Diner Question: What are your ALCS and NLCS predictions? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dubroff’s Diner

Diner Question: What are your ALCS and NLCS predictions?

The Ravens have already played five games, but it’s postseason baseball that’s the talk in Dubroff’s Diner.

After four Division Series that were decided in either three or four games, will we have a truly contested pair of League Championship Series?

In the American League, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, who won 103 games this season, are facing the Boston Red Sox, winners of 108 games.

The Astros polished off the Cleveland Indians in three games while the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, who won 100 games, in four.

Houston, which had a spectacular September with a 21-6 record, finished the regular season in Baltimore, and even though the Orioles were nearly every team’s punching bag, the Astros looked terrific.

Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are pitching brilliantly, and manager A.J. Hinch has Lance McCullers, who is normally a starter, serving as a swingman.

The Astros are healthy, and while Carlos Correa had a down year, Alex Bregman (5-for-9 with two homers in the Division series), Marwin Gonzalez (7-for-13 with five RBIs) and George Springer (6-for-14 with three homers) are hot.

Boston has two hot starters, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello, and it was fun to see manager Alex Cora use Sale in the eighth inning in relief to help nail down Game 4.

David Price’s postseason woes continue. One of the best pitchers of our time has a 5.28 ERA in 18 postseason games. While current Astros are batting .226 against Price, he’ll have to prove himself worthy in big games.


Craig Kimbrel’s season ERA nearly doubled to 2.74, and he allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Yankees. The rest of the Red Sox bullpen isn’t impressive.

My pick: Astros in 6

When you watched Manny Machado celebrate after the fourth game of Los Angeles’ Division Series win over Atlanta, it was easy to remember how much fun it was to watch him play with the Orioles.

Machado’s Dodgers hit just .210 in the four-game series, and he was just 3-for-17, but had six RBIs.

Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been as shaky a postseason performer as Price, but he has a lifetime 4.08 ERA in the biggest games. In Game 2 against the Braves, Kershaw was magnificent, allowing just two hits in eight innings.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was nearly as good, pitching seven scoreless innings in Game 1. Atlanta had just four hits.

Dave Roberts has become an experienced postseason manager, and his bullpen, featuring Kenley Jansen, should be good enough to overcome the Brewers.

A Milwaukee win would be a cool story. The Brewers have made just one World Series, back in 1982, and they were able to beat the Chicago Cubs in Monday’s tiebreaker game. When a small-market team can outlast the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, it’s like the Orioles besting the Yankees and Red Sox.

Craig Counsell is managing his first postseason team. He’s chosen former Washington National Gio Gonzalez to start Game 1. Counsell makes liberal use of his bullpen, and used an opener for Game 1 of the Division Series against Colorado.

We’ll see how the opener theory works in a possible seven-game series.

The Brewers have the likely National League MVP, Christian Yelich, in his first postseason, and it’s always great when an unappreciated star gets deserved national exposure.

Josh Hader is the star of Milwaukee’s deep bullpen, and it will be interesting to see how much Counsell will use him.

My pick: Dodgers in 5

Enough from me. Let’s hear what you think and why.

This Week’s Diner Question: What are your predictions for the American League and National League Championship Series?

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Bancells Moustache

    October 12, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I like Houston in 6 like you do Rich. The Astros are clearly the best team in baseball. The Red Sox have the better record, but they also got to play 19 games against, well, the Orioles.

    Disagree on the NLCS though. The Brew crew have that ‘team of destiny’ vibe right now, plus I’m a sucker for long suffering fanbases gething their moment in the sun (can’t imagine why). I’ll take the Brewers in a 7 game thriller.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Can’t disagree with your logic, Bancells. The Orioles did win three games against the Red Sox, one more than they did against the Astros, but oh yes, they lost 16 to them against six to Houston.

      It would be fun to see the Brewers in there. I like new teams getting in the World Series, but I think the Dodgers are just too strong all around.

  2. Orial

    October 12, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Gonna sound boring Rich but I too see Astros in 6. Dodgers in 5 with Buehler ,who the O’s coveted, being a bright spot. Yeah Manny continues building his resume’. Btw when this is all said and done the O’s should start raiding the Astros front office for any young/progressive talent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Orial, you’re never boring.

