MLB Playoffs 2021: Updated Championship Series, Bracket, Schedule, Predictions

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2021

MLB Playoffs 2021: Updated Championship Series, Bracket, Schedule, Predictions

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Dodgers exploded back into the NLCS Thursday night with a decisive, dominant victory over the Atlanta Braves that had the home team's fans remembering disappointing postseasons of years past. An uphill climb awaits the reigning world champions, who still need two win two more against the Braves in order to advance.

    In the ALCS, the Houston Astros are one win away from sending the Boston Red Sox home and returning to the World Series for the third time in the last decade.

    With the Fall Classic upcoming and championship aspirations in view for the postseason's four remaining teams, prepare for the upcoming games with this look at the updated bracket, schedule and predictions for the remainder of the championship series.

ALCS Bracket and Schedule

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Friday, October 22

    ALCS Game 6 (HOU leads 3-2):

    Red Sox at Astros, 8:08 p.m, FS1

       

    Saturday, October 23

    ALCS Game 7 (if necessary):

    Red Sox at Astros, 8:08 p.m., Fox

      

    Following a game 3 blowout loss, it appeared as though the Astros would not have the opportunity to make it back to the World Series, the victims of a red-hot Red Sox club. Instead, Houston has fired back, setting up back-to-back opportunities at home to eliminate Boston and cash their ticket to their third Fall Classic since 2017.

    Nathan Eovaldi (5.51 ERA, 2-1 in the postseason) gets the nod on the mound for the Sox while Luis Garcia (24.55, 0-1) will look to deliver Houston the pennant.

ALCS Prediction

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Red Sox vs. Astros

    Momentum is on the side of the Astros, who demolished Boston 9-1 in game 5. They brushed off the early offensive by the Red Sox and ramping up the offense, outscoring the opposition 18-3 in the last two games. There is no reason to believe Houston will not continue that trend, just one win away from returning to a Fall Classic that has become their playground in recent years.

    Houston hitters Jose Altuve, Jason Castro and Carlos Correa have fueled the offensive output while the bullpen has stymied opposing hitters.

    The Astros have two opportunities to put the Red Sox away in front of their home fans, but why subject themselves to the added pressure of a game 7, where anything can happen and fates can be changed with a single swing of the bat?

    Expect Houston to finish off the gutsy Red Sox Friday night and await the winner of the NLCS.

         

    Prediction: Astros in 6

NLCS Bracket and Schedule

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Saturday, October 23

    NLCS Game 6 (ATL leads 3-2):

    Dodgers at Braves, 5:08 p.m., TBS

       

    NLCS Game 7 (if necessary):

    Dodgers at Braves, 7:38 p.m., TBS

       

    On the verge of elimination, the defending world champion Dodgers exploded with a flurry of offense as they survived game 5 against the Braves Thursday night, winning 11-2 in a game that was somehow less competitive than the score indicated.

    Still down a game and facing elimination, the team will look to Max Scherzer (2.16 ERA, 0-1 in the postseason) to help continue their championship aspirations Saturday in Atlanta. Ian Anderson (2.25, 1-0) takes the mound for a Braves team looking to get back to the World Series for the first time since 1999.

NLCS Prediction

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Dodgers vs. Braves

    The Braves entered this offseason with years of disappointing playoff results hanging overhead like a pregnant grey cloud. The team, as history tells us, has not advanced past the division series since 2001. Losing 11-2 Thursday did not help lift any spirits from longtime fans fully aware of the team's postseason struggles.

    Sure, Atlanta has made it as far as they have since losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks 20 years ago, but the last thing its fans wanted to see was a Dodgers team come to life in the manner it did in game 5. Chris Taylor blasted three home runs to power Los Angeles to an insurmountable lead and put the world champs in a position to defend their titles in this year's Fall Classic.

    Even if they manage to win Saturday night in Atlanta, though, the Dodgers still face a seemingly unrealistic challenge of winning one more, a total of three straight, to cash their ticket to the World Series.

    The Braves are a different team than years past, too.

    The bullpen is better and the offense sure as hell is. Throw in what is sure to be a raucous home field advantage and this Atlanta team appears destined to face a different postseason outcome than teams prior.

        

    Prediction: Braves in 6

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