Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
Oct. 11, 2018
Baseball is not generally thought of as exciting to watch, but the Major League Baseball postseason provides some of the most heart-racing moments in all of sports. After a surprising short Division Series where no series went the full five games, it’s on to the American League and National League Championship Series (ALCS; NLCS).
This should prove to be among the most entertaining pair of League Championships Series in recent memory. To get you ready for the action, here’s a preview of each series.
American League Championship Series —
Representing the American League are the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, the two best teams in baseball this season.
These clubs met last year in October, with Houston eliminating Boston in the AL Division Series (ALDS) en route to an eventual World Series victory.
Following the 3-1 series defeat, the Red Sox fired manager John Farrell, later replacing him with former Boston infielder Alex Cora. Cora’s presence adds some additional flare to the already intriguing matchup, as he was Houston’s bench coach in 2017.
While both teams boast elite talent throughout their rosters, arguably the most anticipated battle of this series will be between Astros pitching staff and Red Sox hitters.
At the top of its rotation, Houston has the former AL MVP and 2011 Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander, as well as 2015 Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel. Former Pirates starters Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton, both of whom are likely 2018 Cy Young candidates, make up the other half of the starting group.
Meanwhile, Boston’s lineup features two 2018 AL MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. That duo, especially with such a strong supporting cast around them, is a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
Hopefully, this ALCS makes it to seven games. There would be no better matchup than the reigning champs taking on the best team in baseball at historic Fenway Park to decide who represents the American League in the World Series.
National League Championship Series —
From the National League, we’ll be watching as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers duke it out. This matchup features two of MLB’s hottest squads right now.
After sweeping the Colorado Rockies, the Brewers are currently riding an 11-game winning streak. Their last loss came on September 22 against the Pirates, 3-0.
The Dodgers, after looking like they might miss the postseason altogether, were clutch down the stretch. They swept the San Francisco Giants to close their regular season schedule, beat the Rockies in a tiebreaker to win the NL West, and handily dispatched the upstart Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series (NLDS).
Whereas the ALCS possesses two big-market clubs, the NLCS is a sort of David vs. Goliath showdown. L.A. has the third-largest payroll in MLB, while Milwaukee is ranked 22nd.
While L.A.’s roster features big names like Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, Milwaukee’s has been every bit as good. In fact, considering their top-of-the-NL record this season, they’ve actually been better.
Former Miami Marlins outfielder and likely NL MVP Christian Yelich has thrived since arriving in Wisconsin. Lorenzo Cain, who won a World Series with the Kansas City Royals, has offered versatility and experience in addition to All-Star performance.
Rounding out the Milwaukee roster are the likes of former NL MVP Ryan Braun, 35-home run hitter Jesús Aguilar and human flamethrower Josh Hader.
They’ve been one of the best teams in baseball lately, but the Dodgers will prove to be one of the Brewers’ biggest challenges yet. L.A. is by far the deepest, most talented team the Brewers have faced since their win streak began.
Much like the ALCS, we’ll be hoping for a seven-game series here, too.