Every postseason scenario has some story, some stat, some situation or stipulation that makes it special. Not every October matchup has to be as compelling as what we experienced last year -- when the teams with the two longest championship droughts opposed each other in the World Series -- though
Every postseason scenario has some story, some stat, some situation or stipulation that makes it special. Not every October matchup has to be as compelling as what we experienced last year -- when the teams with the two longest championship droughts opposed each other in the World Series -- though sometimes a little history helps.
With 10 teams playing four rounds, there are 45 possible October outlines ahead. Here, we lay out each one and pick at least one reason why it would be undeniable baseball theater and note when it could happen. And to help differentiate the scenarios, we broke them down into three categories: Dueling Droughts, Rousing Rematches and Simply Satisfying Storylines.
• Postseason gear: LAD | CLE | HOU | WSH | BOS | CHC | ARI | NYY | COL | MIN
These are teams that have gone at least 25 years without a title or have never won a title in franchise history.
Astros vs. Nationals (World Series)
or Astros vs. Rockies (WS)
Beyond any player plotlines, there's this fun fact: Either of these scenarios would mark just the second time since 1920 that the World Series featured two franchises with zero World Series wins between them. The other was Phillies-Royals in 1980. Note that this doesn't include Series involving franchises that had moved and not yet won in their new city (such as when the San Francisco Giants faced the Rangers in 2010). All other instances in which this occurred were in the first decade in which the World Series was played.
Video: HOU@BOS: Hinch talks maybe facing Red Sox in playoffs
Indians vs. Dodgers (WS)
Two best records in the game, plus Terry Francona trying to end an epic drought in Cleveland against Dave Roberts -- whose huge stolen base in 2004 helped Francona end the epic drought in Boston.
Nationals vs. Twins (WS)
A matter of Senator-ial courtesy.
Indians vs. Astros (American League Championship Series)
These clubs carry the game's best strikeout rates on both sides of the ball. The Astros scored the most runs per game in MLB in the 2017 regular season, while the Indians allowed the fewest. Strength vs. strength.
Dodgers vs. Nationals (National League Championship Series)
We'll never say no to Clayton Kershaw vs. Max Scherzer. It took Kershaw in an epic relief stint for the Dodgers to nail down a hard-fought, five-game NL Division Series between these two clubs last year.
Indians vs. Nationals (WS)
Something to chew on: Dusty Baker's toothpicks vs. Tito's bubblegum. And two particularly stellar starting staffs, and two of the brightest young stars in the game in Bryce Harper and Francisco Lindor.
Indians vs. Twins (AL Division Series)
Derek Falvey's behind-the-scenes role preparing data that aided the Tribe pitching staff in 2016 earned him the chief baseball officer job with the Twins, where his input could prove valuable again if Minnesota escapes the AL Wild Card round.
Astros vs. Dodgers (WS)
The Astros went after Justin Verlander, the Dodgers went after Yu Darvish. Whoever "won" the trade market just might win this year's championship.
Indians vs. Rockies (WS)
We seemed headed to this World Series 10 years ago, when the Indians were up 3-1 on the Red Sox in the ALCS and the Rox were sitting around waiting to find out their opponent. Better late than never.
Nationals vs. Rockies (NLCS)
Bud Black was the Nats' man … until the two sides couldn't agree on a contract. Then Baker became their man. Now Black is the Rockies' man. You got all that?
Video: LAD@COL: Black talks about reaching postseason
Astros vs. Twins (ALCS)
The Jason Castro Cup? You'd also have Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton -- the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the 2012 Draft -- pitted against each other.
Twins vs. Rockies (WS)
We've seen Wild Card clubs oppose each other in the World Series, but we've never seen second Wild Card clubs oppose each other in the World Series. To say this Series would have been unexpected in April -- or even now -- is an understatement.
Dodgers vs. Rockies (NL Division Series)
In September, the Rox had their first four-game sweep in Dodger Stadium since their inaugural year in 1993, so you wouldn't have to listen to the home/road splits talk that usually surrounds that franchise.
Dodgers vs. Twins (WS)
They couldn't work out a James Dozier trade last offseason. Perhaps they'll just duke it out in the Fall Classic instead.
Indians vs. Cubs (WS)
This would be first World Series rematch since Yankees-Dodgers in 1977-78. If it's even half as good as last year's seven-game struggle, we'd be in for a treat.
Dodgers vs. Yankees (WS)
This would be the record 12th World Series meeting of these two iconic teams, but the first since 1981 -- long before Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger were born.
Video: Duquette on rookies who may impact the postseason
Red Sox vs. Yankees (ALCS)
Their last two postseason meetings (2003 and '04 ALCS) were extremely epic, and this one would, to play off some recent back-and-forth from Brian Cashman and Dave Dombrowski, determine once and for all which one is baseball's answer to the Golden State Warriors. You've got to (smart) watch that.
Indians vs. Red Sox (ALCS)
A rematch not just of last year's ALDS, but an epic seven-game ALCS exactly a decade ago when the Red Sox came back from a deficit en route to a World Series crown -- this time with Francona in the Tribe dugout. Oh, and Corey Kluber vs. Chris Sale (the AL Cy Young Award showdown) would be OK, too.
