MLB Playoff Bracket 2013: Breaking Down the Road to the World Series
The 2013 MLB playoffs are just around the corner, but the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers—currently tied for the second wild-card spot—need to play a game first to determine which team advances past the regular season.
The Rangers will host the Rays on Monday night for a one-game tiebreaker. The Rangers went 2-2 against the Rays in Florida in the second half.
I have the Rays shocking the Rangers in Texas, given a better run in September, but how will the rest of the playoffs play out up until the World Series?
Here are my predictions.
*Playoff bracket can be found at MLB.com
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians (Wild Card)
The Rays are 4-2 against the Indians this season, but the last time the two teams played was on June 2.
A lot has happened since then. The Indians are 41-26 in the second half of the season. During this time, they rank second in the American League in team ERA and sixth in runs. That includes winning their last 10 ballgames.
Meanwhile, giving up a combined 19 runs in their last three games against the Toronto Blue Jays doesn't bode well for the Rays.
Prediction: Indians Advance
Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox
This is where I see the Indians' run ending.
The Red Sox have gone 6-1 against Cleveland this season. That includes sweeping the Indians in Cleveland.
Boston has the offense to uproot Cleveland. The Red Sox rank first in the American League in runs this season. That includes ranking first in the second half.
Combined with solid pitching (ranked sixth in the AL in team ERA), I think Boston has enough to advance past this matchup.
Prediction: Red Sox Advance
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics
The Athletics have won three of the last four games against the Tigers, and that was in Detroit.
But I like the Tigers' starting pitching better. The Tigers' pitching in general has also been impressive in the second half, ranked third in the AL in ERA.
Detroit also has more talent offensively, ranked second in the league in runs scored this season. The last series against the Miami Marlins was ugly, but I still see the Tigers' starting pitching handing them a hard-fought series win over the Athletics in the playoffs.
Prediction: Tigers Advance
Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
Who will advance to the World Series?
The Tigers may rank third in the AL in team ERA this season, but that didn't stop them from losing two of three to the Red Sox in Boston in the second half of the season.
Boston posted a 53-28 mark at home this season (third in baseball, first in the AL). That included ranking second in the league in runs scored at home and fourth in ERA at home.
In what should be a tight-knit series, I see the Red Sox edging the Tigers and advancing to the World Series.
Prediction: Red Sox Advance to the World Series
Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (Wild Card)
Getting swept by the Pirates in Cincinnati is certainly cause for concern for the Reds.
Then again, the Reds won four of six against the Pirates before that. They have also been better than the Pirates offensively and on the mound overall since the All-Star break.
Johnny Cueto has looked good since returning from injury. I think he ultimately makes a big difference for the Reds in the playoffs. In 12.1 innings against the Pirates this season, he's allowed just three hits and one run.
Prediction: Reds Advance
Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals went 5-5 against the Reds in the second half of the season, but they went 2-1 at home. I think home-field advantage ends up being the difference here.
Both teams have pitched well this season, ranked in the top five in the National League in ERA. But the Cardinals do have the advantage offensively, ranked third in Major League Baseball in runs this season, including fourth in the category after the All-Star break.
This should be a fun series to watch. In the end, I'm giving it to St. Louis.
Prediction: Cardinals Advance
Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves
The Braves may be 5-2 against the Dodgers this season, but all of that came before the second half of the season.
The Dodgers entered Sunday's regular-season finale against the Colorado Rockies 45-22 in the second half. That includes ranking first in the NL in ERA and third in runs scored since the All-Star break.
This is a completely different Dodgers team than the one the Braves faced before. I think it will show.
Prediction: Dodgers Advance
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
Who will advance to the World Series?
The Cardinals finished the regular season on a roll, sweeping the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. They have won 10 of their last 12 games.
Not only do the Cardinals rank fifth in the NL in team ERA since the All-Star break, they also rank first in the league in runs since the halfway mark.
Add the fact that the Cardinals are 54-27 at home this season (second-best mark in baseball), and I see them advancing to the World Series.
Prediction: Cardinals Advance to the World Series
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