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A brief preview of MLB’s division series

Playoff baseball resumes on Saturday!

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

MLB’s four division series will get under way Saturday, all eight remaining teams in action.

Here’s a brief summary of each of the four series. At the time this preview posted, only a handful of the starting pitchers had been announced, so this is a bit more of a guessing game than usual.

On the other hand, if teams in this round do what the Blue Jays did in the last one with pitchers, they might not last very long.

Rangers vs. Orioles

Regular season finishes:

Rangers: 90-72, second wild card, defeated Rays in wild card series
Orioles: 101-61, A.L. East champions

The Rangers had a weird year. They were in first place in the A.L. West almost all year until a 4-16 (!) stretch dumped them into third place. They recovered to finish the year 14-8, but a 1-0 loss to the Mariners on the season’s last day forced them into a tie for the division lead, and the Astros had the tiebreaker. Two relatively easy wins over the Rays in the wild card series put them here.

The Orioles won 101 games just two years after losing 110. That’s a pretty amazing feat. They have built this almost entirely from within, with top draft picks Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson (the latter the likely A.L. Rookie of the Year) leading the way.

Baltimore took over the A.L. East lead shortly after the All-Star break and did not relinquish it the rest of the way.

These teams split six regular season games, but I think the O’s are just too good.

Orioles in four.

Twins vs. Astros

Regular season finishes:

Twins: 87-75, A.L. Central champions
Astros: 90-72, A.L. West champions

As the team with the worst record among the division champs, the Twins had to go through a wild card series, but they dispatched the Blue Jays pretty quickly.

They were only four games over .500 when September began, but went 18-10 after that to run away with a weak division.

The Astros, meanwhile, muddled along for most of the year not looking at all like the 106-win team of a year ago. They spent just 19 days in first place, most of them in September.

I know one thing about this series: Outside of Houston, pretty much everyone in America will be rooting for the Twins to win this series. Minnesota just won their first postseason series in 21 years, and including those two games have won 10 of their last 13.

The Twins won the regular season series four games to two.

Twins in five.

Phillies vs. Braves

Regular season finishes:

Phillies: 90-72, first wild card, defeated Marlins in wild card series
Braves: 104-58, N.L. East champions, MLB’s best regular season record

As Cubs fans, we saw just how good the Braves are during the season’s final week. Or, perhaps more accurately, how well the Braves take advantage of the other team’s mistakes. The Phillies are going to have to play their best baseball to win this series.

Including the two wins over the Marlins in the wild card series, the Phillies have won 10 of their last 13. But the Braves won seven of their last 10, although they will have had five days off. They’ve played some intrasquad games in Truist Park to fill up the time.

The Braves won eight of 13 from the Phillies during the season. Oddly, the teams did better in the other one’s park. The Braves went 5-1 in Philadelphia this year, but just 3-4 against the Phillies in Atlanta.

Braves in four.

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

Regular season finishes:

Diamondbacks: 84-78, third wild card, defeated Brewers in wild card series
Dodgers: 100-62, N.L. West champions

This looks like a mismatch, but Arizona was in first place in the N.L. West for much of June and July before a nine-game losing streak in early August dumped them into third place. They were under .500 at 59-60 on August 14 and went 25-18 the rest of the way to take this wild card spot. (The Cubs were 22-22 over the same time frame; just one win over the D-backs instead of a loss would have given the Cubs the postseason spot, since that would have made the Cubs 84-78 and the D-backs 83-79.)


The Dodgers led the division early on, ceding the lead to the D-backs with a 12-12 June, but went 24-5 (!) in August to take the lead back and they wound up winning the division by 16 games.

L.A. does have some starting pitching issues, but they’re just too good. They took eight of 13 from Arizona during the regular season and will win this series.

Dodgers in four.


Who will win the Orioles/Rangers series?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    (97 votes)
  • 25%
    (33 votes)
130 votes total Vote Now


Who will win the Astros/Twins series?

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  • 56%
    (71 votes)
  • 43%
    (55 votes)
126 votes total Vote Now


Who will win the Braves/Phillies series?

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  • 71%
    (90 votes)
  • 28%
    (36 votes)
126 votes total Vote Now


Who will win the Diamondbacks/Dodgers series?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    (46 votes)
  • 63%
    (81 votes)
127 votes total Vote Now