2017 MLB Postseason
The playoffs are off to a thrilling start. We have already witnessed two ALDS series go the distance. Baseball fans have already been blessed with shocking upsets and dramatic comebacks. Perhaps the most shocking occurrence is the Yankees. Having knocked out the world series favorite Cleveland Indians, many are shocked to see the Yankees in the playoffs, let alone advancing the the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers will compete with the Astros to advance to the World Series. Over in the NL we have a great match up between the defending world champion Chicago Cubs and the best regular season team, the LA Dodgers.
New York Yankees
As a long time Red Sox fan, it pains me to say the Yankees are onto the ALCS. Meanwhile, the Red Sox and their fans are forced to sit at home and watch. I must give credit where it is due, and the Yankees deserve a lot. They entered the season with low expectations. They have taken the league by storm this year, leaving their fans both surprised and ecstatic. This team has a great offense, solid starting rotation and a tremendously talented and deep bullpen. I think their greatest asset lies elsewhere– this team has collective mental toughness. They trailed the best team in baseball 2-0, and the game 2 loss was not pretty. It was impressive to see a young team come back to win 3 straight against a talented and well coached team. Props to the young guys of the Yankees for not hanging their heads and giving up after game 2.
This team seems well-rounded, without any glaring weaknesses. I am still skeptical of their pitching staff. They lack a true ace. Tanaka has filled the role in previous years, but has been inconsistent this year. He was dominant in his lone start this postseason, throwing 7 innings and giving up just 3 hits and 0 runs. Sabathia has pitched well most of the year, but simply is not the guy he once was. Severino had a great year, but lacks playoff experience. He was knocked around in one of his two starts. Sonny Gray is clearly a talented pitcher, but has yet to string together multiple strong outings since becoming a Yankee. Luckily this rotation is backed by one of the strongest bullpens imaginable. The other weakness I see in this team is their ability to win on the road. The Yankees were 40-41 away from Yankee Stadium this year. It is going to be tough to win a best of seven series if they cannot win some road games.
This team is strong inevery relevant category. Their strength is simply winning baseball games with a dominant offense. There is not a flaw in this teams lineup. This team has top of the order hitters 1-9. Houston lead the MLB in batting average, runs scored, doubles, total bases, OBP, SLG, OPS and were second in home runs. This is one of the best offenses in the history of the MLB. It is not just the power numbers that are impressive for this team, Houston’s batters had the fewest strikeouts in the league this year and stole the eighth most bases. The Astros could very well ride their dynamic offense to a world series title. They have a very strong pitching staff lead by Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. There is some serious depth to this pitching staff as well. After their top two, they have Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton, three very reliable guys. This team will be a daunting task for the Yankees.
This team does not have any real weaknesses, save for one–their sub par bullpen. Houston’s pen ranked 17th in the MLB with a 4.27 ERA. However, Houston rarely has to rely on their bullpen thanks to their offense often giving them comfortable leads. The Astros played very well down the stretch, and continued their success into the ALDS series against the Red Sox. They do not a have a real weakness for the Yankees to expose. New York will simply have to out-slug Houston if they want to move onto the world series.