Astros are such a good fit for the postseason. In the end, I think Tampa Bay has the pitching to shut down Houston.

MVP Pick: Tyler Glasnow, SP 

Emma Baccellieri: Astros (seven games)

Are the Rays the better (deeper, stronger, more talented) team? Yes, indisputably. But when Houston’s offense is clicking, as it has been lately, it can be just as solid as Tampa Bay’s, and they’ve been able to overcome their relatively thin pitching staff so far, and... weirder things have happened.

MVP Pick: Framber Valdez, SP

Connor Grossman: Rays (five games)

A losing team in the World Series? Are we really ready for that? I'm not. Neither are the Rays, who will flex their superiority in all aspects to steamroll the Astros in five games. It's worth noting if Houston does reach the Fall Classic, it'll play in front of fans for the first time all year.

MVP Pick: Randy Arozarena, OF

Matt Martell: Rays (six games)

The Rays are the better team, with the best pitching staff of the four remaining teams. The Astros are playing well, and their lineup has experience. In the end, Tampa Bay's depth will be too much for Houston.

MVP Pick: Ji-Man Choi, 1B

Michael Shapiro: Astros (six games)

Houston’s lineup has absolutely found its groove, and there should be just enough depth in Dusty Baker’s bullpen to survive. Expect a standout series from Framber Valdez en route to the franchise’s third World Series in the last four seasons.

MVP Pick: Framber Valdez, SP 

Ian Anderson throwing

NLCS: Dodgers vs. Braves

Stephanie Apstein: Dodgers (five games)

The Dodgers' only question is a shaky bullpen, and they can paper over that with strong performances from their starting pitchers and their hitters.

MVP Pick: Mookie Betts, OF

Emma Baccellieri: Dodgers (five games)

As fearsome as the Braves’ lineup can be, I still can’t find any reason to bet against such a loaded squad from the Dodgers.

MVP Pick: Cody Bellinger, OF

Connor Grossman: Dodgers (five games)

The Braves' pitching has absolutely shoved ... against the Reds and Marlins, two feeble teams with the bats. The Dodgers will make Atlanta's arms mortal once again, and L.A. will advance to its third World Series in four years.

MVP Pick: Mookie Betts, OF

Matt Martell: Dodgers (six games)

It's Clayton Kershaw's year. He shuts down the fastball-mashing Braves lineup with an intoxicating dose of curveballs. Look for an especially strong series from Corey Seager to lead the first great offense Atlanta faces this postseason.

MVP Pick: Corey Seager, SS

Michael Shapiro: Dodgers (seven games)

The Braves have the bats to keep up with the Dodgers, and Atlanta sports a dynamic collection of arms in the bullpen. But can the young starters really keep rolling at such a dominant pace? Los Angeles should have far greater success than Miami and Cincinnati against Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright. A 2017 rematch awaits in the Fall Classic. 

MVP Pick: Mookie Betts, OF