The 2022 MLB Postseason is finally here!
Even though the Baltimore Orioles won’t be appearing this fall, there is still plenty to look forward to. Four teams with over 100 wins (and the Yankees with 99) comprise the playoff field, setting the table for what could potentially be one of the most competitive postseasons in recent memory. The Mariners (21 years) and Phillies (10 years) ended the two longest postseason droughts in the league and got back into the party. Albert Pujols gets one last crack at a World Series before he ends his career.
Adding to the intrigue is the new format. The 2022 MLB Postseason is the first to be played under the new schedule, adding one wild card team in each league and replacing the one-game wild card playoff with best-of-three series featuring the three wild card recipients and the division champion with the fewest wins. The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals are assuredly grateful.
The 2022 MLB Postseason is stacked with supremely talented teams.
Which of the twelve teams standing will hoist the World Series trophy? Here’s how I think things will shake out before the Orioles have their Billy Madison palming a kickball moment next year and take over the league.
American League Wild Card Series
Cleveland Guardians over Tampa Bay Rays
Two similarly constructed teams enter the postseason under vastly different circumstances. Tampa Bay sputtered across the finish line with a 14-14 September whilst the Guardians enter the postseason as one of the hottest teams in baseball. Winning the series opener with ace Shane McClanahan on the mount is essential if Tampa Bay wants to advance, but it’s hard to envision the Rays offense managing to get past two of Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill.
Cleveland’s offense is by no means a juggernaut and star hitter Jose Ramirez has a spotty postseason resume, but I prefer the depth of their lineup and they have the starting pitching to match the Rays. They also have Emmanuel Clase at the back of their bullpen throwing 100 MPH cutters that would send Isaac Newton frantically back to his chalkboard.
Seattle Mariners over Toronto Blue Jays
The Mariners are arguably the biggest feel-good story of the entire postseason, making their first playoff appearance since the Fighting John Halamas reached the ALCS in 2001. I had just started sixth grade. Jay Z’s The Blueprint and Apple’s first iPod were a month old. Michael Jordan was about to suit up for the Washington Wizards. Like the Staind hit that came out the same year said, it’s been awhile since they could hold their head up high.
2022 MLB Postseason Predictions
Toronto didn’t challenge for the division as some expected and received shaky performances from righty starter Jose Berríos and free agent signing Yusei Kikuchi, but they remain dangerous as any team with Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and George Springer would. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah are both legitimate Cy Young candidates. Jordan Romano and Adam Cimber are a formidable back end of a bullpen that’s had a 3.27 ERA since July 1.
My head says Blue Jays, but my heart says Mariners. Seattle will likely start (in some order) Robbie Ray, Luis Castillo, and Logan Gilbert and while not boasting a 2022 stat line like Manoah or Gausman, are talented enough to keep the Blue Jays offense in check. Seattle is the pick but returns from Toronto’s Santiago Espinal and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., both injured, could shift the scales back toward Canada.
National League Wild Card Series
New York Mets over San Diego Padres
The idea of a 101-win wild card team seems immensely cruel, but at least the MLB postseason format has been altered from a random, reductive one game sample into a three game series.
Buck Showalter’s Mets topped the National League East for a majority of 2022 but were demoted to Wild Card thanks to the white hot Braves, but that was much more a case of the Braves being insanely good than the Mets choking it away; they’re an excellent team that’s elite both at the plate and on the mound.
Manny Machado and Juan Soto are arguably the two best players in the series but San Diego’s offense thins out fairly quickly after that, especially with Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove must pitch well for the Padres to stand a chance – it’s just hard to envision them out-dueling Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
St. Louis Cardinals over Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have been a force since new manager Rob Thomson replaced Joe Girardi in June. The top of the rotation features Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, two of the best starting pitchers in the NL who have combined for over 10 fWAR. Their offense, featuring Bryce Harper and worthy-of-MVP-votes JT Realmuto, absolutely crushes. Kyle Schwarber led the NL in homers and Rhys Hoskins hit 30 of his own. Playing in Citizens Bank Park certainly helps.
