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Each Playoff Team’s Path to a World Series Title

Each Playoff Team’s Path to a World Series Title

As far as the postseason picture goes, it appears as though we finally have clarity. No- we do not know where each team will stand, or even which ten exact teams will qualify for the playoffs, but we do have a solid sense of how things will shake out. It’s pretty safe to say that the field has shrunk to twelve clubs. So, with the best case scenario being a World Series championship, what is each team’s most likely path to a title?

The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the World Series if…

Clayton Kershaw lives up to his billing. Maybe it’s because we’re still hungover from 2016’s “Year of the Cubs,” but many seem to underestimate just how good this Dodgers team is. They are on pace to win over 110 games and could cruise to the National League pennant so long as Kershaw finally has the magical postseason run we are all waiting for. Some combination of Yu Darvish, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda should give the Dodgers enough to win in the playoffs, but Kershaw must be elite.

The Washington Nationals will win the World Series if…

Their revamped bullpen holds up. Up until a few weeks ago, the bullpen was the only obvious weakness on the Nationals roster. After making moves for relievers such as Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler, Washington has all the pieces in place to win a championship. With Bryce Harper set to play a contract year in 2018, the time is now.

The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series if…

The players behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo carry their load. At this point, we know what to expect from Bryant and Rizzo. It’s up to complementary pieces like Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez to do their part on a team that does not have the same starting pitching strength that it did in the past.

The Colorado Rockies will win the World Series if…

Nolan Arenado becomes 2015 postseason Daniel Murphy. Alright, alright- he doesn’t have to be that good, but still the point remains that Arenado must perform at an all-world level to carry this team to a championship. That’s not to say that the Rockies aren’t talented, but with most of their starting pitching comprised of rookies with little playoff experience, it’s tough to see Colorado winning the whole thing.

The Arizona Diamondbacks will win the World Series if…

Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and Zach Godley have a coming out party. The trio has quietly been one of the best in baseball, averaging a 3.00 ERA into August. Arizona has enough offense to sneak into the NLCS, and if their starting pitching has anything to say about it they could be a surprise representative for the National League in the World Series.

The Houston Astros will win the World Series if…

Lance McCullers is an above average starter. There’s no reason to question Houston’s offense- it’s the best in baseball. But most were surprised when the club did not make a move for a starting pitcher at the deadline, a roll of the dice that leaves McCullers as the number two guy in the playoff rotation. Assuming Dallas Keuchel is healthy, it is up to McCullers to keep the momentum going come playoff time.

The Cleveland Indians will win the World Series if…

Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor rake. These two are the key to Cleveland’s offense and in turn, their World Series chances. Should they get hot at the right time, the Indians could very well find themselves in the Fall Classic for the second consecutive season.

The New York Yankees will win the World Series if…

Masahiro Tanaka resembles his old self in the playoffs. The Yankees can make the playoffs with a sub-par Tanaka, but they certainly can not win the World Series without the good version of the Japanese starter. Tanaka has pitched to a 5.09 ERA in 2017, which will simply not be good enough in October. If Tanaka can get himself right, the Yankees are a dangerous threat to the rest of the American League.

The Boston Red Sox will win the World Series if…

They start hitting home runs. It seems as though this is the only thing holding the Red Sox back from emerging as the best team in the American League. Boston is 28th in MLB in home runs, a startling statistic given their level of talent. It’s clear that the Sox miss David Ortiz’s bat in this regard. They’ll need to get back to hitting the ball out of park in order to win a title.

The Seattle Mariners will win the World Series if…

Felix Hernandez can return to form. King Felix’s 4.28 ERA is a far cry from what we are used to, but it’s not impossible to imagine him performing well should the Mariners make it to the postseason.

The Kansas City Royals will win the World Series if…

They can re-create the formula that they rode to a title in 2015. Small ball, decent starting pitching, and elite bullpen performance. With most of their World Series team still in tact, it’d be foolish to count out the Royals.

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