What playoff series are you most interested in watching?
That's a tough one. I think they all hold their own intrigue. Great match ups! If you forced me to pick I'd say Astros/Red Sox. Houston floundered a bit during the dog days when George Springer was on the DL. In September though the bats really heated up. I can't wait to see them face Chris Sale, who really struggled in September. The Verlander trade has worked out very well for them. Great game one match up.
How do you think it will play out?
We'll see how correct I am:
Tribe over Yankees
Astros over Red Sox
Cubs over Nats
Diamondbacks over Dodgers
Astros over Tribe
Diamondbacks over Cubs
Astros World Champions
All that said I hope I'm wrong. I would love to see Cleveland finish the job. The Astros acquiring Justin Verlander tips the scale slightly toward them. I hope I'm wrong. Obviously the Tribe are very familiar with him.
Which team is your biggest lock to advance to the next round?
I can't pick against the Tribe, especially after Luis Severino suffered a rare blow up Tuesday in the Wild Card game. I'm sure the Yankees are very concerned that their young ace may not have yet developed the fortitude for the post season stage. I love Cleveland tapping Trevor Bauer in game one. If he suffers one of his meltdowns or cuts his finger playing with Tinker Toys, Cleveland has Corey Kluber to clamp down in game two. The Yanks are countering with former A's hurler Sonny Grey in game one. He's good, but not great. CC Sabathia is set for game two. He had a nice bounce back season, but he's no longer the guy we remember. Do the Yankees turn to Severino or Tanaka in game three? Tanaka gave up 35 bombs this year. 35! I really like the Indians to move on. The bats are just too hot and the pitching matches up nicely
Any upsets brewing?
Current form is important I think. I like Arizona to knock off the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks played well down the stretch. The trade for J.D. Martinez was the best of the season. He's been raking and is a nightmare for lefties especially. Since returning from the DL meanwhile Clayton Kershaw has been less than himself. After an incredible first half, Alex Wood fell apart in the second. Does anyone ever know what Rich Hill has? If that curve ain't curving he has nothing. Yu Darvish has been very hittable at times. What do Kershaw, Wood and Hill have in common? All lefties. The Dodgers have to keep a lid on Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt. I don't see it happening. The Dodgers won the division handily, but one has to wonder about any team who lost 15 of 16 games as L.A. did late in the year
Any under the radar players you think could have a major affect on any of the series?
An unlikely hero always seems to emerge in the post season. It's a tough question to answer as I write because managers haven't yet locked their division series rosters. The Cubs Tommy LaStella and Albert Almora Junior are both role players who had nice years. They won't play a lot, but I like them as pinch hitters. Almora hits lefties well so I certainly see him starting against Gio Gonzalez in the division series. Arizona veteran catcher Chris Ianetta hit .210 with 7 home runs with Seattle last year. Following "The Law of the Ex-Mariner" the 34 year old turned in a most unexpected offensive season in 2017. 17 home runs. Hit .254. He was swinging it well enough that Arizona was batting him second at times toward the end of the year. He's yet another D-Back who abuses lefties. A tough out of late from an unexpected player. Also of note: His fellow Arizona catcher Jeff Mathis is among the worst hitters in baseball (lifetime .198)... except in the post season. For what it's worth he's hit .417 when it counts most in 23 career playoff at bats.
Brian Phillips hosts The Morning Show on CD1025 in Columbus and plays in multiple fantasy baseball leagues.