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Battle for the World Series has begun

By Travis Politakis

The month of October is here, and for baseball fans that means only thing: MLB Playoffs. The final four of baseball is set. In the American League, the defending champion Houston Astros are set to take on the Boston Red Sox who own the best record in the MLB at 108-54. In the National League, the underdog Milwaukee Brewers are set to take on the World Series runner-ups, the Los Angeles Dodgers. This years playoffs are much anticipated, because there is not one clear team that can win it all. Nobody knows what can happen. October is truly the month where legends are made, and heroes are born.

The Houston Astros are coming off of a 2017 World Series Championship, and are hungry for more. Houston swept the Cleveland Indians to advance to the ALCS. Houston finished with a second best 103-59 record, finishing first place in the AL West. Houston has an immensely talented lineup with All-Stars George Springer and Alex Bregman, and former AL MVP Jose Altuve. Houston also has quality hitters such as Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez, and Yuli Gurriel who were impactful in winning the title last year. Houston’s pitching staff is among the world’s best, as they have three quality starters in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Dallas Keuchel. The Astros pitching staff has an insane 3.11 ERA, which is among the league’s best. Their much anticipated matchup against the Boston Red Sox was Oct. 13.

The Boston Red Sox are coming into the ALCS hungry for revenge, as they were knocked off last year by the Houston Astros in the ALDS. The Red Sox have been on a mission from the start of free agency in 2017, as they signed slugger J.D. Martinez to improve their lineup. Boston finished with a league best 108-54 record. Boston finished first place in the AL East, and beat the New York Yankees pretty handily in the ALDS. Many people think Boston has what it takes to win another title. Boston has a stacked lineup as AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts leads the MLB with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and a 10.9 WAR. Boston’s new addition J.D. Martinez also creates some problems for opposing pitchers as he leads the Red Sox with 43 home runs, and leads the MLB with 130 RBI’s. The Red Sox have Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts who provide offensive power, and defensive protection for Boston. The Red Sox also has one of the best pitchers in the MLB, with Cy Young candidate in Chris Sale. Sale leads the team with a .211 ERA. Boston is looking to knock off Houston, in one of the most anticipated ALCS in recent memory.

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to get back to the World Series and avenge their 2017 championship loss. Los Angeles got off to a slow start to the season, but opened everyone’s eyes on July 18, when they acquired All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles. The Dodgers managed to finish with a 92-71 record, finishing first in the NL West. They were able to beat the Atlanta Braves to advance to the NLCS. Los Angeles Dodgers have some swagger in their lineup as Matt Kemp leads the team with a .290 batting average, and home run derby contestant Max Muncy leads the team with 35 home runs. The Dodgers have star power in Manny Machado, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig, and they have key pieces such as Chris Taylor and Justin Turner who can help push the team forward. They have world class pitcher Clayton Kershaw who is a consecutive All-Star and posed a 2.73 ERA, but Kershaw is known for his postseason collapses, so it’s uncertain if he will be able to come through in the playoffs. LA is set to start the series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, Oct. 12.

The Milwaukee Brewers come in to the NLCS as underdogs. The Brewers have never won a World Series championship, but are hoping to change that in 2018. This is the Brewers first postseason appearance since 2011. Milwaukee finished with  96-67 record, finishing first in the NL Central. The Brewers swept the Colorado Rockies to advance to the NLCS. The Brewers have a talented lineup led by MVP candidate Christian Yelich, who was acquired from the team in the offseason from the Miami Marlins. Yelich leads the team in every hitting category, finishing with a .326 batting average, 36 home runs, and 110 rbi’s. Milwaukee has key pieced such as Lorenzo Cain and Jesus Aguilar who can help carry the team. Milwaukee also has one of the best bullpens in the MLB, led by Josh Hader who has a 2.43 ERA. Can the Brewers finally end the drought? Get ready for 2018’s wild race to the World Series.

Travis Politakis can be reached at travis.politakis@spartans.ut.edu

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