Only one round remains before the World Series. Both the American and National League Championship Series have exciting match-ups to anticipate. On one end, we have the defending World Series Champions, in the Houston Astros, going up against the Boston Red Sox. While on the other we have the hungriest team to enter the fray, the Milwaukee Brewers, taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here is what to look out for in the upcoming League Championship bouts.
AL Championship Series: Houston vs Boston
In the AL Championship Series, we have a classic case of “an unstoppable force vs an immovable object.” The unstoppable force here is the Boston Red Sox’s batting lineup. A batting order that includes Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts is demanding of attention, as well as meticulous preparation. Not to mention Andrew Benintendi is bursting head-first onto the scene. This is same Boston squad that led all of baseball in team batting average and total RBIs in this past regular season.
Now, meet the immovable object: Houston’s pitching rotation. This squad is a mutli-headed beast as well, with names like Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. All three of which are solid contenders for the AL Cy Young Award. Cole and Morton alone rock a combined record of 30-8 (Cole: 15-5, Morton: 15-3), as well as each boasting an ERA of under 3.20. With names like these on board, Houston holds the lowest team ERA and batting average allowed in the majors. Not to mention they were a big help in sweeping the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
What to Watch for?
Another big factor will be how Houston’s offense will fair against Boston’s pitching crew. Houston also has an explosive offense in tow. That lineup includes George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and breakout star Alex Bregman. Boston’s starting rotation is no slouch either. With names like Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Hector Velazquez, the crew has definitely pulled its own weight this season.
As much as the league talks about Boston’s offense and Houston’s pitching, this is what could determine who will win the Championship Series pennant.
NL Championship Series: Milwaukee vs Los Angeles
In the NL Championship Series, we see a similar case between Milwaukee’s offense vs Los Angeles’ pitching rotation. But a bigger factor to take into consideration is playoff experience. The Milwaukee Brewers have not tasted the playoffs since 2011. They have not seen the NLCS since that year either. Manager Craig Counsell will have to play his cards right more than ever. Yes, Milwaukee swept their NLDS opponent, and Christian Yelich is on a tear. But now, they face a battle-hardened Dodgers squad with a terrifying pitching crew.
Speaking of which, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be playing in their third-straight NLCS. Much of the familiar cast are around for the throw-down. Those names include Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Cody Bellinger. Their richer playoff experience played in their favor against a young Atlanta Braves, winning the NLDS in four games. Manager Dave Roberts no doubt has proven to be one of the sharpest minds in the NL. But he cannot take a hungry Brew Crew lightly. As previously mentioned, Milwaukee swept a strong Colorado Rockies team boasting Silver Sluggers like Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story.
What to Watch For?
As we said before, the “unstoppable force vs immovable object” scenario takes place here as well. In this case, it’s Milwaukee’s offense vs Los Angeles’ pitching. One of the most anticipated pitcher-vs-batter showdowns in October is LA’s Clayton Kershaw vs Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich. But each team has plenty of weapons to work beside these two. Milwaukee also has to prepare for Rich Hill, Alex Woo, and Walker Beuhler. Los Angeles also needs to anticipate the likes of Jesus Aguilar, Lorenzo Cain and Travis Shaw.
Featured image courtesy of USA Today
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