Matt’s Bats 2021 Postseason Predictions

MLB Twitter reacts to Giants clinching NL West division title | RSN
Will the San Francisco Giants, MLB’s biggest surprise of 2021, make it to the World Series this year? Photo via NBC Sports

October baseball IS HERE.

To state the obvious, it was not a fun year to be a Nats fan. The team got off to a slow start, heated up at the beginning of the summer, and after hitting a cold streak marred by injuries to some of the team’s best players, went through a fire sale in which the likes of Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, and Kyle Schwarber were sent to contending teams in exchange for minor league prospects. The Nats finished 65-97, good for last place in the NL East, even behind the Miami Marlins. They will pick fifth in next year’s draft. 

The Nats may have not had the best season, but it came with some fun moments. Juan Soto had a ridiculous month of September, Kyle Schwarber went on a historic home run tear in June, we experienced half of another Cy Young-caliber season for Max Scherzer, and Nats fans gave Ryan Zimmerman the proper sendoff in what could have been his final game in his illustrious career. 

Still, the Nats will not be playing baseball this October. That being said, these playoffs will still be full of many surprises and tense games, which every baseball fan should look forward to. Here are my predictions for how this postseason will unfold. 

AL Wild Card Game – New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

We missed out on a lot of exciting baseball when the Yankees and Red Sox both won on Sunday afternoon. If both teams had lost, and the Blue Jays would have still won their game against Baltimore, there would have been a tiebreaker game played today. I’m not all too disappointed, because our consolation prize is a winner-take-all, one game playoff between the two fiercest rivals in all of sports. This game is going to be an instant classic. The Yankees bring their powerful bats, quality pitching, and rally turtle to Fenway Park to take on the Red Sox, a team few expected to make it to the playoffs this year. Gerrit Cole, a Cy Young contender, gets the ball for New York, although he has struggled as of late. Nathan Eovaldi will pitch for the Sox. Both teams were quiet offensively this weekend, but in this high-octane matchup, I like the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers came out swinging in a recent series between the two teams at Fenway, and the Yankees swept their division rival with relative ease. The stakes are higher this time around, and it feels wrong to bet against Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton against a team with as little bullpen depth as Boston. I expect the two to keep it close, and to get really specific, Stanton will hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning. Regardless of the outcome, this is a must-watch baseball game. 

NL Wild Card Game – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Another really, really exciting game to look forward to. In early September, it looked like the Dodgers had a relatively easy path to a Wild Card game win, either facing the struggling Reds or the Padres, who the Dodgers had dominated all season long. Almost every Dodger in the starting lineup had incredible success at some point in recent memory. They bring out an All-Star team every night: Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock, and Walker Buehler. Oh, right, they also have Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, who they acquired at the deadline to make an already stacked team even better. Scherzer gets the nod in the Wild Card game, and he will bring his playoff intensity to Dodger Stadium for the first time. If the Wild Card game was decided on paper, it would be over before it began, and the Dodgers would be off to San Francisco to take on the Giants in the NLDS. But baseball doesn’t work that way. They’ll have to face the St. Louis Cardinals, the hottest team in baseball. It looks like the Cardinals’ October devil magic is back, my friends. I would not want to face this team right now. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are producing at the level Cards fans expected them to all season long. Their performances are helped by the breakouts of Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill, young players who add a huge spark to their lineup. The old guard is still there too–in fact, Mike Shildt is going to turn to his trustworthy ace, Adam Wainwright, in this game. Wainwright has had a resurgence this year himself, as has Yadier Molina. Call me crazy, but I’m embracing the chaos. Cardinals win. It’ll be on some fluky play late in the game, of course, but St. Louis will pull it off. 

AL Division Series – Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros

Hey, look, it’s the 2005 World Series all over again! This series is a tale of two very different teams–one upstart young ballclub with lots of marketable talent, the other a perennial winner embroiled in a massive cheating scandal. This will be a fun series, as every White Sox player wants to be the one to beat the cheaters (well, maybe everyone except Dallas Keuchel) and as the Astros want to quiet the haters and reclaim their legitimacy by winning a title fair and square. I’m looking forward to watching these two go at it this postseason, but in the end, I think the Astros have the upper hand. I like the postseason experience on the Astros’ roster, but more importantly, I don’t think the White Sox have been challenged enough in an awfully weak AL Central. Astros in 4 games. 

