The potential postseason matchups, ranked

September 15th, 2020

We are now less than two weeks away from the MLB postseason, and you can see our updated postseason picture on the site every day. But it’s even more fun to play with those matchups. So today we rank all eight of those potential matchups. Which one would be the most fun to watch? Which would have the most historical significance? Here’s one man’s ranking of the most exciting matchups, 1-8. (But they’d all be great.)

1) Rays (American League No. 2) vs. Yankees (No. 7)

Well, we will find out if the AL East revisionists are right: We’ll find out if this is truly the new rivalry in the division. The Yankees -- who get the No. 7 seed today only because they have a better divisional record than Cleveland does -- face a team, like many in the division, they have long tormented. The Rays’ reward for their first division title since 2010 is a matchup with a Yankees team that would presumably be -- or at least New York desperately hope so -- a lot healthier than it is right now.

2) Dodgers (National League No. 1) vs. Giants (NL No. 8)

One of the three best rivalries in baseball -- alongside Yankees-Red Sox and Cubs-Cardinals -- ends up having all sorts of historical implications in the new NL Wild Card round. This very well might be one of the best Dodgers teams of all time, but that doesn’t mean much in a best-of-three series against an upstart team who is arriving to the postseason dance considerably earlier than anyone expected. The Dodgers have been better for the past decade, on the whole, than the Giants, but the Giants are the ones with the three World Series titles. Imagine if the best Dodgers team of this era goes down in the first round to a Giants team that was supposed to be rebuilding.

3) A’s (AL No. 3) vs. Astros (AL No. 6)

The A's have been stuck behind the Astros for the entirety of the Houston resurgence, and the year they finally pass them and win the division (for the first time since 2013) … they end up playing them in the first round anyway. Houston looks much, much weaker than usual -- it’s bizarre to see that team under .500 -- but the Astros are still the Astros. And the A’s are down their best player, star third baseman Matt Chapman (hip surgery). It would be absolutely heartbreaking for Oakland to have the season it is having and still lose to Houston in the first round.

4) Braves (NL No. 3) vs. Cardinals (NL No. 6)

The Cardinals just beat the Braves in the NL Division Series last year in a series that Braves fans were certain they were going to win until a 10-run first inning in Game 5, and there isn’t a Braves fan alive who doesn’t grumble under their breath every time the infield fly rule is called after the 2012 Wild Card game. Losing to the Cardinals again might make them spontaneously combust.

5) White Sox (AL No. 1) vs. Indians (AL No. 8)

The White Sox have stunned baseball with their massive step forward this year; they’ve got the best record in the AL and the second-best record in baseball. (They currently have a .660 winning percentage that would be the best in White Sox history for a season.) But they still have to play a division rival in the first round, one that has caused them all sorts of trouble in the past, and one that still feels like the rock you have to move out of the way in this division. And one that, all told, isn’t entirely removed from the possibility of catching up with the White Sox before the season ends.

6 ) Cubs (NL No. 2) vs. Phillies (NL No. 7)

The Cubs decided to mostly roll out their championship team back out there for one last run, and it has proved wildly successful: David Ross has the team with positive vibes again for the first time in a couple of years. The Phillies have gone through a long rebuilding process, longer than anyone planned on, to get back to the postseason. But is it enough for them just to get back to the postseason? Also, can we call this the Ryne Sandberg series?

7) Twins (AL No. 4) vs. Blue Jays (AL No. 5)

First off, let’s not dismiss the possibility that the Yankees, currently only a half-game behind the Blue Jays in the AL East, end up with the No. 5 seed, pitting them against … ugh, Minnesota again. (That would be the fifth consecutive series for the Twins, and seventh of their last eight, that they have faced the Yankees. They’ve all been losses.) The Twins have to grateful to get the upstart Blue Jays instead. These teams did play in the 1991 ALCS, by the way, and the Twins won en route to their most recent World Series title.

8) Padres (NL No. 4) vs. Marlins (NL No. 5)

Without question the “happy-to-be-here” series, these are the two teams in the NL with the longest postseason droughts. But that’s just historically speaking. In practical terms, these are two of the youngest, most exciting teams in the game, with players far too young to remember any of that ugly history. Fernando Tatis Jr. was four when the Marlins were last in the playoffs. Mock them all you want. These teams have earned their spots here, and then some.