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Picks are in: Experts predict the postseason

September 28, 2020

Who will win the 2020 World Series? How will the postseason play out? MLB.com's experts weigh in here with their predictions for every playoff series from the Wild Card Series through the Fall Classic. RICHARD JUSTICE ALWC winners: TB, NYY, MIN, CHW NLWC winners: STL, LAD, ATL, CHC ALDS: TB-NYY

Who will win the 2020 World Series? How will the postseason play out?

MLB.com's experts weigh in here with their predictions for every playoff series from the Wild Card Series through the Fall Classic.

RICHARD JUSTICE

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, MIN, CHW
NLWC winners: STL, LAD, ATL, CHC
ALDS: TB-NYY -- Rays in 4
ALDS: CHW-MIN -- Twins in 5
NLDS: LAD-STL -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: CHC-ATL -- Braves in 5
NLCS: LAD-ATL -- Dodgers in 7
ALCS: TB-MIN -- Rays in 6
WS: LAD-TB -- Dodgers in 7

The Dodgers will finally break through in October, with Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw commanding the postseason stage. L.A. has been baseball’s best team and will be the best in October. Despite one of MLB’s longest injury lists, the Rays have enough power arms to win, along with a manager and front office that expertly utilizes its talent. So many other teams are capable of winning that this is likely to be a wildly entertaining postseason.

Ranking every playoff team's lineup, pitching

JESSE SANCHEZ

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, CHW, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, MIA, CIN
ALDS: TB-NYY -- Rays in 5
ALDS: CHW-MIN -- Twins in 5
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 5
NLDS: MIA-CIN -- Reds in 5
NLCS: LAD-CIN -- Dodgers in 5
ALCS: TB-MIN -- Rays in 6
WS: LAD-TB -- Dodgers in 6

This is the year the Dodgers win it all. They are the best team on paper, on the field and they have been all season. What’s different this year? Two words: Mookie Betts. One of the best players in the sport is going to showcase his talents on the game’s biggest stage, and baseball fans are in for a real treat. The rotation is deep enough, and the bullpen is effective enough to win a World Series. It’s also going to be fun to watch the Rays shine when the baseball world is watching. It’s time for everyone to start paying attention to what is happening with Tampa Bay.

Power rankings: Top teams rolling into October

ALYSON FOOTER

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, MIN, OAK
NLWC winners: SD, LAD, CIN, MIA
ALDS: Twins-A’s -- Twins in 4
ALDS: Rays-Yankees -- Rays in 5
NLDS: Dodgers-Padres -- Dodgers in 5
NLDS: Marlins-Reds -- Reds in 4
NLCS: Dodgers-Reds -- Dodgers in 6
ALCS: Twins-Rays -- Rays in 6
WS: Rays in 7

This isn’t complicated -- the Rays are good, they’re deep and they have plenty of talent to go the distance, especially with this year’s format of no off-days in the earlier rounds. We can quibble about their offense not being robust enough to fit the mold of a traditional World Series-caliber team, but if their pitching is strong enough -- and it is -- they can squeeze by in low-scoring games. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, but the Rays are the most prepared, and they’re the least likely of my two projected pennant winners to make poor decisions on the fly. That might be the difference between winning it and falling just short -- again.

The 2020 World Series urgency index

MARK FEINSAND

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, CHW, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, CHC, CIN
ALDS: TB-NYY -- Rays in 5
ALDS: CHW-MIN -- Twins in 4
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Padres in 5
NLDS: CHC-CIN -- Reds in 5
NLCS: SD-CIN -- Padres in 6
ALCS: TB-MIN -- Rays in 6
WS: TB-SD -- Rays in 6

The Rays have been the best team in the American League all season despite their low payroll, so it would be appropriate for Tampa Bay to knock off the big-spending Yankees en route to their first AL pennant since 2008. The Dodgers are the favorites in the NL, but there’s something about the Padres that will allow them to go toe-to-toe with Los Angeles in a best-of-five series. The winner of Dodgers-Padres is my choice to get to the World Series, though ultimately Kevin Cash’s Rays will emerge victorious, taking home the franchise’s first World Series trophy.