Yankees vs. D-backs (WS)
Luis Gonzalez and Mr. November are long gone, but we can think of about 2,001 reasons why these two particular teams might be capable of a compelling Fall Classic.
Dodgers vs. Cubs (NLCS)
L.A. would be looking to avenge last year's loss on this same stage.
Yankees vs. Twins (Wild Card)
"David vs. Goliath" is easily the most tired of sports storyline clichés. But the Yankees have beaten the Twins an incredible 89 times in the last 122 tries, including four postseason rounds in the 2000s. So bring on the cliché.
Video: MIN@CLE: Mauer on clinching a Wild Card spot
Indians vs. Yankees (ALDS)
This would appropriately mark the 10-year anniversary of the 2007 ALDS. Would the midges (and Joba Chamberlain) make an appearance for old time's sake?
Red Sox vs. Rockies (WS)
Could they meet again, 10 years later, with Dustin Pedroia the only player holdover from either team?
Astros vs. Yankees (ALCS)
A rematch of the 2015 Wild Card Game would also potentially provide us with another awesome photo of Judge and Jose Altuve standing next to each other.
Simply Satisfying Storylines
Red Sox vs. Dodgers (WS)
Of course you'd have Roberts vs. the Red Sox, but you'd also have Magic Johnson vs. a Boston team, which has to count for something. It's been 101 years (too long to really label it a "rematch") since these two storied franchises met in the World Series (Boston took that one from Brooklyn, thanks in part to some great pitching from Babe Ruth).
Cubs vs. Yankees (WS)
Joe Girardi has the Cubs in his blood and possibly could have managed there in 2014 if he had pursued the job. (Would he, and not Joe Maddon, have buried the billy goat?) These two last met in the World Series in the 1930s -- again, too long to be a true rematch. And they last met -- period -- in a Sunday night game in May that took 18 innings to complete.
Video: The Dugout discusses the Yanks' bullpen in postseason
Indians vs. D-backs (WS)
Trevor Bauer's revenge?
Nationals vs. D-backs (NLCS)
Dodgers vs. D-backs (NLDS)
Zack Greinke's revenge?
Red Sox vs. D-backs (WS)
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen oppose the team whose success made them attractive to Arizona in the first place.
Astros vs. Red Sox (ALDS)
Verlander vs. Sale -- and two teams who just closed out the regular season with a four-game set against each other and thereby know each other intimately.
Astros vs. Cubs (WS)
The Astros have matched the Cubs' model of sinking in the standings for a long stretch, collecting Draft picks and then splurging when the time is right in every step but the biggest -- winning it all.
Astros vs. D-backs (WS)
The D-backs had A.J. Hinch before it was cool. The Astros had J.D. Martinez before it was cool. Bonus: No Game 7 rain delays like last year.
Cubs vs. D-backs (NLCS)
Probably the only postseason series where we'd root for rain, if only to get another dance-off.
Cubs vs. Rockies (NLCS)
Mike Scioscia's former bench coach (Maddon) opposes his former pitching coach (Black). An Angel-ic affray.
Red Sox vs. Nationals (WS)
Dombrowski and Mike Rizzo are two baseball operations heads with the souls of scouts and two of the game's greatest traders (Rizzo tried hard to get Sale, but Dombrowski reeled him in). It would be fun to see their work put against each other.
Cubs vs. Nationals (NLDS)
The Cubs gave a 2016 World Series ring to Steve Bartman, but of course not to Baker, who you know would love to win big at Wrigley -- a place where he still hears the boo birds.
Video: Rogers breaks down Cubs vs. Nats in the NLDS
Nationals vs. Yankees (WS)
It would be a lot more fun actually watching Harper play at Yankee Stadium in the World Series in lieu of reading speculation about whether he might end up playing there after 2018.
Red Sox vs. Twins (ALCS)
The Twins would be playing free and easy, comfortable in the knowledge that David Ortiz won't be around to torture them yet again (unless he throws out a ceremonial first pitch, in which case all bets are off).
D-backs vs. Twins (WS)
Ron Gardenhire (D-backs bench coach) returns to Minnesota wearing another team's windbreaker.
D-backs vs. Rockies (Wild Card)
We have been waiting for years for Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado to be on contending clubs, and we have been waiting for months for this inevitable October showdown.
Cubs vs. Twins (WS)
The club that won 103 games last year faces the club that lost 103 games last year.
Yankees vs. Rockies (WS)
If you don't want to see Judge in Coors Field, your baseball fan card is hereby revoked.
Red Sox vs. Cubs (WS)
Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Theo Epstein, Jonathan Lester and John Lackey vs. the Red Sox. Maddon and David Price providing ex-Ray vision. Former South Side mates Sale and Jose Quintana on opposite sides. This matchup wouldn't carry as much angst as it would have in 2003, when it seemed the two clubs were on a collision course with their respective curses still intact. But it still packs a punch.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.