ESPN

8 Teams, 1 October

From the powerhouses at the top to the wild cards hoping to make a run, we crunched the numbers to find out the Fall Classic formula. But this time of year, anything can happen.

By David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle

1 CLEVELAND INDIANS

102-60 | AL Central winner

The Indians head into the playoffs as the World Series favorites after going an incredible 42-8 over the final 50 games of the season. According to FanGraphs' version of WAR, they had the greatest pitching staff ever -- and maybe they did, considering they led the majors in bullpen ERA and ranked second in rotation ERA to the Dodgers. But this isn't a pitching-only team. The Indians finished third in the AL in runs.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

26%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Yankees
58.3%
Astros
52.9%
Red Sox
69.8%
Diamondbacks
71.5%
Cubs
66.6%
Nationals
67.4%
Dodgers
58.7%

As you might expect from the club that went on an AL-record 22-game win streak, this looks like a team without a flaw. One thing that makes the Indians even scarier than they were last season is the emergence of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez as power hitters; they combined for 62 home runs. The one potential concern: defense in center field with Bradley Zimmer injured. The Indians might try Jason Kipnis out there in a platoon with Austin Jackson.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Indians' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
1.3
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
16.3
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
6.3
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
17.5
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
13.3

Good news if they play ... the Diamondbacks.The Indians led the majors in strikeout rate as a pitching staff. The Diamondbacks had the highest strikeout rate of all the playoff teams.

Bad news when they play ... the Yankees.The Indians ranked second in the majors in wOBA, but against pitches of 95-plus mph, they fall to 16th. The Yankees rank fourth in the majors in number of pitches thrown at 95-plus mph.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 4
  • Corey
    Kluber
  • 10
  • Carlos
    Carrasco
  • 17
  • Trevor
    Bauer
  • 29
  • Josh
    Tomlin

The Indians have the hottest starter in baseball in Corey Kluber, who posted a 1.62 ERA over his final 23 starts, with 224 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 166.1 innings. Carlos Carrasco is healthy after missing the postseason last year, and the rotation is so deep that Mike Clevinger and Danny Salazar will likely pitch out of the bullpen.

X FACTOR

Trevor Bauer, SP

3.01

That's Bauer's ERA in the second half after a 5.24 mark in the first half. The hitch: His OPS splits are nearly identical. He has left more runners stranded, so is it real improvement or good luck?

BIG BAT

Edwin Encarnacion, DH

Home
Runs
38
A pitcher he'd feast on:
Rick Porcello, Red Sox
Encarnacion feasted on sliders, with a .673 slugging percentage, and Porcello led the majors with 38 home runs allowed. Encarnacion has also hit Porcello well in recent years (.324 since 2012).
One who'd give him trouble:
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
The one pitch Encarnacion struggled against this year was the curveball, hitting .154. Strasburg has one of the best curveballs in the game, holding batters to a .157 average.
LESS

2 L.A. DODGERS

104-58 | NL West winner

The Dodgers won their most games since the team moved to L.A. in 1958, including a stretch in which they went 56-11. They followed that incredible roll by losing a mind-boggling 16 of 17 -- and sending Dodger Nation into a state of panic. The Dodgers allowed 79 fewer runs than any other NL team while slugging 221 home runs, just three off the NL lead.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

17%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Diamondbacks
56%
Cubs
53.6%
Nationals
57.3%
Red Sox
62.5%
Yankees
49.2%
Astros
45.6%
Indians
41.3%

We know the story: This is the fifth straight division title and the franchise's 11th playoff appearance since the team last reached and won the World Series in 1988. The improved depth in the rotation means the Dodgers shouldn't have to rely on Clayton Kershaw as much. The unlikely duo of Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor add offensive punch around steady stars Corey Seager and Justin Turner. Oh, and Kenley Jansen might be the best closer in the game. Anything short of a title will be a disappointment.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Dodgers' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
2.2
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
18.3
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
11.3
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
14
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
8.7

Good news if they play ... the Cubs.As the Cubs heated up in the second half, they destroyed righties with the best wOBA in baseball. But even as they led the majors in runs in the second half, they were just 14th in wOBA against southpaws, so this could be a good matchup for Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

Bad news when they play ... the Diamondbacks.The Diamondbacks not only won the season series 11-8, but they also outscored the Dodgers by 21 runs. The Dodgers will avoid facing Zack Greinke in Game 1 after he pitched in the wild-card game, but Robbie Ray dominated L.A. with 53 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 3
  • Clayton
    Kershaw
  • 11
  • Yu
    Darvish
  • 20
  • Rich
    Hill
  • 24
  • Alex
    Wood

The Dodgers led the majors in rotation ERA, with so many options that Dave Roberts has some tough choices about who makes the postseason foursome and who gets sent to the pen. One thing appears certain: Roberts said it is unlikely that Kershaw would pitch on short rest in the Division Series, something Kershaw has done each of the past four postseasons.

