World Series Predictions: Our ‘Expert’ Picks As 2022 MLB Playoffs Begin

Will the Braves repeat as champions this postseason?


October 6

The end of the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season lacked drama, with five of the six division champions winning by at least seven games and the wild-card races losing luster down the stretch.

Fortunately, everything’s about to change.

The MLB postseason begins Friday, with four wild-card matchups — two in the American League and two in the National League — on the schedule. The eight teams participating in the new-look wild-card round, which consists of four best-of-three series, are vying for spots in the Division Series, where the Houston Astros and New York Yankees await in the AL and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves stand by in the NL.

The Braves, of course, are the defending World Series champions. But they’ll be tested in their effort to repeat, starting in the NLDS when they face the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals series. The Dodgers will play the winner of the San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets matchup.

Meanwhile, the Astros are trying to reach their fourth Fall Classic in six years. They’ll face the winner of the Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays series in the ALDS, while the Yankees will battle whoever emerges from the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians showdown.

So, who do we expect to reign supreme this October into November? The NESN Digital team offered its predictions before the regular season, but let’s go back to the drawing board and update our “expert” picks as the MLB playoffs begin.

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Mike Cole: Braves over Guardians
We’re gonna party like it’s 1995, as the Braves defy the odds and become the first team to repeat as champions since the Yankees’ dynasty. Atlanta has dependable starting pitching, especially if Spencer Strider is healthy, and a core of young stars who already have been there and done that bodes well for another deep run. Behind masterful work from Terry Francona, Cleveland’s little engine that could act gets them through the titans of the American League, but they fall just short as they can’t match Atlanta’s firepower.

Ricky Doyle: Dodgers over Blue Jays
I don’t love the optics of this matchup (too much blue). Nor am I totally confident in Toronto’s pitching, especially the bullpen outside of closer Jordan Romano. But the Jays feel like a sneaky post-hype sleeper this postseason given their ability to absolutely mash. And they also finished the regular season on a 24-12 run. That hot streak will continue through October, until they run into the Dodgers, whose otherworldly combination of star power and depth is too much for any team to overcome.

Scott Edwards: Braves over Astros
Picking the same matchup and result as last year might come off as boring to some, but it feels less likely than almost anything else on the board. The Astros have once again been the powerhouse of the AL, with Yordan Álvarez and Justin Verlander leading the way. The Yankees can’t stop them, and if they can’t, no one can, frankly.

The Astros have a complete team, but there’s something going on the with Braves, yet again, that feels magic. Atlanta struggled big to kick off the season but has managed to not only get back into it, but move past the Mets, a team that was on top pretty much until September. The Braves might have an even better team than last season’s World Series-winning roster. That’s scary. The Dodgers will do their best to be a roadblock, but a rematch with the Braves again going over the Astros feels inevitable.

Greg Dudek: Braves over Astros
Put it on repeat. While the potential loss of Spencer Strider hurts, the Braves still have plenty of pitching, especially in the back end of their bullpen. In this new-age of playoff baseball, bullpen arms are vital, as well as hitting the ball out of the ballpark, which Atlanta did more than any other National League team during the regular season.

Adam London: Astros over Braves
Predicting a World Series matchup repeat admittedly is pretty boring, but it’s tough to deny either of these juggernauts. You usually need a great bullpen to win the Fall Classic, and Houston relievers’ 2.80 ERA paced the big leagues. The Astros’ total team ERA, for that matter, sat at 2.89, so it’s tough to find offense against Dusty Baker’s club no matter who is on the mound.

The Braves, meanwhile, ranked in the top five in MLB in both team ERA and bullpen ERA, and they can hit the ball out of the ballpark better than most teams in the league. Atlanta’s 243 long balls trailed only those of the Yankees, who needed an historic season from Aaron Judge to top the leaderboard. These teams are so evenly matched, but I see Houston avenging last year’s verdict.

Sean McGuire: Braves over Yankees
New York finally will get past the Astros in the ALCS, but it will be too difficult to get past both Houston and Atlanta. These Braves seem to be even deeper than last year’s team that won the World Series.

Jason Ounpraseuth: Dodgers over Yankees
Is this a chalk pick? Yes, it is. But these two teams are just stacked from top to bottom. Los Angeles has a pitching staff that’s tough to beat, and it will be the difference in helping the Dodgers win their second title in three years.

Gio Rivera: Dodgers over Mariners
The Dodgers have assembled the most complete roster in Major League Baseball this season. Penning them down as the team to come out of the National League might sound like a safe choice. Still, let’s consider a couple of non-Los Angeles-friendly facts of the matter: 2020 (when the Dodgers won the World Series) was a 60-game regular season. And the Dodgers, while competing for titles on an annual basis, have yet to prove themselves when taking the field in front of a packed house in October. They now have a chance to easily end the stigma.

Now, as far as the American League is concerned, picking a dark-horse club is a must. With that said, how can you not be romantic about baseball? Especially during October. The Mariners are perhaps the most difficult team on the postseason bracket to project, and watching Ken Griffey Jr. attend a Fall Classic in Seattle would be the most epic sighting in the stands since part-time Guardians fan LeBron James and a shirtless J.R. Smith went berserk.

Two of baseball’s most-fun-to-watch outfielders (Mookie Betts and Julio Rodríguez), among others, while all sporting two of the all-time best uniforms. That’s must-watch baseball.

Keagan Stiefel: Astros over Braves
A rematch of the 2021 World Series might look like a boring/easy choice, but it’s hard to argue against either of these teams’ postseason pedigree. Houston has been the standard bearer in the American League for a half-decade, while Atlanta only has improved since its title run a year ago. I give the edge to the Astros, who won’t have to get knocked around by the Dodgers, Mets, Padres or Cardinals (who have “team of destiny” written all over them) on their way to the Fall Classic.

Lauren Willand: Dodgers over Astros
Maybe it’s the easy pick, but between experience and depth, it’s hard to see these two teams not making it to the Fall Classic. The addition of Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers will help LA’s offense go up against the Astros’ deep pitching. And with the Dodgers having all five of their starters’ ERAs sitting below 3.00, an LA World Series championship seems inevitable.

Ben Watanabe: Rays over Braves
Tampa Bay limped to the finish of the regular season and its past postseason failures are well-documented. But I have just as serious questions about the Guardians and Yankees, the two flawed teams they’d face en route to the ALCS. In the NL, I’m doing anything to justify not picking the Dodgers, so I’ll surmise that they walk over the Phillies while the Padres/Mets will beat up on each other to such an extent that the Braves outlast them.

Thumbnail photo via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images
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