  3. bigdaddydk

    October 12, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I’m going with Houston based on superior pitching top to bottom. Good pitching tends to beat good hitting more often than not. In the NL, I think the Dodgers win it, but I’m rooting for Milwaukee. Mainly for the same reason. The Dodgers have better pitching overall. Milwaukee is relying on Wade Miley, for one. Miley’s numbers, although much better this year, make him look primed for regression, and that can happen any time. Too few strikeouts and not enough soft contact. Milwaukee’s bullpen has been rock solid, and they’ll need to not be overworked to have any chance against the Dodgers.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:50 am

      I agree with your logic, bigdaddy. Watching former Orioles in the postseason is always interesting.

  4. Sisco Kid

    October 12, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I don’t like it, but I’m gonna disagree with everyone and take the BoSox in 7. I’m also picking the Brewers to upset the Dodgers in 5.
    Red Sox are somehow considered the underdog even though they were the best team in the AL this year. I think they’ll get off to a slow start and get down in the series, then come back and win it in the end.
    In regard to the Brewers, they’ve got momentum and a good story, like the Astros did last year. I think they can ride that to a pretty convincing series victory. Once we reach the WS, I think the Brewers shock the world and destroy the MLB’s hopes of having a big market team take home the trophy.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Sisco, I don’t think MLB cares who takes home the trophy. I think they like having big market teams in the World Series. The Brewers aren’t terribly well-known nationally, although if you’re correct, that will change quickly.

  5. Steve Cockey

    October 12, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I’m picking the Astros and Brewers. I love Milwaukee’s bullpen, and the Astros are just so strong from top to bottom. I think they’ll repeat as World Series champs.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Steve, I think the story of the NLCS will be the Brewers’ bullpen faltering, and watching the Astros here two weeks ago, I was convinced they’re the best team going.

  6. Jack Gibbons

    October 12, 2018 at 10:40 am

    The Astros-Red Sox matchup reminds me of the 1970 World Series, when the Orioles won 108 games during the regular season, and the Reds won 102. Except this time, it might be that the two best teams are in the same league. I like the Astros, whose pitching was better this year and whose offense seems to be getting stronger at the right time. I agree with Rich: Astros in 6. I also agree with Rich on the NLCS between Manny Machado’s Dodgers and Jonathan Schoop’s Brewers, although Schoop has struggled in Milwaukee and isn’t a prime-time player at this point. Machado is, and I think he’ll help lead the Dodgers to victory in six games.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Jack, it seems as if a lot of the readers are on the Astros bandwagon, and I think they have another advantage. A.J. Hinch has now been through three postseasons in his first four seasons as Houston’s manager, and I think that’s a big deal.

  7. boss61

    October 12, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I love playoff baseball. I love it more when we are in it (I still watch Delmon’s Double, regularly). Rich, your analyses are well thought out. Teams like the Dodgers sometimes find ways to lose though. Astros in 6, Brewers in 7. Milwaukee seems like a team of destiny.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Mark, it seems like a lot of people agree with you on the Brewers.

  8. Jbigle1

    October 12, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see if the brewers can pull this series off by bullpening. It would t surprise me if the longest one of their starters went was 4 innings in this series. The dodgers outside of Jansen, have a very questionable pen. That could flip things in the series if they can’t find a bridge from their starters to Jansen. I think the dodgers win it in 6 but if the brewers pull it out I wouldn’t be surprised. If the Sox managed to knock off the Astros, that’d surprise me. I don’t like their bullpen even more than LAD. That rotation in Houston is just insane. They didn’t even need to tap into their great bullpen against the Indians. Outside of sale, I don’t think any of the Boston’s starters can outpitch Houston’s. Price is a mess. Porcello and Eovaldi threw 2 great games v NY but do you think they can repeat that? I’m not so sure.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Jbigle, thank you for your analysis.


    October 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    I will go with Boston in 7 games. Very impressive with the way the Sox handled the Yankees. They went to NY and left no doubt which team was better. Houston is a very good team but their pitching was shaky in the post-season last year.
    I will also pick Milwaukee in 6 games. The Dodgers havent been consistent this year and I think playing Atlanta was a big break for them. Rooting for Machado to go 0-for-25.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      Danno, most people here are picking the Astros, so it’s nice to have some different thinking.

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