World Series 2020 Odds: Breaking Down Chances of Final 4 Teams Remaining
The 16-team playoff field has been reduced to four. A pair of clubs from the National League and a couple more from the American League harbor a shot at hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy.
So, who will it be?
Let's offer an answer, using the results thus far, a dollop of informed speculation and odds provided by DraftKings.
At this point, anything can happen. The 2020 campaign, like the year itself, has been nothing if not unpredictable.
Will that stop us from making predictions? No, it will not.
The Houston Astros finished the season at a mediocre 29-31 and slipped into the postseason only because the American League West was a weak division and the playoff field was expanded.
Despite the fact that ace Justin Verlander and closer Roberto Osuna were sidelined by injury, the 'Stros beat the American League Central champion Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Series. Then they did away with the Oakland Athletics in the division series.
"I know a lot of people are mad," shortstop Carlos Correa told reporters after he and his cohorts knocked out the Twinkies. "I know a lot of people don't want to see us here. But what are they gonna say now?"
The Astros are playing the heel in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that tarnished the franchise and rocked the sport this offseason. No one aside from hardcore Houston boosters is rooting for them.
That said, manager Dusty Baker's bunch is four wins away from a World Series appearance.
The condition of Zack Greinke's arm is a question, though he did throw 4.2 innings in Game 4 of the ALDS against Oakland. And the Astros lost a 2-1 nail-biter in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Perhaps you're rooting against them. If so, you aren't alone.
But at this point, Houston's title hopes are alive and kicking...like it or not.
Odds: +700 (bet $100 to win $700)
Atlanta won the National League East with a 35-25 record and plus-60 run differential.
The club boasted the best OPS in the game (.832) thanks to a lineup anchored by Ronald Acuna Jr., Marcell Ozuna and NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman.
There were questions in the starting rotation after burgeoning ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending Achilles injury, but an experienced bullpen and the return of ace Max Fried from an ankle injury sparked a Wild Card Series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.
Atlanta handled the upstart Miami Marlins in the division series and enters the National League Championship Series with an undefeated-October headwind.
They're unlikely to stay that way against the loaded Los Angeles Dodgers, who bring more firepower on the mound and in the batter's box than either of Atlanta's previous postseason foes.
Acuna and Co. will make noise. Some combination of Fried, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright, with the backing of the pen, should help Atlanta.
Enough to unseat the Dodgers? Don't count them out.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays won the American League East by seven games over the New York Yankees, swept the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series and defeated the Yanks in five games in a hotly contested division series clash.
On Sunday, Tampa Bay won Game 1 of its ALDS meeting with the much-maligned Astros and further established its role as a 2020 villain slayer.
The Rays ranked third in baseball during the regular season with a 3.56 ERA and boast a deep and talented lineup.
They aren't laden with stars, but Cuban sensation Randy Arozarena (13-for-31, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR) has been an October revelation, the bullpen is filled with radar-gun-singeing gunslingers and both Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow top a strong rotation.
Tampa Bay is well-equipped to knock off the 'Stros. After that, they'll be a worthy opponent for either the Dodgers or Atlanta and could easily win the first title in its franchise history.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers posted the best record (43-17) and run differential (plus-136) in either league. They dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers in two games in the Wild Card Series.
Atlanta, as mentioned, will give them a test. The clubs didn't face one another during the regular season thanks to the oddities of the 2020 schedule.
The Dodgers won't be afraid, though. They boast a superlative lineup, a stacked rotation and a bullpen that led the NL with a 2.74 ERA.
Mookie Betts (7-for-19) is a difference-maker on offense, and Clayton Kershaw looks like a man on a mission with 19 strikeouts in 14 postseason frames.
Both Los Angeles and Atlanta are 5-0 in the playoffs with identical plus-19 run differentials. One club will falter.
We're betting on L.A. to survive this test and hold a trophy aloft for the first time since 1988.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.