Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Predicting the MLB division series


There really is something magical about playoff baseball, especially in the sport’s biggest league, Major League Baseball. The phenomenon that is “October baseball” is something that even non-baseball fans will tune in to see. With the sport moving into a new era of young and talented stars, this postseason edition should be nothing short of action-packed, explosive battles between the best teams in baseball. 

For those who are not familiar with the division series layout, it is a best-of-five series between eight different teams. There are four teams from the National League and the American League competing. The winners of the division series games will play a respective league opponent in the Championship series, which determines who will make it to the World Series. Let us look at all four matchups that make up the American League and National League division series.

American League

The AL has been known recently as the more offense-heavy league in MLB. That claim has never been more apparent than in the first matchup of the division series, which sees the Baltimore Orioles take on the Texas Rangers. Finishing with a 101-61 record in the regular season, which earned the team an American League East division title, the Orioles have one of the surprise packages this season. With a young core led by catcher Adley Rustchman, outfielder Cedric Mullins and future ace Grayson Rodriguez, the Maryland-based team is looking to become the next powerhouse in MLB. 

Using similar tactics that brought the Houston Astros success, Baltimore built from within and used the minor league system to develop top talent in the hope of producing future superstars. The biggest question that many have for Baltimore is its lack of postseason experience on the roster. It is one of the youngest rosters in all of baseball, which can sometimes hurt you at the end of the season. It will still be fun for many neutral fans who are ready to see a historic franchise contending for baseball’s ultimate prize.

Their opponent, however, had many people casting high expectations on them. This team is the Texas Rangers, who finished second in the A.L. West just behind the Astros, who many believe have a better chance of winning it all this postseason. The main strength of this squad is the hard-hitting offense, which boasts a collection of superstars, both novice and experienced. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager had down years in their first seasons in Arlington, but have now bounced back with all-star performances. Semien finished the regular season with a .276 batting average and 29 home runs, while Seager finished with a .327 average and 33 homers despite being out for a little under half the season.

The Rangers also possess young and exciting talents like outfielder Evan Carter and San Antonio’s own Josh Jung. The major area of concern for Texas is the bullpen, which blew 33 saves, the worst in all of baseball. While the pitching looked solid in the wild card series against Tampa Bay, can they keep it up against one of the best teams in baseball? My prediction is that the Orioles win the series in four games, in which I see the Rangers’ bullpen collapsing near the end. 

The other series in the AL sees the Houston Astros take on the Minnesota Twins. The Astros were somehow able to claim yet another A.L. West division title from underneath the noses of their in-state rivals. The defending World Series champions will look to repeat the feat from last year, but many questions have been asked about their offensive production. Stars like Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve have been riddled with injuries, while young star Jeremy Pena has not had the same success as last season. The pitching staff has been decent, with future hall of famer Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez carrying the load. 

The hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat as champion, but if any team could do it, it would be the Astros. This is a team that just always finds a way to get it done when it matters. Despite the cheating scandal surrounding the 2017 World Series title, the Astros have been one of baseball’s most consistent franchises in the past ten years. Surely they could not win back-to-back World Series titles, could they?

The team that stands in its way first are underdogs, the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have a historic franchise that has not seen major success since the 1990s. Back in the postseason, the Twins were looking to send shockwaves throughout the entirety of baseball. The team is talented, with former Astro Carlos Correa leading the way for the scrappy and hard-nosed ballclub. Minnesota is veteran-heavy, which could help them in this postseason, as teams with playoff experience tend to perform better when it matters.

The pitching staff is aging however, and it remains to be seen if the Twins will be able to handle the bats of the Astros, who once they get hot, will not be cooled down. The prediction for this series is that the Astros comfortably win this series by three games to one.

National League

Moving over to the NL, these series, in my opinion, look to be very one-sided. We will start with the battle of the NL West teams, which includes the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of baseball’s oldest and most successful organizations, winning seven World Series throughout their history. All signs are pointing to them potentially playing for one yet again, as the southern California club has one of the deepest rosters in baseball. Big names fill the team sheet with the likes of former MVP winners Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as well as current stars such as Will Smith and Bobby Miller. Despite having numerous injuries, the Dodgers still look like a solid contender for yet another deep playoff run.

The Diamondbacks could be considered by many to be a few years ahead of schedule. Led by rookie of the year candidate Corbin Carroll, the D-Backs already pulled off the upset in the wild card round where they swept the Milwaukee Brewers in front of a hostile crowd. Since the two teams are in the same division, they know each other in and out, which can hurt or harm both teams. I will go with a safe prediction of a Dodgers sweep, as I feel they just have too much talent for Arizona. Keep an eye out for the Diamondbacks in a year or two.

The final matchup will be between teams in the same division, this time in the N.L. East where the Atlanta Braves matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves are looking to bring home another World Series title to the South just like they did in 2021. The team has a good mix of youth and experience, with Matt Olsen and Ozzie Albies some of the standout names. None stand out more than Ronald Acuna Jr, who looks set to win the N.L. MVP. The generational talent was hurt when the Braves won it two years ago, so he will look to be an active participant in this run.

The runners up last year are back in the postseason yet again. That would be the Philadelphia Phillies, who fell in six games to the Astros in the 2022 World Series. Stars such as Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Kyle Scharwber make up the core of the Phillies offense, with a dominant bullpen hoping to anchor the Phillies to another deep run. Questions have been asked about the starting pitching, which I feel will get exposed during this series. I have the Braves sweeping the Phillies and making it to the NLCS.

It is going to be an eventful few days in sports, but there is no doubt that playoff baseball will be a must-see TV. The ups and downs of the sport are unpredictable, and who knows, maybe an upset or two can occur. This is baseball, where anything can happen.

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About the Contributor
Connor Suehs
Connor Suehs, Staff Writer
Connor (he/him) is a junior communication major at UTSA. This semester is Connor's first at The Paisano. Connor covers UTSA Athletics and the San Antonio Missions, as well as the Austin Spurs for the Project Spurs Network and high school football for Texas Sports Productions. He loves to shine a spotlight on the power of sports within our society. Aside from writing, Connor's hobbies are playing video games, hanging out with friends and watching sports.

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