With a shortened 60-game season in 2020, the MLB Postseason has expanded to 16 teams, featuring eight Wild Card series to open the festivities. For each round, we will survey 11 of our staff members for their picks. Here is how it shook out for the opening round:
Tampa Bay Rays (40-20, 1st AL East) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (32-28, 3rd AL East)
PREDICTION: Tampa Bay in three games
The Rays have not made the World Series since 2008, and have not advanced past the ALDS in any of their three postseason appearances since. The 2020 season features one of the better teams they have had since that 2008 World Series, and our staff had confidence in Tampa’s ability to win their first postseason series in 12 years. Eight of the 11 people polled saw this series going three games.
Also receiving votes: none.
Oakland Athletics (36-24, 1st AL West) vs. Chicago White Sox (35-25, 3rd AL Central)
PREDICTION: Chicago in three games
The Athletics have had some solid teams over the past few years, but haven’t been able to put it all together when the games mattered most, including a 5-1 loss at home last season in the Wild Card Game. Chicago was a team that many thought would miss the postseason in 2020, but they put together a pretty solid season to qualify for the first time since 2008. Our team liked the White Sox, as five of their seven votes predicted a three game series.
Also receiving votes: Oakland (4).
Minnesota Twins (36-24, 1st AL Central) vs. Houston Astros (29-31, 2nd AL West)
PREDICTION: Minnesota in three games
The Twins are probably just happy to not be seeing the Yankees in the postseason, as six of their last seven postseason exits have come at the hands of the Bronx Bombers. Houston, despite the cheating scandal and the losing record in 2020, qualified with the new format. Minnesota received an overwhelming ten votes to win their first playoff series since 2002, with six calling for a three game series.
Also receiving votes: Houston (1).
Cleveland Indians (35-25, 2nd AL Central) vs. New York Yankees (33-27, 2nd AL East)
PREDICTION: New York in three games
Two of the more battle-tested teams in the American League playoff field, Cleveland and New York perhaps the most intriguing first round match-up. It was another injury-riddled season for the highly-talented Yankees, who enter with most of their roster now intact. Cleveland endured an eight-game losing streak in early September, and managed to qualify by winning nine of their last 11. Seven of our staff members voted for New York, with six forecasting a three game series.
Also receiving votes: Cleveland (4).
Los Angeles Dodgers (43-17, 1st NL West) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (29-31, 4th NL Central)
PREDICTION: Los Angeles in two games
The Dodgers cruised through yet another regular season en route to their eighth-consecutive division title. Los Angeles has the deepest roster among the teams remaining, and is the clear favorite to win their first World Series title since 1988. The Brewers are one of two teams in the field with a losing record, and did not look very impressive during the final week of the season. Every staff member polled picked the Dodgers to advance, with eight calling for a sweep.
Also receiving votes: none.
Atlanta Braves (35-25, 1st NL East) vs. Cincinnati Reds (31-29, 3rd NL Central)
PREDICTION: Cincinnati in three games
The Braves feature a high-powered offense, but a pitching rotation that is very thin. Atlanta was pretty consistent all throughout the shortened season, as they are trying to bounce back from a disappointing exit in the 2019 playoffs. Cincinnati will be a tough team to beat, as they won 11 of their final 14 games to qualify for the postseason. While they can’t match Atlanta offensively, they certainly have the better pitchers. Seven of the eleven voters had Cincinnati advancing, with five predicting the series go the distance.
Also receiving votes: Atlanta (4).
Chicago Cubs (34-26, 1st NL Central) vs. Miami Marlins (31-29, 2nd NL East)
PREDICTION: Chicago (tie in votes between two and three games)
The Miami Marlins have made the postseason three times in their franchise history. They won the World Series in their first two, with the third coming this year after a drought of 17 years. Miami has the worst run-differential out of any team in the playoffs at minus-41, making the Cubs favorites to win this series. Our staff leaned on the side of those numbers, as six voted for Chicago, with a split coming on the amount of games it will go.
Also receiving votes: Miami (5).
San Diego Padres (37-23, 2nd NL West) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (30-28, 2nd NL Central)
PREDICTION: San Diego in two games
The Padres were another team to break a long postseason drought, qualifying for the first time since 2006. The front office went all-in on this season, making multiple moves at the trade deadline in hopes of bolstering the roster for an October run. The Cardinals, who did not play a game for 16 days due to a COVID outbreak, managed to piece together enough wins to make it despite a very condensed schedule. While St. Louis has some intriguing pieces, San Diego has the more complete team. The Padres received ten votes, with seven calling for a sweep.
Also receiving votes: St. Louis (1).
(Cover Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)