X FACTOR

Clayton Kershaw, SP

25.20

That's Kershaw's postseason ERA in the seventh inning since 2013. In five seventh innings, he has allowed 12 hits, six walks and 14 runs. Can he overcome his postseason bugaboo, or will Dave Roberts lift him after six?

BIG BAT

Cody Bellinger, 1B

Home
Runs
39
A pitcher he'll feast on:
Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks
Bellinger hit .293 and slugged .655 against changeups, showing great precocity to hammer those pitches as a rookie. Greinke throws his changeup a lot, and it's one of the best around, so this would be strength versus strength.
One who'd give him trouble:
Max Scherzer, Nationals
Bellinger hit just .180 against power pitchers (though with 11 home runs). A pitcher with a big fastball who can throw it up in the zone might be a problem for him.
LESS

3 HOUSTON ASTROS

101-61 | AL West winner

The Astros captured their first division title since 2001 with the second-best record in franchise history. They started strong -- 38-16 through May -- and after slumping in August, they acquired Justin Verlander to bolster the pitching staff. They went 21-8 the final month.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

16%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Red Sox
62.1%
Indians
47.1%
Yankees
55.6%
Diamondbacks
65.9%
Cubs
62.4%
Nationals
55.6%
Dodgers
54.4%

Verlander versus Chris Sale? Thank you very much. The Astros have the best offense in the majors, leading in runs, average, OBP and slugging and owning the lowest strikeout rate while ranking second in home runs. Verlander gives them an ace to go with Dallas Keuchel, who pitched better in September. If there's a concern, it's the bullpen depth in front of closer Ken Giles.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Astros' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
1.3
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
21.5
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
14.3
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
15
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
6.8

Good news when they play ... the Red Sox.Boston is going to roll out a lot of left-handed pitching in Sale, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and then David Price out of the bullpen. That could be good news for right-handers Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa.

Bad news if they play ... the Indians.The Astros went 1-5 against the Indians, scoring just 22 runs while hitting .220 in those six games. The Astros had a season strikeout rate of 17.3 percent, but against the Indians, it was 28.4 percent.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 7
  • Dallas
    Keuchel
  • 8
  • Justin
    Verlander
  • 25
  • Collin
    McHugh
  • 27
  • Lance
    McCullers

Verlander made five starts for the Astros and went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just five walks in 34 innings. His matchup against Sale could be the decisive factor in this first series. Keep an eye on Brad Peacock, who quietly went 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA and didn't allow more than two runs in his final six outings.

X FACTOR

Josh Reddick, OF

.314

That's Reddick's batting average this year, and he did it by hitting both righties (.314) and lefties (.315). In a lineup filled with righties, Reddick's left-handed bat will be crucial for the Astros.

BIG BAT

George Springer, OF

Home
Runs
34
A pitcher he'd feast on:
Sonny Gray, Yankees
Springer feasts on fastballs and has the discipline to lay off pitches that aren't strikes. Gray has one of the lowest rates of fastballs in the zone among starters and doesn't compensate with a high chase rate. If he falls behind in the count, watch out.
One who'll give him trouble:
Chris Sale, Red Sox
Springer has cut way down on his strikeouts, but he hit just .188 against sliders with a 33 percent strikeout rate. You know Sale is going to throw him a steady diet of sliders.
LESS

4 WASHINGTON NATIONALS

97-65 | NL East winner

The Nationals won their fourth NL East title in six seasons, but they have yet to advance past the Division Series in their previous three trips. Among those series losses, they blew a Game 5 lead in the ninth inning to the Cardinals in 2012, they lost in 18 innings vs. the Giants in Game 2 in 2014 and they blew a 2-1 series lead against the Dodgers with back-to-back one-run losses last year. So ... maybe they're due!

