The baseball playoffs technically got underway on Tuesday with the wild card games, but the League Division Series get underway on Thursday as the postseason gets off to a full start.
Several series are packed with intrigue, including the battle between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals, as the Cubs look to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as World Series champions.
So who will win, and who will be heading home after the first round? Here are our predictions for the League Division Series.
American League Division Series:
Astros Over Red Sox – 3 Games
The Astros have all the pieces needed to be a serious contender for a title. They’re loaded with young talent, have strong arms in their rotation, and they can win games in a variety of ways. They’re for real, and we’re looking to them to dispose of the Red Sox with relative ease.
Indians Over Yankees – 5 Games
The other series in the American League is a bit more of a toss-up, but the Indians should come out on top. They’re healthier than they were a season ago when they came within one win of a World Series title, and that postseason experience should benefit them as they battle an upstart Yankees team that turned a lot of heads this season.
National League Division Series:
Dodgers Over Diamondbacks – 5 Games
The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers during their season series, but we’re still going with Los Angeles to win a slugfest here. The Dodgers came into the season as one of the favorites to win a championship, and with Clayton Kershaw back in the mix and some incredible bats in their lineup, we’re picking them to advance to the NLCS.
Cubs Over Nationals – 4 Games
The Cubs are not the runaway favorite to win a title that they were a season ago, but we’re picking them to figure out how to beat a very talented Washington team. They have pop throughout their lineup, have some strong arms at the end of their bullpen, and their loaded with playoff experience after back-to-back deep runs.