MLB Playoffs Roundtable: Staff Hopes and Predictions

Oct 19, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Major League Baseball postseason logos painted on the field before game three of the 2021 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Major League Baseball postseason logos painted on the field before game three of the 2021 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Birds Watcher crew discusses the MLB playoffs starting today.

The playoffs are officially here!  The 2022 MLB Postseason kicks off this afternoon, which means it is time for some predictions.  How else do baseball fans anxiously wait for the most important games of the year than by debating questions that real life will soon answer for us.  The American League has a stacked field as usual, and there is plenty of intrigue in the National League, as well.

While we get ready for first pitch, let’s discuss which teams is pulling at our heart strings, and which are providing food for thought. Josh Linn broke down each series, so I elicited the help of contributors Cameron McGuire, Daniel Cereghin, and Michael Najarian for some more personal bets.

Who are you rooting for?

McGuire: Essentially, the team I will be rooting for most avidly will be whichever team is playing against the Yankees or Blue Jays. I would be okay with any of the other 10 teams winning the World Series but the teams I will root for most are the Cardinals and Astros. I like the Cardinals obviously because of the home run chase that Albert Pujols went on near the end of the season and also because I saw the Cardinals play in St. Louis back in August against the Brewers. My dad and I go on a baseball trip every summer and this summer we decided to go to St. Louis this year and I was pleasantly surprised with the city and the ballpark, and it would be cool to see Pujols, Molina, and Wainwright win another ring together. I like to root for the Astros during the playoffs because of the way they rebuilt their franchise from the ground, and I also like to cynically root for the villain. Of course, the addition of Trey Mancini adds more intrigue for Orioles fans.

Najarian: On the AL side of things, there’s a lot of fierce competition, but it just feels impossible not to root for the Seattle Mariners, making the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and doing it with electrifying youngsters and dominant pitching. On the NL side, the Braves are fun to root for with their core of Acuna, Swanson, Riley, and Matt Olson.

Cereghin: How can you not root for the Mariners? They’re the only team in baseball that I have no memory of watching in the postseason. Their lineup is deep, and their rotation is as good as anyone else’s in the AL. I’ve got to go with the likable cast of Ty France, Julio Rodriguez, Robbie Ray and Luis Castillo.

Schneider: I am also pulling for the Mariners in the playoffs.  They have a very fun roster, a beautiful stadium, a great city, and an aggressive GM.  Everyone likes an underdog, and most neutral fans will be rooting for the Mariners.  I will definitely be rooting for Trey Mancini and Dusty Baker as people, so an Astros title would be a fine consolation prize.  It would be nice to see Buck Showalter and the Mets win a ring after so many troubling years.  Maybe I’m just rooting for the teams that remind me of the Orioles.

What matchup are you looking forward to?

Najarian: The Mariners vs Blue Jays wild card series will provide a ton of close and hard-fought baseball, with both teams looking to prove themselves as legit in October, both this year and for many years to come. The Padres and Mets is the wild card series to watch in the NL, with both teams boasting incredible levels of talent and skill everywhere you look, which should provide some very exciting baseball to watch.

Cereghin: I can’t wait to see how the Cardinals – Phillies matchup plays out. The Phillies return to the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons, just to face the team that knocked them out last time – and the Cardinals are still led by Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina all these years later. On paper, however, it’s tough to beat that Phillies rotation, even if the Cardinals have a lineup of the top-2 MVP candidates.

McGuire: The matchup I am looking forward to most in Wild Card weekend is Mets vs. Padres because those are teams that on paper could make a run in October with legitimate star power on each side. Of course, there is sentimental value in this series as Buck Showalter is the manager of the Mets and I would love to see him be successful this postseason. Manny Machado has continued to shine in San Diego so it will be interesting to see those two teams up against one another.

Schneider: I agree that Mets-Padres will be the most fun Wild Card Series, but I am looking forward to Max Scherzer and Jacon DeGrom facing the Dodgers.  Much like last year when LA had to play the Giants in the NLDS, this year we could see two of the very best teams play each other in an early round.  The whole series will have the feel of the Fall Classic a couple weeks before the real one.

Who do you think will meet in the World Series?

Cereghin: I’ve gotta go Astros – Cardinals. I’m taking the big upset in the NL as the Cardinals are hungry to get the final rings for their trio of veterans. The Astros boast the best pitching staff in the AL and one of the best lineups in the AL. The Astros have the chance to steamroll their competition, 2018 Red Sox style (11-3 postseason record). In the end, I think the Cardinals complete the storyline and take this series in 7.

McGuire: I believe the World Series matchup will be Dodgers vs. Blue Jays. The Dodgers won 111 games and have just been so dominant this season so I believe that they are the team to beat and will make it this year. The Dodgers have another former Oriole friend in Hanser Alberto, and it would be cool to see him in the World Series. I think the Blue Jays get hot and make it to the World Series despite my objections.

Najarian: Oh man, this is a tough decision to make. You can make a case for the Yankees, Astros, and even the Seattle Mariners to represent the AL in the World Series, as they are all really good teams with more upside to go far than the other three. The Astros are my pick, simply because of all that pitching talent they have, with all the youngsters plus Justin Verlander turning back the clock. You can’t discount that lineup either, it’s a scary good group. On the NL Side of things, you can see reasons for every single team to make a run at the World Series. But I’m going to be boring and pick the Los Angeles Dodgers to represent the NL. I mean, they won 111 games in the regular season, and don’t have any big problems on their roster. They are simply a machine, so I’m going with a rematch of the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers and Astros will do battle this year.

Schneider: Nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs, but it is hard to picture anyone beating this Astros team.  They are so deep and balanced that they match up well with every other team.  In the Senior Circuit, I think the Mets will get back to the World Series after seven years despite dropping the NL East and first-round bye.  They have the high-end pitching and potent lineup to win the necessary games, even against the Dodgers Goliath and rival Braves.  Astros over Mets in six games, and Dusty Baker finally gets his ring.