All 30 teams have played 162 regular season games, 10 of those teams survived to October and the playoff fun begins. Ben Steele previews the upcoming month of action.
"The combination of power hitting and a great batting average, along with their pitching makes the Astros a great side who are well worth their tag as favourites to win the World Series."
Houston pitching the key to contention
Back in August, I picked the Astros to win the World Series due to the strength of their pitching rotation, and the vaunted group of hurlers have done little to change my mind. Houston have a pair of 20 win pitchers, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who will no doubt complete an Astros 1-2 in Cy Young Award voting. Add to that Zack Greinke, who won 18 games, and closer Roberto Osuna, who's 38 saves were second most in the majors and the American League top seed will rightly be very confident.
In addition to a historically good rotation the Astros have an exceptionally batting line up. Alex Bregman hit 41 home runs while George Springer, who has a history of playoff heroics, hit 39. Only the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins hit more homers than Houston and no squad had a better batting average.
The combination of power hitting and a great batting average, along with their pitching makes the Astros a great side who are well worth their tag as favourites to win the World Series.
Can somebody finally topple LA?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost the last two World Series, so unsurprisingly have been installed as favourites to win the National League. Unfortunately for LA, the level of competition in the National League playoff field is probably the strongest it has been in a while. The Atlanta Braves are a young, talented side who, in the form of Ronald Acuna Jr, have a genuine MVP candidate. Acuna hit 41 homers and stole 37 bases, displaying his versatility as he led the Braves side to 97 wins in 2019.
LA will have to face either the Milwaukee Brewers or the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, a pair of teams who have been involved in a thrilling NL wildcard race and are battle hardened so I expect the National League playoffs to be an intriguing prospect.
Los Angeles boast the best batting lineup in the NL but with an impressive group chasing them they will need to be at their best. I think that Atlanta, at 11/4, are a good price to be the team who represent the National League in the World Series.
Woodruff the man for Milwaukee
Milwaukee Brewers @ Washington Nationals
Wednesday 01:10 BST
Live on BT Sport ESPN
The Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals kick off the 2019 playoffs tonight, and it is Milwaukee pitcher Brandon Woodruff who will be the man to beat. The Brewers went 18-4 in games started by the 26-year-old this year and facing Max Scherzer, who is yet to win a playoff game he will fancy his chances of improving on that record. Milwaukee finished the season in impressive form, and could cause an upset against Washington.
Milwaukee have a power hitting lineup who have coped well with the loss of 2018 MVP Christian Yelich, so even though they are the outsiders in tonight's elimination game, look for them to advance to face the Dodgers off the back of an impressive Woodruff performance.