MLB Playoffs 2022: Updated Playoff Picture and World Series Predictions
The 12-team Major League Baseball postseason field was set on Monday night.
The Philadelphia Phillies locked up the final one of three wild-card berths in the National League with their win over the Houston Astros.
The final two days of the regular season will now be about seeding in the Wild Card Round and resting some key players as the postseason approaches on Friday.
Philadelphia is in a fight with the San Diego Padres for the No. 5 seed in the NL. The New York Mets are on track to be the No. 4 seed after falling short in their weekend series with the Atlanta Braves.
The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays are in a similar fight in the American League for a No. 5 seeding that comes with a trip to Toronto in the Wild Card Round.
The Cleveland Guardians and St. Louis Cardinals will host the respective No. 6 seeds in their leagues as the division winners with the worst regular-season records.
Atlanta's clinching of the NL East is the only thing left to be finalized within the top two seeds in each league. It needs one win or one Mets loss over the next two days to officially lock into the No. 2 seed in the NL.
American League Playoff Picture
1. Houston (104-56)
2. New York Yankees (98-61)
3. Cleveland (90-70)
4. Toronto (91-69)
5. Seattle (87-72)
6. Tampa Bay (86-74)
The American League bracket should be set in stone by Tuesday night.
Houston and the New York Yankees have the first-round byes. The Astros will play the winner of the Toronto wild-card series and the Yankees get the victor of the Cleveland series.
Cleveland will play at home as the No. 3 overall seed in the AL against either the Mariners or Rays. Toronto is awaiting a similar decision as the host of the No. 4-versus-No. 5 series.
Seattle plays a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. All the Mariners need is one win from those two games to lock into the No. 5 seed.
A Seattle-Toronto matchup would mark the return of Mariners ace Robbie Ray to Toronto and set up a few intriguing pitching showdowns between Ray, Luis Castillo and Logan Gilbert for Seattle against Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios for Toronto.
Corey Kluber could go back to his former home ballpark with the Rays if they are locked into the No. 6 seed. He was part of Cleveland's success that culminated in a World Series berth in 2016.
The Guardians took two of three games at home against the Rays last week, but two of those contests went into extra innings.
Tampa Bay's X-factor in that potential series would be Tyler Glasnow, who pitched in his second start back in the majors after Tommy John surgery on Monday. He struck out seven in 3.2 innings, and he will play some type of role in the series that begins on Friday.
Tampa Bay-Cleveland could have the most electric pitching matchups of the wild-card round. Shane McClanahan, Kluber and Glasnow reside at the top of the Rays roster. Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber could be called upon to win the first two games and avoid a Game 3.
National League Playoff Picture
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (110-50)
2. Atlanta (100-60)
3. St. Louis (92-68)
4. New York Mets (98-61)
5. San Diego (88-72)
6. Philadelphia (87-73)
The National League playoff field is set, but two details still have to be confirmed.
Atlanta is in great position to secure the NL East title, but it needs one win over Miami in the next two days, or one Mets loss to be crowned the division champion.
The Braves put themselves in that position by sweeping the Mets at home over the weekend.
New York plays a home doubleheader against Washington on Tuesday and then has one more game with the Nationals on Wednesday. The Mets have to be perfect in that three-game set just to have a chance at the division crown.
The Mets are likely headed for a wild-card series with the San Diego Padres. That matchup would feature Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell on the mound.
San Diego needs one more Philadelphia loss combined with a win at home against San Francisco to book its tickets to New York.
The Phillies secured the final NL playoff berth with a win over the Astros on Monday. That victory also eliminated the Milwaukee Brewers from playoff contention.
Houston is gearing its team up for the ALDS by throwing Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Philadelphia is likely headed to St. Louis for a clash with the NL Central champion unless it wins both remaining games in Houston and gets help from the Giants in San Diego.
World Series Prediction
Dodgers vs. Astros
There are so many terrific stories across baseball entering the postseason, but let's not forget the dominant teams at the top of both leagues.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have two of the deepest and most experienced teams in baseball and that should help them get back to the World Series.
Houston almost has too much pitching on its roster. Verlander, Valdez and Lance McCullers Jr. form a solid trio at the start of the rotation. Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia will be waiting in the wings for long relief appearances or spot starts.
Houston's pitching depth combined with its experience at the top of the order, led by Jose Altuve, will be hard for anyone to beat.
The New York Yankees are the biggest threat to Houston, but they went 2-5 against the reigning AL champion in the regular season.
Houston does not have to give Aaron Judge a lot of pitches to hit, and the rest of the Yankees order could be tasked with beating the Astros, which is a tough task for any team at full strength.
Los Angeles has been the best team in baseball all season and the addition of Freddie Freeman, who won the World Series with Atlanta last year, should only help its order deal with the strong pitching staffs it will encounter in the NL bracket.
The Dodgers will likely have to go through either the Padres or Mets to reach the NLCS, where the Braves could be waiting for a rematch.
Los Angeles' edge over any team will be in its starting pitching depth. Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias are the experienced anchors of the rotation. Tyler Anderson, Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney could give the Dodgers the edge over the Braves, Mets and Padres.
All five of Los Angeles' starting pitchers have an ERA under three and they could allow the lineup to open up a multi-run lead, which would leave out the possibility of Craig Kimbrel blowing a save in a key situation.
Los Angeles' X-factor could be David Price. He earned a save on Thursday in his first game off the injured list and threw a scoreless frame the next night.
The Dodgers having a former Cy Young winner potentially close postseason games is a testament to how deep their roster is and how players can fit in different roles to allow for the most success possible.
Los Angeles is also likely driven by getting back to the World Series and establishing its dominance. The Dodgers only have one ring to show for their recent run of success. But the same can be said about the Astros, who last won in 2017.