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

11%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Cubs
54.1%
Dodgers
43.6%
Diamondbacks
52.6%
Red Sox
55.3%
Yankees
40.5%
Astros
39.7%
Indians
32.6%

Two big clouds hang over the team. Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring in his final start, so his status remains a question mark as the Nationals head into the Cubs series. Bryce Harper was having an MVP-caliber season until he hurt his knee in August. He appears to be at full speed, but he has had just 20 plate appearances since returning from the DL. One thing that makes this team better than last year's edition: a deeper bullpen with trade acquisitions Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler. But will Dusty Baker make the right moves?

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Nationals' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
-0.5
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
16
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
9.5
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
21.3
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
9.5

Good news if they play ... the Astros.The Nationals can wear a team down, and they're difficult to match up against with their righty-lefty balance and depth off the bench. The Astros are vulnerable in the bullpen.

Bad news if they play ... the Dodgers.The Nats hit .175 in six games against the Dodgers. Los Angeles' stable of left-handed starting pitching options could help neutralize Harper and Daniel Murphy.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 2
  • Max
    Scherzer
  • 13
  • Stephen
    Strasburg
  • 21
  • Gio
    Gonzalez
  • 23
  • Tanner
    Roark

Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez each finished with an ERA under 3.00, making Washington the first team with three qualified starters to do that since ... the 2014 Nationals. Strasburg might be the hottest pitcher this side of Corey Kluber, with an ERA of 0.84 over his final eight starts and just one home run allowed.

X FACTOR

Stephen Strasburg, SP

1

It's hard to believe, but Strasburg has made just one postseason start in his career, as he was famously shut down in 2012 and was injured last season. With a 2.52 ERA, he has had the best season of his career.

BIG BAT

Bryce Harper, OF

Home
Runs
29
A pitcher he'll feast on:
Jake Arrieta, Cubs
Harper crushed righties, hitting .322/.433/.654 with almost as many walks as strikeouts. Arrieta had a sizable platoon split, with lefties posting an .840 OPS against him compared to .612 for righties.
One who'd give him trouble:
Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Harper hit .311 against lefties but with just three home runs and four times as many K's as walks. Lefties hit just .145/.190/.245 against Keuchel.
LESS

5 CHICAGO CUBS

92-70 | NL Central winner

It wasn't easy for the defending champs to get back to the playoffs after they headed to the All-Star break two games under .500. But only the Indians had a better record after the break, and no team scored more runs in the second half than the Cubs.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

10%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Nationals
45.9%
Diamondbacks
56.5%
Dodgers
46.4%
Red Sox
55.3%
Yankees
43.5%
Indians
33.4%
Astros
37.6%

Are the Cubs playing with house money? The curse is over, so the pressure this year shifts to the Dodgers and Nationals. The strategic showdown between Joe Maddon and Dusty Baker will be fascinating, as both managers have deep benches to play with. The Nationals have the starting pitching edge, so Maddon might have quick hooks and rely on his bullpen.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Cubs' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
3.9
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
16.3
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
5.2
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
8.6
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
10

Good news if they play ... the Diamondbacks.The Cubs particularly destroyed righties in the second half, hitting .273/.357/.475. The Diamondbacks have just one lefty starter in Robbie Ray (Patrick Corbin is unlikely to start), and the key relievers are all right-handed.

Bad news if they play ... the Dodgers.The Cubs went 2-4 against the Dodgers, scoring just 11 runs in the six games, though those series came in April and May, before the Chicago offense turned it on. Still, facing the Dodgers means Kyle Schwarber, who had a big second half, likely goes to the bench against Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 6
  • Jake
    Arrieta
  • 9
  • Jon
    Lester
  • 12
  • Jose
    Quintana
  • 19
  • Kyle
    Hendricks

The Cubs had a historically great rotation last year, but it hasn't been as dominant this season, with the ERA climbing from 2.96 to 4.05 in 2017. The hottest pitcher of late has been NLDS Game 1 starter Kyle Hendricks, who had a 2.19 ERA after his return from a DL stint in late July.

X FACTOR

Jon Lester, SP

1.3

Lester's rate of home runs allowed per nine innings is his highest since 2007, as he has surrendered a career-high 26 this season. He held opposing hitters to a .602 OPS last year, but that has risen to .750 this year.