SARAH LANGS

ALWC winners: TB, CLE, OAK, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, CIN, CHC
ALDS: TB-CLE -- Rays in 5
ALDS: OAK-MIN -- Twins in 4
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: CIN-CHC -- Reds in 4
ALCS: TB-MIN -- Rays in 7
NLCS: LAD-CIN -- Dodgers in 5
WS: LAD-TB -- Dodgers in 7

Entering the year, I had the Dodgers and Yankees, and at the Trade Deadline I believe I recalibrated to anticipating the Dodgers and the Rays instead. These are the two best teams in the Majors. Is that always the World Series matchup? No ... but in a postseason that feels even more difficult to predict than normal, it’s hard to see the two most stacked teams not making it to the Fall Classic. The Dodgers have failed to win a World Series title in each of their last 13 postseason appearances entering 2020, the third-longest such streak in history. The Braves actually have a longer stretch right now at 15 straight, but it just seems like everything is pointed the Dodgers’ way this year. They had an average run differential of plus-2.3 per game, the third highest since 1903, the first year of the World Series. Each of the two teams ahead of them (1939 Yankees and 1927 Yankees) won it all -- and now it’s L.A.’s turn.

ANTHONY CASTROVINCE

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, CHW, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, MIA, CIN
ALDS: TB-NYY -- Yankees in 5
ALDS: CHW-MIN -- Twins in 4
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: MIA-CIN -- Reds in 4
NLCS: LAD-CIN -- Dodgers in 6
ALCS: NYY-MIN -- Yankees in 6
WS: LAD-NYY -- Dodgers in 7

After all the schedule changes, the Summer Camp, the 100-plus pages of health and safety protocols, the adjustments, the empty stands and the upset specials that dot the early rounds of this expanded postseason tournament, we will still somehow get the World Series matchup so many expected before 2020 went off the rails. And this time, the Dodgers get it done in the Fall Classic, with Clayton Kershaw, the pride of Dallas, pitching brilliantly in nearby Arlington. What a story!

WILL LEITCH

ALWC winners: TB, CLE, CWS, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, STL, CHC, ATL
ALDS: TB-CLE -- Indians in 4
ALDS: CWS-MIN -- Twins in 5
NLDS: LAD-STL -- Dodgers in 3
NLDS: CHC-ATL -- Braves in 4
ALCS: CLE-MIN -- Indians in 6
NLCS: LAD-ATL -- Dodgers in 5
WS: LAD-CLE -- Indians in 7

My general rule in NCAA Tournament brackets -- which, amazingly, is what this all looks like -- is to pick upsets early but go chalk late. Which is why I surprised myself by essentially doing the opposite here: I have two Wild Card Series upsets (the White Sox, who don’t really feel like an upset over the A’s, and the Cardinals, who get to face a team whose top two starters are either out or questionable because of injury), but otherwise I went with the higher seed. But when we went late, particularly in the World Series, I couldn’t do it. I want Clayton Kershaw to have his breakthrough, and the Dodgers to finally win that World Series they’ve been looking for since the year Kershaw was born, but there’s something about Cleveland, in this odd dog’s breakfast of a season, being the one that comes out on top. That rotation can throw with anyone, and it feels like a Francisco Lindor World Series: He’ll do something amazing to remind us why we thought we’d be talking about him all season … and surely won’t stop this offseason. The Indians are the sort of team that will finally win when no one expects them to. This is that “when.”

MIKE PETRIELLO

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, MIN, OAK
NLWC winners: SD, LAD, CIN, CHC
ALDS: TB-NYY -- Yankees in 5
ALDS: MIN-OAK -- Twins in 4
NLDS: LA-SD -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: CIN-CHC -- Reds in 5
NLCS: LA-CIN -- Dodgers in 5
ALCS: NYY-MIN -- Yankees in 7
WS: LAD-NYY -- Dodgers in 6

The Dodgers are baseball’s best team, just like they are most years, and they went 43-17 this season without even seeming like they were trying. Now with Mookie Betts and a sneaky good bullpen, this is the year they finally break their long-running title drought, and … wait … hold on … I just realized I’ve declared that the Twins are going to lose to the Yankees in the playoffs again. I am so sorry, Twins fans.