AL Division Series – New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

REMATCH! The Rays had the upper hand when the two teams squared off in last year’s playoffs, and I’m expecting another must-watch series this time around. The Rays have a potent offense and the deepest pitching staff in the league, even more impressive when you consider that the average casual baseball fan has likely never heard of many of the Rays’ pitchers. Wander Franco had a special rookie season, Andrew Kittredge developed into a trustworthy closer, and Randy Arozarena is a serious candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, everyone knows the Yankees’ best–Judge, Stanton, Rizzo, Gallo, Chapman, even people like Gleyber Torres and Nestor Cortes, who made legitimate names for themselves this season. Much to the dismay of Yankees fans, I think the Rays take the divisional series again. It must be really hard to manage against Kevin Cash and his wild bag of tricks, and Aaron Boone is not the experienced manager who can lead the Yankees to a series win over Tampa. The strategy of peppering the lineup with power bats might not work at cavernous Tropicana Field, where a majority of games are scheduled to be played. Rays in five games.

NL Division Series – Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers

The Braves won the NL East for the fourth straight year in 2021–or as is probably more accurate, the Braves were the least bad NL East team again. Braves fans probably know that their season was saved due to the Mets’ and Phillies’ collapses and Nationals and Marlins underperformances, and frankly, got lucky in a year where their best player got hurt with a torn ACL. That being said, the Braves are not a bad team at all. Never count out Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley is having an incredible breakout season, Max Fried has become the ace the Braves need, and Adam Duvall leads the league in RBIs. I’m not counting them out. I think they’re overmatched by the likes of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. Throw Acuna in the lineup and you’ve got yourself a really competitive series. Unfortunately, the Brewers pitching is just too strong. Brewers in a three-game sweep. 

NL Division Series – St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants

Here’s a series that nobody expected to see at the beginning of the year! The Giants were MLB’s biggest surprise this year, winning over 100 games and the division in a year where they were supposed to be rebuilding. I see them as a more experienced version of the Rays, with a lot of older players you forgot were still playing (Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, etc.) mixed in with younger players who you might have never heard of (Logan Webb, Lamonte Wade, etc.) and former role players who caught fire in San Francisco this year (Wilmer Flores, Kevin Gausman). What a weird team. The Cardinals are, of course, coming into this series on a hot streak, but the clock will strike midnight on St. Louis’s Cinderella run. Giants in four. 

AL Championship Series – Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays

I really don’t know if we can call the team with the AL’s best record “underdogs” anymore, but sometimes, it feels like the Rays are the team we all bet against. They’ll face their biggest challenge of the postseason against the Astros in the ALCS. In comparison to 2019, Houston’s a shell of itself in terms of starpower, playing without Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, George Springer, and Alex Bregman this October. Still, this series would be over already if we went off of how these two teams’ rosters look on paper. This is going to be a close, fun, and exciting ALCS. The Rays and Astros have played each other three postseasons in a row now, so they know each other well. In 2019, the Astros won. In 2020, the Rays won. In 2021, I like the Rays again. For the second straight year, the Tampa Bay Rays will play for the World Series. Tampa in six.

NL Championship Series – Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants

Oh, this one’s gonna be good. Here, we have two teams that do not sport star-studded rosters like the other NL playoff contenders. These two teams had to grind to get to where they are right now, and both are fun, fun baseball teams to watch. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Logan Webb and Corbin Burnes go head to head. This series is very difficult to predict, as both teams are playing well and have similar strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, you can’t discount a team’s regular season record, and for that, I’m going with the Giants. They’re really, really good, and they just don’t lose too many baseball games. I have this series going the distance, and San Francisco prevails. 

World Series – Tampa Bay Rays vs. San Francisco Giants

Another year where we avoid a Yankees-Dodgers World Series is a successful year. While the bosses at MLB are not going to like this series for low TV ratings, baseball fans should be really excited about the possibility of a Rays-Giants series. Both Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash belong to the same, analytics-driven school of managerial philosophy, and both teams built very similar rosters. Pitching is the strong suit for both clubs, but they have a flair for the dramatic and lineups that are built for offensive success. This series could go either way. My gut tells me that in a head to head matchup, the Giants come out on top in seven games. The Rays have an incredibly strong pitching staff, but they do not have the equivalent of a Kevin Gausman or a Logan Webb in their rotation. This will end up being the deciding factor, along with the postseason experience Posey, Crawford, and Belt bring to the table. 

Two somewhat bold predictions for next year:

  • The Giants will not make the playoffs next year.
  • The Rays will win the World Series in 2022. Third time’s the charm!