BIG BAT

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Home
Runs
32
A pitcher he'd feast on:
Trevor Bauer, Indians
Rizzo likes to swing early in the count, with 20 of his home runs coming on 0-0, 1-0 or 1-1 counts. Bauer allowed a .415 batting average on those counts.
One who'd give him trouble:
Corey Kluber, Indians
Rizzo stands so close to the plate that it's difficult to pitch inside without hitting him (he was hit 24 times). He hit .187 on pitches on the inner third (and .197 last year), so you have to get him out inside. Kluber, with his curveball and cutter/slider, is one of the best at getting in on lefties, though Rizzo went 2-for-6 with two HBPs against him in last season's World Series.
LESS

6 NEW YORK YANKEES

91-71 | AL wild-card winner

With super-rookie Aaron Judge mashing 52 home runs, Luis Severino emerging as an ace and a bullpen that held opponents to a .204 average, the Yankees are in their first playoff series since 2012.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

8%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Indians
41.7%
Red Sox
62.6%
Astros
44.4%
Diamondbacks
58.8%
Cubs
50.6%
Nationals
59.5%
Dodgers
50.8%

The Indians won the season series 5-2, with the Yankees hitting just .206 in the seven games. The Indians have the starting pitching advantage, so expect Yankees skipper Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen early and often, as he was forced to do in the wild-card game.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Yankees' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
4.1
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
10.9
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
18.6
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
10.7
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
11.4

Good news if they play ... the Red Sox.I mean, we can pretend it's 2003 and 2004 all over again. The Yankees went 11-8 against the Red Sox this season, but the Sox scored just 59 runs (3.1 per game) and lack the power hitters to take full advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Bad news if they play ... the Astros.The Astros led the majors in runs, and one reason they did so was that they also led the majors in wOBA against fastballs of 95-plus. With the lowest team strikeout rate, too, the Astros might be one opponent the hard-throwing Yankees bullpen can't dominate.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 14
  • Masahiro
    Tanaka
  • 15
  • Sonny
    Gray
  • 18
  • Luis
    Severino
  • 26
  • CC
    Sabathia

Severino fanned 230 in 193.1 innings and finished strong, so the Yankees have to hope his poor outing in the wild-card game was simply playoff debut jitters. Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia have sub-4.00 ERAs but mediocre peripherals, and Masahiro Tanaka can be effective if he keeps the ball in the park (35 home runs).

X FACTOR

Dellin Betances, RP

6.6

Betances' walks per nine innings mark is the second-highest of any pitcher in the majors. Joe Girardi has had to pull him from a couple appearances down the stretch. The Yankees have a deep pen, but Betances will be needed in a big moment at some point.

BIG BAT

Aaron Judge, OF

Home
Runs
52
A pitcher he'll feast on:
Carlos Carrasco, Indians
Judge hit .321 and slugged .799 on fastballs in the upper half of the zone. Among qualified starters, Carrasco had the fourth-highest wOBA allowed on fastballs in the upper half of the zone.
One who'll give him trouble:
Carlos Carrasco, Indians
Yes, it's the same guy. Judge's krypotonite is the slider -- he hit just .153 against the pitch. Carrasco has one of the best in the game, limiting batters to a .130 average with a 58 percent strikeout rate. This is much the story of Judge: If you attack him right, you might get him out. But if you miss, watch out!
LESS

7 BOSTON RED SOX

93-69 | AL East winner

The Red Sox won their second straight AL East title by playing their best baseball the final two months and going 37-20. They also went 15-3 in extra-inning games and 16-4 in interleague games, which leads to the question of whether they can beat the best teams in the American League.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

7%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Astros
37.9%
Yankees
37.4%
Indians
30.2%
Diamondbacks
50%
Cubs
44.7%
Nationals
44.7%
Dodgers
37.5%

In their first year without David Ortiz, the Red Sox missed his big bat at times, as they ranked last in the AL in home runs, which could spell trouble against the long-ball-hitting Astros in the ALDS. Boston is hoping to ride Chris Sale's arm deep into October, as David Price's elbow injury means he'll be pitching out of the bullpen. With Craig Kimbrel as the closer, that bullpen is the secret weapon and is arguably deeper than that of any other postseason team.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Red Sox's cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
0.6
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
8.1
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
11.8
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
11.6
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
9.1

Good news if they play ... the Cubs.Because they don't hit a lot of home runs, the Red Sox will have to generate runs with hits and walks. None of the playoff staffs is easy to hit -- the seven lowest batting averages allowed were by playoff teams -- but the Cubs have the highest walk rate of the postseason pitching staffs.

