COLUMN: MLB Playoff Preview

Expanded 16 Team Postseason begins today

This year has certainly been unique in the 151-year history of Major League Baseball. 60 games, no fans, adjusted extra innings rules, an expanded postseason field and a sprint to October.

While the game might look different, it is time for October baseball once again. The postseason will be played in a modified bubble format. While the NBA has been in one bubble, and the NHL competed in two, the MLB postseason will be played in four locations.

The Wildcard series will be a Best of 3 set with the higher-seeded team hosting all three potential games.

The American League will host games in California, with the Division Series splitting games between San Diego and Los Angeles. The winner of the Los Angeles bubble will then travel to San Diego for the ALCS.

The National League will play out in Texas, with Arlington and Houston hosting the Division Series. Arlington will host the NLCS, as well as the AL champions for the World Series.

Another change to the postseason schedule is a reduction of off days. With no travel within a series, there will be no rest days between games. This plays to the advantage of teams with depth, particularly in their starting rotations.

Heading into the postseason, the favorite in the N.L. is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished a major league-best 43-17 and 8-2 in their final 10 games. They will open with the No. 8 seed Milwaukee Brewers, who qualified for the Wildcard round despite a 29-31 finish.

Hoping to challenge the Dodgers for the N.L. crown are the No. 2 Atlanta Braves led by Ronald Acuna Jr., the N.L. Central champion Chicago Cubs, and the rejuvenated No. 4 San Diego Padres.

San Diego has played great baseball all year led by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. They could pose a threat to their N.L. West rivals in the Division Series. 

Surprise visitors to the N.L. postseason include the No. 6 Miami Marlins, who will travel to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the Wildcard Round.

In the A.L., the Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to return to the World Series for the first time since 2008. Gunning for the A.L. title will be the No. 2 Oakland A’s, No. 3 Minnesota Twins and No. 4 Cleveland Indians.

The Indians will have their hands full early, as the No. 5 New York Yankees, who struggled to get going early, will travel to Cleveland. The Twins also have no guaranteed trip to the ALDS, as they host the No. 6 Houston Astros.

FiveThirtyEight has the Dodgers as heavy favorites to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy, with a 32% chance to win the World Series. Los Angeles is distantly followed by Tampa Bay at 12% and the Yankees and Twins at 8% each, according to the site’s Elo rating of each team.

You can catch the A.L. and N.L. Wildcard rounds on ABC, TBS, and ESPN Networks starting Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. with Astros at Twins on ABC.

You can also follow along with WCYJ-FM’s Nameless Baseball Show on Twitter @WUPasttime, as the team will have their full predictions and updated results throughout the postseason.