The Cardinals always seem to end up here. MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado anchor this iteration. Both have arguably been two of the five best hitters in all of baseball this season; only Aaron Judge and Manny Machado accumulated more WAR than either. The aforementioned Pujols has destroyed lefties on his way to eclipsing the 700 home run plateau.
The starting rotation is average – not nearly as strong as past Cardinals teams that featured prime Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright – but the trade deadline acquisitions of Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana have provided stability. Having two southpaws to combat Schwarber and Harper is a matchup the Cardinals will hope to capitalize on.
The Phillies enter with an abundance of good vibes, but #CardinalsDevilMagic prevails and St. Louis will advance. The storybook is begging for a big Pujols moment this postseason and I’ll be rooting for him to deliver.
American League Division Series
Houston Astros over Seattle Mariners
The Mariners see their magical run end at the hands of the Astros who are, once again, really freaking good. Yordan Álvarez is one of the best pure hitters in baseball and Kyle Tucker isn’t far behind. Justin Verlander is still pitching like it’s 2011 and Lance McCullers has been dominant since returning from injury. Former Oriole Trey Mancini and the Astros advance in a short series that takes them one step closer to another ring.
New York Yankees over Cleveland Guardians
Cleveland’s rotation may be able to keep the Yankees lineup in check to a degree, but they simply don’t have enough offensive firepower to get past the Yankees. Aaron Boone’s squad is dealing with injury issues to several bullpen arms, but they should be able to get through this series with relative ease and without overusing Scott Effross or Lucas Luetge.
National League Division Series
Atlanta Braves over St. Louis Cardinals
The defending champions have faced the Cardinals in the MLB Postseason twice since 2012 and have encountered tragedy each time. St. Louis won the inaugural NL Wild Card game at Turner Field after a controversial infield fly call that was also the final game in which Braves legend Chipper Jones played. The Cardinals followed that up in 2019 by overcoming a 2-1 series deficit and winning the NLDS.
2022 is the year the Braves exact revenge. Their roster stacks up well against anybody, and the best repellent of #CardinalsDevilMagic is talent.
New York Mets over Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers finished with 110 wins. Their pitching depth is ridiculous. Their lineup offers pitchers no breaks from 1 through 9. What could possibly go wrong?
Other than the shortened 2020 season, the Dodgers generally use the postseason as an exhibition of how to lose playoff series in dramatic fashion. The 2017 World Series. The 2019 NLDS. Any time Clayton Kershaw faced the Cardinals.
The Mets have the talent to make the Dodgers’ MLB Postseason stay a short one.
The Mets don’t have the depth the Dodgers do, but there’s not a huge gulf between two teams that both reached triple digit wins. Look for injured Mets outfielder Starling Marte to make his return and give Buck’s boys the boost needed to top the team they were created to help replace when the Dodgers moved out of Brooklyn.
American League Championship Series
Houston Astros over New York Yankees
The Yankees will yet again fail to avenge the 2017 ALCS loss and the scandalous circumstances that surround it. I could see the over runs total hitting in most of these games, but injuries to Yankees bullpen arms will end up costing them after relying on a select few to reach this point.
National League Championship Series
Atlanta Braves over New York Mets
Buck falls just short of getting his ring after exhausting all options to get past the Dodgers. Atlanta continues to have the Mets number as they did in September and the Braves advance to their second consecutive fall classic. This has the ingredients to be an all-time great playoff series, but Atlanta advances in seven.
Atlanta Braves over Houston Astros
Predicting a rematch, look at me going out on a limb!
Atlanta is even better than last season and playing at a level commensurate with their ability. Picking the better team between these two involves quite a bit of hair splitting, but I think the Braves will be the first team to repeat since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. I think these games will be close and because of that, the insanely deep Braves bullpen will be one of the main components to topping the Astros.
And there you have it, my official 2022 MLB Postseason predictions. Be sure to return to this piece a month from now to roast me for being wildly wrong!