Bad news if they play ... the Yankees.They went 8-11 against the Yankees, averaging just 3.1 runs per game and even resorting to stealing signs to boost the offense. If the Sox and Yanks do meet in the ALCS, all the pressure will be on the Red Sox as the experienced division winners taking on the upstart Yankees.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 1
  • Chris
    Sale
  • 16
  • Rick
    Porcello
  • 30
  • Drew
    Pomeranz
  • 32
  • Doug
    Fister

Sale had an amazing season, with 308 K's in 214.1 innings, but he was inconsistent the final two months, with a 4.09 ERA despite four outings in which he allowed no runs. Rick Porcello was unable to repeat his Cy Young season and led the league in home runs allowed. Drew Pomeranz will be the No. 2 starter in the postseason after a solid season with a 3.32 ERA.

X FACTOR

David Price, RP

94.7

That's Price's average fastball velocity since he came off the DL and moved to the bullpen. Look for John Farrell to use Price as a multi-inning weapon out of the pen like Cleveland used Andrew Miller last postseason.

BIG BAT

Mookie Betts, OF

Home
Runs
24
A pitcher he'll feast on:
Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Betts had a 1.037 OPS against ground ball pitchers versus .678 against fly ball pitchers. Keuchel is the most extreme ground ball starter in the game.
One who'd give him trouble:
Max Scherzer, Nationals
Among playoff starters, Scherzer has the highest fly ball rate, though Justin Verlander is right up there as well.
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8 ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

93-69 | NL wild-card winner

Thanks to the best run prevention in franchise history, the Diamondbacks enjoyed their first winning season since they won the NL West in 2011. Paul Goldschmidt had MVP numbers, and J.D. Martinez came over from the Tigers to hit 29 home runs in 62 games.

Where They Stand

World Series Odds

6%

Roster Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Offense Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Fielding Rank

  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1

Odds to beat

Dodgers
43.7%
Cubs
43.5%
Nationals
47.4%
Red Sox
50%
Yankees
41.2%
Indians
28.5%
Astros
34.1%

These teams know each other well. The Diamondbacks won the season series 11-8 while outscoring the Dodgers 99-71. All the pressure will be on the Dodgers, and the D-backs have the pitching to shut down the L.A. offense. One concern is Goldschmidt, who struggled in September while dealing with a sore elbow.

UNIT-BY-UNIT RANKING

The Diamondbacks' cumulative WAR for each of their five units.

Catcher WAR
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
2.2
Infield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
9.6
Outfield  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
9.5
Starting Pitching (Top 4)  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
18.3
Relief Pitching  
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
8.1

Good news when they play ... the Dodgers.The Diamondbacks have beaten the Dodgers six times in a row, and though those games took place during the Dodgers' horrendous slump, one reason they stumbled was that the Diamondbacks kept beating them.

Bad news if they play ... the Nationals.Martinez and Goldschmidt are both better against lefties, and the Nationals have two of the best right-handers in the game, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, at the top of their rotation, while the Dodgers and Cubs have more lefties.

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 5
  • Zack
    Greinke
  • 22
  • Robbie
    Ray
  • 28
  • Taijuan
    Walker
  • 31
  • Zack
    Godley

The Diamondbacks allowed 231 fewer runs than they did in 2016, thanks to one of the best rotations in the game. The top four starters all posted ERAs below 3.50 despite playing in a hitters' park, with Robbie Ray and Zack Godley enjoying breakout seasons.

X FACTOR

Robbie Ray, SP

53

Ray struck out 53 in 31.2 innings against the Dodgers this season, going 3-0 in five starts with a 2.27 ERA. In a September start against L.A, he fanned 14 in 7.2 scoreless innings.

BIG BAT

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

Home
Runs
36
A pitcher he'd feast on:
Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Goldschmidt loves to hit lefties, with a .341 average and .595 slugging the past three seasons, and he especially loves fastballs down in the zone. No lefty throws down in the zone more than Keuchel.
One who'll give him trouble:
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
These two have faced each other 47 times, and Goldschmidt is hitting .227 with two home runs against Kershaw, including going 0-for-5 in 2017.

Illustrations by Oliver Barrett

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