As a 2019 MLB regular season characterized by polarized groups of excellent and horrific teams nears its conclusion, the playoffs should bring the kind of competitive action baseball fans crave.
This year’s storylines have been percolating since 2016, and their conclusions will help define this era for the sport. Can the Dodgers overcome their recent World Series failures? Can the Astros make it two titles in three years? Will an unexpected team fracture the league’s power balance?
In any case, we’re in for a fantastic month that will haunt every fan base but one for the foreseeable future.
Sporting News has created a handy guide for fans to track October games and get to know the teams better:
MLB playoff schedule: October dates for postseason baseball
|NL wild-card game||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 1||TBA||TBS|
|AL wild-card game||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 2||TBA||ESPN|
A = Involves club with best record; B = Does not involve club with best record
|NLDS ‘A’ Game 1||TBA||Thursday, Oct. 3||TBA||TBS|
|NLDS ‘B’ Game 1||TBA||Thursday, Oct. 3||TBA||TBS|
|ALDS ‘A’ Game 1||TBA||Friday, Oct. 4||TBA||MLBN or FS1|
|ALDS ‘B’ Game 1||TBA||Friday, Oct. 4||TBA||MLBN or FS1|
|NLDS ‘A’ Game 2||TBA||Friday, Oct. 4||TBA||TBS|
|NLDS ‘B’ Game 2||TBA||Friday, Oct. 4||TBA||TBS|
|ALDS ‘A’ Game 2||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 5||TBA||FS1|
|ALDS ‘B’ Game 2||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 5||TBA||FS1|
|NLDS ‘A’ Game 3||TBA||Sunday, Oct. 6||TBA||TBS|
|NLDS ‘B’ Game 3||TBA||Sunday, Oct. 6||TBA||TBS|
|ALDS ‘A’ Game 3||TBA||Monday, Oct. 7||TBA||MLBN or FS1|
|ALDS ‘B’ Game 3||TBA||Monday, Oct. 7||TBA||MLBN or FS1|
|NLDS ‘A’ Game 4 (if necessary)||TBA||Monday, Oct. 7||TBA||TBS|
|NLDS ‘B’ Game 4 (if necessary)||TBA||Monday, Oct. 7||TBA||TBS|
|ALDS ‘A’ Game 4 (if necessary)||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 8||TBA||FS1|
|ALDS ‘B’ Game 4 (if necessary)||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 8||TBA||FS1|
|NLDS ‘A’ Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 9||TBA||TBS|
|NLDS ‘B’ Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 9||TBA||TBS|
|ALDS ‘A’ Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Thursday, Oct. 10||TBA||FS1|
|ALDS ‘B’ Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Thursday, Oct. 10||TBA||FS1|
League Championship Series
|NLCS Game 1||TBA||Friday, Oct. 11||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 1||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 12||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 2||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 12||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 2||TBA||Sunday, Oct. 13||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 3||TBA||Monday, Oct. 14||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 3||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 15||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 4||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 15||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 4||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 16||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 16||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Thursday, Oct. 17||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 6 (if necessary)||TBA||Friday, Oct. 18||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 6 (if necessary)||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 19||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|NLCS Game 7 (if necessary)||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 19||TBA||TBS|
|ALCS Game 7 (if necessary)||TBA||Sunday, Oct. 20||TBA||Fox or FS1|
|World Series Game 1||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 22||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 2||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 23||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 3||TBA||Friday, Oct. 25||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 4||TBA||Saturday, Oct. 26||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 5 (if necessary)||TBA||Sunday, Oct. 27||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 6 (if necessary)||TBA||Tuesday, Oct. 29||TBA||Fox|
|World Series Game 7 (if necessary)||TBA||Wednesday, Oct. 30||TBA||Fox|
What TV channels are the MLB playoffs on?
The wild-card games are on TBS and ESPN. All NLDS and NLCS games will be broadcast on TBS. ALDS and ALCS games will be split between MLB Network, Fox Sports 1 and Fox.
Which teams are in the 2019 MLB playoffs?
The Yankees, Astros, Braves and Dodgers have clinched postseason spots. (This list will be updated as teams clinch the remaining six berths.)
When does baseball’s postseason end?
The earliest day the postseason could end is Oct. 26. The latest day the postseason could end is Oct. 30.
How does the wild card work?
The two best non-division winners in each league square off in a one-game playoff. The club with the superior record hosts that contest. The team that advances from the wild-card game will face the top team in its league.
