The divisional series round has come and gone, with plenty of entertaining games and teams showing why they deserve to be playing in October. There were two sweeps, one in each league, and two series' that lasted four games, so there were no series that were really close. There are now only four teams remaining, but a whole lot of baseball to still be played. Let's take a look at the Championship series for each league, and what to expect in the near future.
Dodgers vs. Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers took quick care of the Colorado Rockies in a 3-0 series sweep, headlined by Mike Moustakas' walk-off single in Game 1. The Brew Crew outscored Colorado 13-2 throughout three games, which is due to extraordinary pitching and timely hitting. Moustakas, Ryan Braun, and Travis Shaw all batted over .350, and Christian Yelich's 2-run homer and crucial walk in the 10th inning in Game 1 help propel Milwaukee to victory. Catcher Erik Kratz was the unsung hero in Game 2, knocking in 2 RBI's in a 4-0 Milwaukee win, and Game 3 saw Jesus Aguilar, Orlando Arcia, and Keon Broxton hitting solo home runs en route to a 6-0 Brewers win. The real story of the series was Milwaukee's pitching, as Colorado only scored two runs in the entire series. They relied heavily on their bullpen, it didn't disappoint, as Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader were all outstanding. Their starters also took care of business, as Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley, and Brandon Woodruff were all excellent as well.
The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in their series, as the lone loss was in Game 3 when phenom Ronald Acuna smashed a grand slam. The long-ball helped Los Angeles win this series, as many batters posted mediocre batting averages, and only three players batted above .200 (with more than 5 at bats). Manny Machado batted .176 but hit 2 home runs and had 6 RBI's, and Max Muncy only had 2 hits in the entire series but both of them were dingers. Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, and Enrique Hernandez all hit one homer each. Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig were the only two players to hit over .300, with .357 and .333 averages, respectively. Where the Brewers relied more on their relievers, the Dodgers' starters played a bigger role in the series, led by shutouts in Games 1 and 2. Hyun-Jin Ryu was excellent in Game 1, posting 8 strikeouts in 7 innings, and Clayton Kershaw performed marvelously, giving up only 2 hits in 8 innings of work in Game 2. Kenley Jansen completed all of his save opportunities, and Ryan Madson and Pedro Baez were both lights-out in relief.
These are without a doubt the best two teams in the National League, and this series will be an exciting one to watch. Both of these teams have to ability to light up the scoreboard and to shut you out. One thing to note; Milwaukee is on a major hot streak, as they haven't lost since September 22nd and are on a 12 game win streak. Their relief pitching has been incredible and the bats are capable of some serious damage with players like Yelich and Aguilar leading the way. Because of their momentum and their underrated pitching, I have the Brew Crew advancing to the World Series.
Prediction: Brewers in 6
Astros vs. Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox boast the best record out of these four teams, and proved why in a 3-1 series win over the New York Yankees. J.D. Martinez had a great series, batting .357 with a home run and 6 RBI's, and everyone else in the offense contributed almost equally over those fours games. The most impressive and dominant game we've seen in the playoffs belongs to the Red Sox and their 16-1 demolition in Game 3 in New York. This included Brock Holt recording the first ever cycle in postseason history along with 5 RBI's, Andrew Benintendi hitting a key 3-run triple, and Martinez and Mookie Betts nabbing 2 RBI's each. The pitching in that game was great as well, as Nathan Eovaldi continued his string of great performances against the Yankees and only gave up 5 hits and 1 run over 7 innings. The strong pitching continued into Game 4, where Rick Porcello had a good start and Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, and Chris Sale (who received the win for Game 1) were perfect in relief. Craig Kimbrel made things interesting in the 9th, but was able to pull it together and clinch the series for the Sox. It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with David Price, as he had another mediocre playoff start in Game 2, and rumors have been circulating that he may be sent to the bullpen.
The Houston Astros had a very dominant series against the Cleveland Indians, recording a 3-0 sweep and reminding fans why they truly are the team to beat this year. Alex Bregman had an unbelievable 3 games, recording 5 hits with 2 home runs and 9 RBI's and made a bigger case for AL MVP in the process. George Springer launched three dingers, and Marwin Gonzalez had 7 hits and 5 RBI's. Three of these came in an 11-3 blowout in Game 3 which clinched the series for the 'Stros. Just like the Red Sox, everyone contributed on offense, and the pitching was just as dominant. Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel both had quality starts, while off-season acquisition Gerrit Cole shined during Game 2, striking out 12 over 7 innings and getting the win. Lance McCullers Jr. was used in the bullpen during the three game stint, and was lights-out in each appearance. Closer Roberto Osuna was also electric and recorded a save, quieting doubters of Houston's bullpen.
It is widely believed that whoever wins this series will go on to win the World Series, and that is definitely plausible. Both of these teams have high-powered offenses and all-around incredible pitching staffs. In many ways, this series could be high-scoring or full of pitcher's duels, but I believe the Astros do have the pitching edge, as their primarily right-handed lineup matches up well with lefty pitchers like Sale and Price. The Astros have also performed better on the mound than the Sox as of late, as Price and Kimbrel have struggled. This is going to be a very close and very entertaining series, but I ultimately believe that Houston's advantages will lead them to a second straight World Series appearance.