The Wild Card games are done – we had one thriller, and one firm win – and it’s time for my annual Sure To Be Wrong MLB Playoff Predictions. It’s that time of the year when you read the picks, and then bet your family fortune on the exact opposite results.
Except, here’s the thing… this sort of came out of nowhere, and I’m not sure how to handle it… but last year the Sure To Be Wrong MLB Playoff Predictions were, uh, not very wrong. Somehow I correctly picked three of the four division series, and nailed the Red Sox as World Series Champions.
So maybe hang on to that family fortune, and keep it invested in bitcoin or Microsoft stock or Mike Trout rookie cards or whatever. You never know what’s going to happen in these playoffs.
We’ll start with the ex-Rainiers on the playoff teams, and then get to the picks. At blog post publish time, the NL teams had announced their 25-man rosters for the Division Series, but the AL teams had not.
New York Yankees: Former Rainiers lefty James Paxton is not only on the Yankees roster, but he was announced as the Game One starter for Friday night. After a rocky first couple of months with his new team, the switch flipped for Paxton and he was terrific down the stretch with four straight starts in September allowing one run or fewer. He could really shine in the playoffs.
Minnesota Twins: The two ex-Rainiers with the Twins are not locks for the playoff roster. Reliever Ryne Harper (2017 Rainiers) faded a bit down the stretch and his spot is not secure. Outfielder Ian Miller does not expect to make the playoff roster, but he may get to travel with the team as a potential replacement in case of injuries – we’ll look for him in the dugout. Miller, by the way, did get his first MLB hit last week.
Houston Astros: The best team in the majors, the Astros do not have any former Rainiers on their 40-man roster. Let’s not read too much into that, OK?
Tampa Bay Rayniers: These are our boys. Because of all of the trades that Jerry Dipoto has made with Tampa, there are lots of ex-Rainiers on the Rays. They had four former Rainiers active for the Wild Card game last night, and could add more when the Division Series roster is announced tomorrow. Pitchers Emilio Pagan (2016-2017 Rainiers) and Chaz Roe (2011), first baseman Ji-Man Choi (2013-2015), and catcher Mike Zunino (2013, 2015-2018) were active in the Wild Card game. They could add reliever Andrew Kittredge (2013, 2015-2016) and outfielder Guillermo Heredia (2016, 2018) for the Division Series.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Chris Taylor redemption continues, as the former Rainiers infielder/outfielder has maintained his strong performance since rebuilding his swing after being traded by the Mainers.
Washington Nationals: Get in the way-back machine, because Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera played for the Rainiers in 2005 and 2006. He’s had a very nice career. Nats reliever Hunter Strickland pitched in a couple of rehab games for Tacoma this season before being traded to DC. And while not a former Rainier, outfielder Adam Eaton will forever be known at Cheney Stadium for being the first player after the ballpark’s 2010-11 renovation to hit a foul ball at my head and into the new radio booth, which he did in 2013 as a member of the Reno Aces. I ducked that one, Adam. Will you be able to duck when I get my revenge? Will you?
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals do not have any former Rainiers on the playoff roster. Outfielder Tyler O’Neill was in the majors with them for much of the season, but he did not make the cut for the Division Series. I believe he is travelling with them in case of injury, in which case he could be activated.
Atlanta Braves: None. They do have a former enemy of the Rainiers in Josh Donaldson, going back to his three years in Sacramento, 2010-2012.
And on to the Sure To (Possibly) Be Wrong MLB Playoff Picks:
AL Division Series
Yankees vs Twins: The Twins broke the MLB record for home runs with 307. The Yankees hit 306. Not sure you guys are aware, but the baseball was juiced to the gills this year. These teams could hit 25+ home runs in a five-game series. I’m picking the upset: the Twins have been surprising people all year. Twins in four.
Astros vs Rays: Most of us are probably rooting for the Rays. All of those former Tacoma players, plus the fact that they are not the Astros. But I can’t pick my Rayniers to win this series. They’re going to get chewed up and spit out by the Astros machine. Astros in three.
NL Division Series
Dodgers vs Nationals: The Nationals have the starting pitching to give the Dodgers a fight. The Nationals do not have the bullpen to finish the job. Dodgers in five.
Braves vs Cardinals: Unless you are a longtime Braves or Cardinals fan, this is probably the series you care about the least. The Braves are young and exciting, and they brought in two seasoned free agents to lead them (Donaldson and Dallas Kuechel). The Cardinals always seem to win these things. Both teams have annoying fan bases. Let’s take the youthful Braves in five.
Al Championship Series
Twins vs Astros: Those Twins were so surprising this year, belting all of those homers and winning 101 games. They will not win this series. The Astros chew up another opponent, Verlander strikes out 17 in a game, Astros in five.
NL Championship Series
Braves vs Dodgers: This will be an instant classic series, tense all the way through, with the Braves taking it when they rally against a relieving Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game Seven. Braves in seven.
Braves vs Astros: Hopes for a great series are dashed when the Braves, tired after a grueling seven-game grind against the Dodgers, don’t even score a run until Game Three. The machine has to eat. Astros in four.
Enjoy the playoffs!
- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto detailed his exact offseason plan to the Seattle Times.
- The News Tribune lists ten winter storylines for the Mariners.
- Congratulations to former Rainiers manager Pat Listach, who won a Mexican League championship last night with his Monclova club. They overcame a three games to two deficit by taking the final two games against Yucatan, and they trailed 5-2 in Game Seven before coming back to win it. Video of the final out is here, with Pat running into the pile at the 35 second mark.