Why the Yankees will win the World Series
Despite being ravaged by injuries since the start of the season, the Yankees have crossed the 100-win threshold, in large part because of surprise contributions from journeymen such as Luke Voit, Gio Urshela and Cameron Maybin. With those hitters still producing, and mashers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton finally healthy, New York carries a ferocious — some might even say savage — lineup into October. Further boosted by the aura of playoff baseball in the Bronx, this offense will steamroll its way to another championship, overcoming occasional blips from the rotation.
Why the Yankees will NOT win the World Series
Luis Severino’s 2018 shellacking in the ALDS proves indicative of larger problems for the still-rusty right-hander, and he fails to live up to hopes he can be the staff’s playoff ace. James Paxton is unspectacular, Masahiro Tanaka endures at least one of the early-inning meltdowns that have plagued him and puts stress on the bullpen, and the club’s middle-relief options fail to consistently bridge to Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Aroldis Chapman. While the offense puts up big run tallies in a couple of games, it isn’t enough to get through a loaded AL field.
Why the Dodgers will win the World Series
Have you seen their roster? It’s absolutely stacked with veterans fired up by recent World Series failure and rookies trying to prove themselves. Last year’s group, which lost in the Fall Classic to the Red Sox, has been bolstered this year by internal improvements and call-ups. Cody Bellinger is an MVP front-runner now. Hyun-jin Ryu has the best ERA in baseball. Newcomers Will Smith, Gavin Lux and Dustin May have been instant MLB hits and are among those primed for October breakouts. Los Angeles, then, will toss aside its unproven NL competition before surviving a tough World Series test to claim its first championship since 1988.
Why the Dodgers will NOT win the World Series
Closer Kenley Jansen’s decline this season carries over to the playoffs, making almost every ninth-inning a terrifying adventure for the Dodgers. Los Angeles’ decision not to boost its bullpen backfires, too, as its high hopes for Joe Kelly, Kenta Maeda and perhaps Julio Urias are exposed as brutal misjudgments. Instead of overcoming prior disappointment, the team blows its 2019 chances in dramatic, heartbreaking fashion.
Why the Astros will win the World Series
Perhaps overlooked because of the talent of the Yankees and Dodgers, the Astros claim their second title in three years behind one of the best rotations in playoff history and a balanced offense. There are few, if any, apparent weaknesses with this squad. The lineup can crack any pitching staff with George Springer, Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and, if healthy, Carlos Correa. The rotation has two likely Hall of Fame right-handers in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, as well as a potential Cy Young winner in Gerrit Cole. The bullpen features several elite arms, including Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. Good luck inflicting even a scratch upon Houston.
Why the Astros will NOT win the World Series
Having been mediocre against top AL contenders throughout the regular season, the Astros never reach another gear and fail to replicate the magic of 2017. Injuries, which have been their greatest source of frustration of late, continue to mount rather than dissipate. Their balance makes them competitive, but an explosive stretch by an opponent against their top arms deals a fatal blow to their championship ambitions.
Why the Braves will win the World Series
There might not be another team in the league with the swagger or fun level these young Braves enjoy. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies lead the lighthearted side of the squad, backing up their abundant energy with their special blend of speed and power. Veterans Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson, meanwhile, offer a steadying presence in the clubhouse. Atlanta’s bullpen, its glaring weakness this year, does enough to be a net positive, mirroring the 2018 Red Sox en route to a title.
Why the Braves will NOT win the World Series
Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and the rest of the bullpen are who many Braves fans thought they were: a mistake-prone unit unfit to pitch in October. As a result, Atlanta wastes another chance to cash in on its talented roster, withering away in the NLDS again.
Why a dark horse team will make a surprise World Series run
Secondary World Series contenders, mindful of past letdowns, are hungry to advance deep into the fall. That motivation could add an edge to their play. The Twins, A’s and Nationals, should they qualify, could undo decades of playoff futility with a deep run, and their fan bases are eager to push them there. Same goes for the Rays. The Indians, of course, have reached the World Series three times since 1995 and fallen short on each occasion. For others, such as the Cubs and Cardinals, there is motivation to reassert themselves as MLB front-runners and satisfy their own rabid supporters.
There is plenty of talent among these teams, from Minnesota’s home run hitting Bomba Squad to Oakland’s one-two punch of Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien to Washington’s Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon. Perhaps the weaknesses of these sides have been overstated, and they’ll rise above the heavy favorites. They certainly carry the star power to make the most of their playoff appearances.