Here’s a recap of my picks for this year’s postseason:

October baseball IS HERE.

To state the obvious, it was not a fun year to be a Nats fan. The team got off to a slow start, heated up at the beginning of the summer, and after hitting a cold streak marred by injuries to some of the team’s best players, went through a fire sale in which the likes of Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, and Kyle Schwarber were sent to contending teams in exchange for minor league prospects. The Nats finished 65-97, good for last place in the NL East, even behind the Miami Marlins. They will pick fifth in next year’s draft. 

The Nats may have not had the best season, but it came with some fun moments. Juan Soto had a ridiculous month of September, Kyle Schwarber went on a historic home run tear in June, we experienced half of another Cy Young-caliber season for Max Scherzer, and Nats fans gave Ryan Zimmerman the proper sendoff in what could have been his final game in his illustrious career. 

Still, the Nats will not be playing baseball this October. That being said, these playoffs will still be full of many surprises and tense games, which every baseball fan should look forward to. Here are my predictions for how this postseason will unfold. 

AL Wild Card Game – New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

We missed out on a lot of exciting baseball when the Yankees and Red Sox both won on Sunday afternoon. If both teams had lost, and the Blue Jays would have still won their game against Baltimore, there would have been a tiebreaker game played today. I’m not all too disappointed, because our consolation prize is a winner-take-all, one game playoff between the two fiercest rivals in all of sports. This game is going to be an instant classic. The Yankees bring their powerful bats, quality pitching, and rally turtle to Fenway Park to take on the Red Sox, a team few expected to make it to the playoffs this year. Gerrit Cole, a Cy Young contender, gets the ball for New York, although he has struggled as of late. Nathan Eovaldi will pitch for the Sox. Both teams were quiet offensively this weekend, but in this high-octane matchup, I like the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers came out swinging in a recent series between the two teams at Fenway, and the Yankees swept their division rival with relative ease. The stakes are higher this time around, and it feels wrong to bet against Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton against a team with as little bullpen depth as Boston. I expect the two to keep it close, and to get really specific, Stanton will hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning. Regardless of the outcome, this is a must-watch baseball game. 

NL Wild Card Game – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Another really, really exciting game to look forward to. In early September, it looked like the Dodgers had a relatively easy path to a Wild Card game win, either facing the struggling Reds or the Padres, who the Dodgers had dominated all season long. Almost every Dodger in the starting lineup had incredible success at some point in recent memory. They bring out an All-Star team every night: Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock, and Walker Buehler. Oh, right, they also have Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, who they acquired at the deadline to make an already stacked team even better. Scherzer gets the nod in the Wild Card game, and he will bring his playoff intensity to Dodger Stadium for the first time. If the Wild Card game was decided on paper, it would be over before it began, and the Dodgers would be off to San Francisco to take on the Giants in the NLDS. But baseball doesn’t work that way. They’ll have to face the St. Louis Cardinals, the hottest team in baseball. It looks like the Cardinals’ October devil magic is back, my friends. I would not want to face this team right now. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are producing at the level Cards fans expected them to all season long. Their performances are helped by the breakouts of Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill, young players who add a huge spark to their lineup. The old guard is still there too–in fact, Mike Shildt is going to turn to his trustworthy ace, Adam Wainwright, in this game. Wainwright has had a resurgence this year himself, as has Yadier Molina. Call me crazy, but I’m embracing the chaos. Cardinals win. It’ll be on some fluky play late in the game, of course, but St. Louis will pull it off. 

AL Division Series – Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros

Hey, look, it’s the 2005 World Series all over again! This series is a tale of two very different teams–one upstart young ballclub with lots of marketable talent, the other a perennial winner embroiled in a massive cheating scandal. This will be a fun series, as every White Sox player wants to be the one to beat the cheaters (well, maybe everyone except Dallas Keuchel) and as the Astros want to quiet the haters and reclaim their legitimacy by winning a title fair and square. I’m looking forward to watching these two go at it this postseason, but in the end, I think the Astros have the upper hand. I like the postseason experience on the Astros’ roster, but more importantly, I don’t think the White Sox have been challenged enough in an awfully weak AL Central. Astros in 4 games. 

