Well, that was quick. It took just two days to figure out what the matchups would be for the AL and NL Division Series. Before we take a look into that, let’s glance over at the losers of the Wildcard Series.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays, who started the season red-hot by going on a 13-game win streak, came into the playoffs looking flat. The team scored just one run, and that game was a 7-1 loss against the Rangers. Their attendance was also something else, just pulling in around 20,000 fans for a playoff game.
Toronto Blue Jays
After brutal managing and baserunning, the Blue Jays got eliminated from the postseason again as they fell to 0-6 in the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette era. Just like the Rays, they were held to just one run across the two games. In fact, these two teams have even more similarities, as they share the longest active postseason losing streak, with seven straight losses. It seems to be that both of these teams have great regular seasons but just show up flat come October.
The Brewers had their fifth postseason appearance in six years but failed to deliver, gifting their fans another first-round exit. There isn’t much to say, other than the Diamondbacks completed their two-game sweep in the three-game series. Craig Counsell’s job now seems to be in question.
Like the three other teams, Miami got swept, only scoring two runs over two games. I think it’s easy to say they were not prepared for Philly’s tough crowd as some of their best players struggled. Jazz Chisholm Jr. wasn’t even able to get on base at all. To make matters worse, right after their playoff exit, news broke that Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins ace and reigning NL Cy Young, will be sidelined for the entire 2024 season because of Tommy John surgery.
Now, let’s go back to the teams who are still in the postseason.
Here’s what the matchups will look like for the NL:
Atlanta Braves (No. 1) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (No. 4)
A rematch of the 2022 NLDS which produced some electric moments, mostly for the Phillies. The Braves, who were a juggernaut this year, led the league in wins (104), and home runs (307). Not only that, but they also broke the record for the highest slugging percentage (.509).
The Phillies, however, are riding hot just like last year, especially with their 7-1 clinching win against the Marlins. Although Bryce Harper struggled in the Marlins series, he was facing a good number of lefties, so it was harder for him to get going. He’ll likely dominate against the Braves.
Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 2) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 6)
Just like last year, the Dodgers, who finished the season with a record of 100-62, are coming out of the bye week. This time, however, they look to not have a repeat of last postseason, where the San Diego Padres sent them home in four games.
The Dodgers, who ride high on their offense, are looking at a depleted pitching rotation. Dustin May is injured, and they’ll have to rely on some rookies.
However, just like the Phillies and the rest of the teams who swept in the wildcard, the Diamondbacks are hot and looking to carry it into the NLDS.
Now for the AL matchups:
Baltimore Orioles (No. 1) vs. Texas Rangers (No. 5)
As mentioned last week, the Baltimore Orioles were a complete surprise this season. At a record of 101-61, they finally had a breakthrough after years of being horrible. And with the Orioles having a home advantage, Camden Yards will be popping with fans for the first time since 2016.
However, the Rangers absolutely dismantled the Rays in St. Petersburg and are just warming up. Josh Jung and Evan Carter, the two rookies for the Rangers, have been on fire, with Carter reaching base seven out of eight times in the Wild Card round. In Game 2 of the series against the Rays, Jung smashed the ball for two doubles.
Houston Astros (No. 2) vs. Minnesota Twins (No. 3)
For the first time since 2004, the Twins won a playoff game. And for the first time since 2002, they advanced to the next round. This year, the Twins pitching staff led the Majors in total strikeouts (1,560) but the hitters also led the league in strikeouts at 1,654.
On the other side, the Astros are back and want to continue their dominance. From their hitting core to their pitching core, it’s obviously going to be tough to beat them. This isn’t the same Houston team from last year, they spent most of the regular season behind the Rangers in the AL West, until one last minute push crowned them as the champions of the West.
Not only that, but Houston has had the injury bug throughout the whole season. But now, they are entering the postseason with a healthy lineup.
Prepare for a dramatic and intense five-game series, which will unfold as some of the best teams go head-to-head, fighting for their chance to make MLB history.