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2019 MLB Postseason Preview

Here’s what to expect from the opening round of Wild Card and League Division Series games

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

With the St. Louis Cardinals’ come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Cubs Sunday and the Milwaukee Brewers’ loss to the Colorado Rockies, plus the final season records of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics confirmed, the bracket for the opening round of the postseason is officially set.

Here’s what you need to know about the opening sets of games.

NL Wild Card Game: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals

Series Length: One Game

Gametime: Tuesday, October 1 at 8:08 p.m. ET

TV: TBS

The Brewers were unable to secure the NL Central title, so they’ll be forced to play an extra game in Tuesday’s Wild Card contest in Washington, D.C. The Nationals will host the Brewers in the single elimination affair as they finished the regular season with a better record. However, when solely looking at head-to-head records, the Brewers had the upper hand, winning four of the six games between the two teams and outscoring the Nats, 42-38.

Max Scherzer gets the nod for the Nats, while Brandon Woodruff is expected to go for the Brewers. If this were a five-game series, the Brewers might have the edge, but in a single-game showdown, it’s nearly impossible to vote against a team with Max Scherzer on the mound.

AL Wild Card Game: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics

Series Length: One Game

Gametime: Wednesday, October 2 at 8:09 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics both secured a Wild Card spot within minutes of each other, but both squads didn't know their official fate until the final day of the season, as the Athletics didn’t secure home-field advantage until Sunday. The Athletics had a slight advantage over the Rays this season, earning the win in four of the seven matchups between the two teams. However, Tampa Bay did outscore Oakland this season, 30-26.

The Rays will send No. 2 starter Charlie Morton to the mound as he has played quite well as of late. The A’s will deploy Sean Manaea, also not the primary starter but still a strong pitcher who can find the Rays’ weaknesses nonetheless. It’s hard to pick against the higher-seeded Athletics at home, but Charlie Morton and this impressive Rays team should get the job done.

NLDS: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

Series Length: Best-of-Five Series

Game 1: Thursday, October 3 at 5:02 PM EST or 6:02 PM EST

TV: TBS

In what should be the most exciting National League series of the opening set of games, the Braves play host for three of five games against the Cardinals. This season, the Braves beat the Cardinals four of the six times the teams played each other, with Atlanta outscoring St. Louis, 29-27. The Braves and St. Louis are pretty similar teams, with the Braves having perhaps a better unit of position players while the Cardinals have an edge in the pitching category.

The Cardinals, who didn’t clinch the NL Central title until their final game, should put up a fight against Atlanta, but in the end, don’t be surprised to see the Braves find their way into the NLCS. Of course, no matter who wins in the end, this series should be a fun one to watch. It could go all five games.

NLDS: MIL/WSH at Los Angeles Dodgers

Series Length: Best-of-Five Series

Game 1: Thursday, October 3 at 8:37 PM EST or 9:37 PM EST

TV: TBS

The Brewers or Nationals, no matter who wins, are in for a tough series against the first team to clinch a playoff berth, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The red-hot Dodgers, complete with a stacked roster, were 4-3 against the Brewers this season, while tying them in the score column, 27-27. Meanwhile, L.A. was also 4-3 against the Nationals this year, outscoring them 30-27.

The Dodgers have a great roster comprised of one of baseball’s best starting rotations and most star-studded infields and outfields, including MVP candidate, Cody Bellinger. From an edge in positional comparisons to home field advantage to season evidence, it’s pretty easy to predict the Dodgers advance to the NLCS.

ALDS: TB/OAK at Houston Astros

Series Length: Best-of-Five Series

Game 1: Friday, October 4 at 2:05 PM EST

TV: FS1/MLB

The Houston Astros played really great baseball all season long and they should continue to do so in the postseason. Against the Rays this season, they were 3-4, outscoring them 40-27. However, against their division-mates in the A’s, they were 11-8, with their 103 runs scored being a higher number than the A’s 75. The Astros have an amazing outfield in addition to baseball’s absolute best infield and starting rotation.

The Rays have a solid team with an impressive pitching staff, while the Athletics have a dynamite infield. But it’s unlikely either of them will be able to give the Astros a run for their money in this ALDS series which should see Houston punch their ticket to the ALCS.

ALDS: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees

Series Length: Best-of-Five Series

Game 1: Friday, October 4 at 7:07 PM EST

TV: FS1/MLB

Baseball’s most exciting opening series will be the one that kicks off last. The Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, tied for first and second in the 2019 home run totals with 307 and 306 dingers, respectively, should be neck-and-neck in a series that likely doesn’t see its outcome decided until the waning hours of Game 5. It’s worth noting that in these teams’ season series, Minnesota won two games while the Yankees won four. New York’s 43 runs in that series was greater than Minnesota’s 38.

The bats will be alive in this exciting series, so it will come down to whichever team best perfects their fielding and pitching — especially pitching. Right now, it seems like Minnesota has the edge there. Their pitching staff is electric while their fielders’ gloves are quite solid. Again, it’ll come down to Game 5, but the Twins should be able to pull away.