2018 MLB Playoffs: ALCS and NLCS Previews, Game Times, Pitching Matchups, and Predictions

By Michael Vesci
Oct. 12, 2018

And then there were four. The National League Championship Series and American League Championship Series kick off over the next two days as the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 tonight. Then tomorrow, the Houston Astros take on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway with a chance to go to the World Series on the line for all four teams in a pair of best-of-seven series. Before we dive right in, let us take a look at how we fared with the Tiebreaker Games, Wild Card Games as well as the Division Series matchups:

Tiebreaker Game Predictions: Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs

Tiebreaker Game Winners: Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers

Tiebreaker Game Record: 0-2

Wild Card Game Predictions: Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees

Wild Card Game Winners: Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees

Wild Card Game Record: 2-0

NLDS Predictions: Dodgers in 4 Games and Brewers in 4 Games

NLDS Winners: Dodgers in 4 Games and Brewers in 3 Games

NLDS Record: 2-0

ALDS Predictions: Astros in 4 Games and Yankees in 4 Games

ALDS Winners: Astros in 3 Games and Red Sox in 4 Games

ALDS Record 1-1

Overall Postseason Record: 5-3

Not too bad on the prediction front! Sure, the number of games they ended up playing was off by a little, but the winner of the series was still the same. Let us see if we can go 2-0 with the ALDS and NLDS predictions.

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers vs. (1) Milwaukee Brewers

Game 1: Friday, October 12th @ Miller Park, 8:09 PM EST, FS1

Probable Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw vs. Gio Gonzalez

Game 2: Saturday, October 13th @ Miller Park, 4:09 PM EST, FOX

Probable Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Wade Miley

Game 3: Monday, October 15th @ Dodger Stadium, 7:39 PM EST, FS1

Probable Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Walker Buehler

Game 4: Tuesday, October 16th @ Dodger Stadium, 9:09 PM EST, FS1

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. Rich Hill

Game 5: Wednesday, October 17th @ Dodger Stadium, 5:05 PM EST, FS1 (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 6: Friday, October 19th @ Miller Park, 8:39 PM EST, FS1 (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 7: Saturday, October 20th @ Miller Park, 9:09 PM EST, FS1 (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

This is going to be a fun series to watch. The Brewers are looking to head to their first World Series in franchise history as they start this seven game series with a Dodger team trying to return to the World Series for a second consecutive season. Milwaukee comes into this series off a sweep of the Rockies while riding an 11-game win streak dating back to the regular season. They are easily the hottest team left in the playoffs as their pitching has been outstanding to the tune of 19 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Additionally, the hitting core of MVP candidate Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain are a force to be reckon with and that is only scratching the surface of the offensive talent they possess. Do not expect the Dodgers to cakewalk into the World Series like they did last year versus the Cubs. As nasty as their pitching can be, it can also let them down like it has in years past during the playoffs. Recently it looks like Clayton Kershaw seems to be past the playoff hump, but one can never tell given his numbers in the past. Los Angeles has a true ace in Kershaw if he performs like he normal does and their pitching is overall a bit more solid than the Brewers.

Outside of Jhoulys Chacin, the Brewers really do not have another guy who can produce shutdown starts from time to time like the Dodgers do with Hyun-Jin Ryu or Walker Buehler. Furthermore when you dive into relief pitching, the Brewers and Dodgers bullpens ranked number one and two in ERA during the month of September. If one team gets to the other's bullpen, the game could very well be over. Looking at each bullpen, I give the advantage to Milwaukee with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jefferess, Joakim Soria, and Corey Knebel being tough to face in the late innings of games. Los Angeles certainly has a hitting core that can get to their opponent with guys like Manny Machado, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner likely to be big contributors if the Dodgers want to advance. When it is all set and done, I have to favor the hottest team in baseball right now, the Brewers. Everything is clicking right now for them and I do not see any reason why they cannot continue the roll they are on. It will be a gritty series for sure and by no means will either team back down, grab the popcorn.

Prediction: Brewers in 6

(2) Houston Astros vs. (1) Boston Red Sox

Game 1: Saturday, October 13th @ Fenway Park, 8:09 PM EST, TBS

Probable Pitchers: Justin Verlander vs. Chris Sale

Game 2: Sunday, October 14th @ Fenway Park, 7:09 PM EST, TBS

Probable Pitchers: Gerrit Cole vs. David Price

Game 3: Tuesday, October 16th @ Minute Maid Park, 5:09 PM EST, TBS

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 4: Wednesday, October 17th @ Minute Maid Park, 8:39 PM EST, TBS

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 5: Thursday, October 18th @ Minute Maid Park, 8:09 PM EST, TBS (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 6: Saturday, October 20th @ Fenway Park, 5:09 PM EST, TBS (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Game 7: Sunday, October 21st @ Fenway Park, 7:39 PM EST, TBS (If Necessary)

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. TBD

Yes Boston, you guys took down the Yankees, a team that was chanting that they wanted you during the Wild Card Game. A lot was made about the chant by New Yorkers, but in actuality what else was New York going to for besides the Red Sox? A trip home? Why would they chant for that? Anyways, the Sox took care of the Yankees easily with Chris Sale finally getting his first postseason win and dominant performances by Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello to finish the job. The bullpen is still rather shaky, Craig Kimbrel showed that in Game 4 when he nearly blew a three-run lead in the ninth to send the series to a Game 5. Boston's bats smoked the Yankees and their starting pitching, now they will have to continue that against a much tougher staff in the Astros. Facing the likings of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton will be no easy feat for their hitting core. Boston may have home-field advantage, but they do not have the advantage on the pitching front which is of crucial importance in the playoffs.

The Red Sox need to hope Sale performs like he did in Game 1 and by some stretch of the imagination, David Price figures out how to pitch effectively in the postseason. These Boston starters need to be able to shutdown the big bats of the Houston offense like Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman if they want any hope of making it to the World Series. The unpredictability of the bullpen makes it hard to believe that the Red Sox are going to be able to triumph over the Astros considering the incredible amount of talent they boast on the mound and at the plate. This is going to be a long series for Boston. You may have been able to take down your longtime rivals, but the situational hitting of Houston is likely to be much better than New York's was in the ALDS. Buckle up Boston, this is a whole new ballgame now.

Prediction: Astros in 5

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