The 2020 Major League Baseball campaign already has been unlike any other thanks to a 60-game regular-season schedule.
Now, the real madness begins.
The MLB postseason kicks off Tuesday, beginning with a wild-card round comprised of 16 teams playing in eight best-of-three series. All games played in the opening round will be hosted in the higher seed’s ballpark.
The eight winners will advance to the divisional round, which will be its usual best-of-five format. The American League Division Series matchups will be held at Petco Park in San Diego and Angel Stadium in Los Angeles, while the National League Division Series matchups will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington and Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The ALCS and NLCS — both best-of-seven series — will take place at Petco Park and Globe Life Field, respectively, and the (best-of-seven) World Series will unfold at the latter.
So, which team will stand tall when the dust settles after an unprecedented year of baseball? Here are our NESN.com staff picks ahead of the playoffs, because who doesn’t like a good prediction?
Ben Watanabe: Los Angeles Dodgers over Cleveland Indians
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where Cleveland’s offense is going to come from, so I suppose I’m rolling the dice that a few hitters — Jose Ramirez, maybe? — will get hot enough to support the stellar pitching staff. On the NL side, I suspect we’ll get the familiar, boring outcome of the Dodgers coming out of the scrum yet again. But this time, Mookie Betts and their pitching depth gets them over the hump.
Mike Cole: Atlanta Braves over Tampa Bay Rays
I picked the Braves over the Rays to start the season, so I’m pot-committed to this prediction. Atlanta’s toughest test actually will be the Reds to open the postseason, but if the Braves get by Cincinnati, few teams match the top-end offensive talent of players like Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna and Marcell Ozuna. The Braves get hot and get to relive the glory days by slugging their way to a title, dispelling the notion that good pitching beats good hitting — at least for one very weird year.
Ricky Doyle: Oakland Athletics over San Diego Padres
Matt Chapman’s season-ending hip surgery was a huge blow, and the A’s rotation doesn’t exactly evoke fear in opponents. But Oakland’s bullpen and defense remain among MLB’s best. And those two strengths will carry the A’s past San Diego, the most exciting team in baseball, after the Padres upset the stacked Dodgers in the NLDS.
Marcus O’Mard: Minnesota Twins over Los Angeles Dodgers
The Twins are stacked with power hitting and starting pitching, and they’re healthy. The Dodgers are in a similar boat, obviously, but they’ll crack under pressure… again.
Logan Mullen: Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Dodgers
Tampa’s pitching is just too good, and the Rays have arguably the “easiest” path to the World Series out of the AL. And what better way for a 2020 season to finish up than with the Rays winning it all, mere weeks after the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup?
Adam London: Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago White Sox
I can’t see the Dodgers facing a ton of resistance en route to their third Fall Classic appearance in four seasons. The South Siders aren’t as experienced as the other clubs in the AL field, but their lineup is awfully potent and their pitching shouldn’t be scoffed at. Chicago will outlast the AL Central division rival Indians in the ALCS, but it ultimately will fall on the championship stage to the most talented team in baseball.
Dakota Randall: Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Dodgers
I predicted Rays over Dodgers in our preseason predictions, and I’m sticking with that pick. Neither team has done anything to change my mind, plus I’m nothing if not a man of convictions. On paper, the Dodgers are the better team, and they have Mookie Betts, potentially the best player in the playoffs. From top to bottom, Los Angeles has the best roster in the game. However, the Rays — with their strong starting rotation, excellent bullpen, capable offense and ability to manage situational baseball at a high level — are built for the modern postseason. They’ll beat the Dodgers in seven games.
Andre Khatchaturian: Oakland Athletics over Los Angeles Dodgers
The Nationals won the World Series last season despite having the worst bullpen ERA in the NL. This season, the A’s and Dodgers, who have the two best bullpens in baseball, will meet in the Fall Classic, but it’ll be a Clayton Kershaw collapse (again) that will hand Oakland its first title since 1990.
Marc DiBenedetto: Los Angeles Dodgers over Minnesota Twins
As I predicted before the season, the Dodgers, led by Mookie Betts, had a dominant regular season. Los Angeles is the only team to have five players with 12 or more home runs. That’s gotta be worth something, right? Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw went 6-2 in 11 starts, allowing four runs once and three or fewer runs in every other outing. The 32-year-old never went beyond seven innings, but I expect him to let loose in the playoffs and lead the Dodgers to their elusive World Series title. Lock in Kershaw for two wins in two starts in the World Series.
Patrick McAvoy: Los Angeles Dodgers over Minnesota Twins
Well, the Mets somehow won’t be taking home the trophy this season, but that just means it’s the Dodgers’ time to shine. Clayton Kershaw returned to form and Walker Buehler continued his progression into being one of the top hurlers in the game. Mookie Betts played like Mookie Betts and the Dodgers dominated from Day 1. LA is poised to keep rolling.