AL Division Series – New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

REMATCH! The Rays had the upper hand when the two teams squared off in last year’s playoffs, and I’m expecting another must-watch series this time around. The Rays have a potent offense and the deepest pitching staff in the league, even more impressive when you consider that the average casual baseball fan has likely never heard of many of the Rays’ pitchers. Wander Franco had a special rookie season, Andrew Kittredge developed into a trustworthy closer, and Randy Arozarena is a serious candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, everyone knows the Yankees’ best–Judge, Stanton, Rizzo, Gallo, Chapman, even people like Gleyber Torres and Nestor Cortes, who made legitimate names for themselves this season. Much to the dismay of Yankees fans, I think the Rays take the divisional series again. It must be really hard to manage against Kevin Cash and his wild bag of tricks, and Aaron Boone is not the experienced manager who can lead the Yankees to a series win over Tampa. The strategy of peppering the lineup with power bats might not work at cavernous Tropicana Field, where a majority of games are scheduled to be played. Rays in five games.

NL Division Series – Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers

The Braves won the NL East for the fourth straight year in 2021–or as is probably more accurate, the Braves were the least bad NL East team again. Braves fans probably know that their season was saved due to the Mets’ and Phillies’ collapses and Nationals and Marlins underperformances, and frankly, got lucky in a year where their best player got hurt with a torn ACL. That being said, the Braves are not a bad team at all. Never count out Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley is having an incredible breakout season, Max Fried has become the ace the Braves need, and Adam Duvall leads the league in RBIs. I’m not counting them out. I think they’re overmatched by the likes of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. Throw Acuna in the lineup and you’ve got yourself a really competitive series. Unfortunately, the Brewers pitching is just too strong. Brewers in a three-game sweep. 

NL Division Series – St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants

Here’s a series that nobody expected to see at the beginning of the year! The Giants were MLB’s biggest surprise this year, winning over 100 games and the division in a year where they were supposed to be rebuilding. I see them as a more experienced version of the Rays, with a lot of older players you forgot were still playing (Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, etc.) mixed in with younger players who you might have never heard of (Logan Webb, Lamonte Wade, etc.) and former role players who caught fire in San Francisco this year (Wilmer Flores, Kevin Gausman). What a weird team. The Cardinals are, of course, coming into this series on a hot streak, but the clock will strike midnight on St. Louis’s Cinderella run. Giants in four. 

AL Championship Series – Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays

I really don’t know if we can call the team with the AL’s best record “underdogs” anymore, but sometimes, it feels like the Rays are the team we all bet against. They’ll face their biggest challenge of the postseason against the Astros in the ALCS. In comparison to 2019, Houston’s a shell of itself in terms of starpower, playing without Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, George Springer, and Alex Bregman this October. Still, this series would be over already if we went off of how these two teams’ rosters look on paper. This is going to be a close, fun, and exciting ALCS. The Rays and Astros have played each other three postseasons in a row now, so they know each other well. In 2019, the Astros won. In 2020, the Rays won. In 2021, I like the Rays again. For the second straight year, the Tampa Bay Rays will play for the World Series. Tampa in six.

NL Championship Series – Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants

Oh, this one’s gonna be good. Here, we have two teams that do not sport star-studded rosters like the other NL playoff contenders. These two teams had to grind to get to where they are right now, and both are fun, fun baseball teams to watch. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Logan Webb and Corbin Burnes go head to head. This series is very difficult to predict, as both teams are playing well and have similar strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, you can’t discount a team’s regular season record, and for that, I’m going with the Giants. They’re really, really good, and they just don’t lose too many baseball games. I have this series going the distance, and San Francisco prevails. 

World Series – Tampa Bay Rays vs. San Francisco Giants

Another year where we avoid a Yankees-Dodgers World Series is a successful year. While the bosses at MLB are not going to like this series for low TV ratings, baseball fans should be really excited about the possibility of a Rays-Giants series. Both Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash belong to the same, analytics-driven school of managerial philosophy, and both teams built very similar rosters. Pitching is the strong suit for both clubs, but they have a flair for the dramatic and lineups that are built for offensive success. This series could go either way. My gut tells me that in a head to head matchup, the Giants come out on top in seven games. The Rays have an incredibly strong pitching staff, but they do not have the equivalent of a Kevin Gausman or a Logan Webb in their rotation. This will end up being the deciding factor, along with the postseason experience Posey, Crawford, and Belt bring to the table. 

Two somewhat bold predictions for next year:

  • The Giants will not make the playoffs next year.
  • The Rays will win the World Series in 2022. Third time’s the charm!
My picks for the 2021 MLB Postseason

Will I be proven wrong in a couple of weeks? Probably. It never hurts to guess, though, and if I had to give my best prediction, the Giants will prevail over the Rays in seven games. 



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