NATHALIE ALONSO

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, MIN, OAK
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, CIN, CHC
ALDS: NYY-TB -- Rays in 4
ALDS: MIN-OAK -- A’s in 5
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 5
NLDS: CIN-CHC -- Reds in 4
NLCS: LAD-CIN -- Dodgers in 6
ALCS: TB-OAK -- Rays in 7
WS: TB-LAD -- Dodgers in 6

While teams like the Marlins, Padres and White Sox made the abbreviated regular season a lot of fun with their surprising playoff runs, the Dodgers lived up to the expectations as the best team in baseball, cruising to a 43-17 record. With prized offseason acquisition Mookie Betts in tow, Los Angeles is poised to take home the crown after losing back-to-back World Series in ’17 and ’18. The deep and resourceful Tampa Bay Rays, who have long dwelled in the shadow of the Yankees and Red Sox in the American League East, will finally get the chance to shine on the national stage and give the Dodgers a run for their money.

ANDREW SIMON

ALWC winners: TB, CLE, CHW, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, CIN, MIA, SD
ALDS: TB-CLE -- Rays in 5
ALDS: CHW-MIN -- Twins in 4
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: CIN-MIA -- Reds in 3
NLCS: CIN-LAD -- Dodgers in 5
ALCS: TB-MIN -- Rays in 6
WS: LAD-TB -- Dodgers in 6

I picked Dodgers over Rays in the World Series before the season started, so why deviate after both teams finished as impressive No. 1 seeds? Maybe this strange, unprecedented year is the one when Clayton Kershaw and company -- now featuring Mookie Betts -- finally get the job done in October. With that said, we should expect some surprising outcomes along the way, to the extent that any result in a short series can be surprising. So I’ll go with a hunch that this Miami team has a little more magic in store and improves the franchise’s all-time postseason series record to 7-0 before finally hitting a wall.

JON PAUL MOROSI

ALWC winners: TOR, NYY, MIN, OAK
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, MIA, CIN
ALDS: NYY-TOR -- Yankees in 4
ALDS: MIN-OAK -- A’s in 5
NLDS: LAD-SD -- Dodgers in 5
NLDS: MIA-CIN -- Reds in 4
NLCS: LAD-CIN -- Dodgers in 7
ALCS: NYY-OAK -- Yankees in 6
WS: NYY-LAD -- Dodgers in 7

The Dodgers were my pick entering Spring Training, entering Summer Camp, before Opening Day, and thus it would be wildly inconsistent to change my position after watching them finish with the best winning percentage in franchise history. Am I nervous that I’ll be wrong anyway? Of course. My lousy record as a hardball soothsayer is a matter of public record. It’s also true that the Dodgers’ streak of division titles is the longest in history without producing a World Series title. Since they haven’t stopped winning the NL West, I presume they will eventually start winning championships. But I’ve been wrong before.

DAVID VENN

ALWC winners: TB, NYY, CWS, MIN
NLWC winners: LAD, SD, MIA, CIN
ALDS: NYY-TB -- Yankees in 5
ALDS: CWS-MIN -- Twins in 4
NLDS: SD-LAD -- Dodgers in 4
NLDS: CIN-MIA -- Reds in 3
NLCS: CIN-LAD -- Dodgers in 6
ALCS: NYY-MIN -- Yankees in 7
WS: NYY-LAD -- Dodgers in 6

The Yankees’ offense will kick into gear in October, with not only Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton healthy and hitting bombs, but also with Gary Sánchez finding a better groove and Luke Voit’s power continuing into the postseason. But the Dodgers’ pitching and overall depth, which will carry them to relatively easy series victories in the first two rounds and a well-fought triumph in the NLCS over the Reds, is too much for New York in the World Series. The Dodgers will celebrate their first championship since 1988.