American League Division Series: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Both sides here are ridiculously talented. The Blue Jays' lineup is stacked: Bautista, reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Edwin Encarnacion are all legitimate threats at the plate, and this team scores runs with the best of them. They're talented pitching-wise as well, with 20-game winner J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, and Marcus Stroman rounding out a very talented starting rotation. However, the Rangers match up very well, with Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, and Ian Desmond heading up a very talented lineup. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish team up to provide one of the most talented 1-2 starting punches in baseball. Beyond Hamels and Darvish, the rotation is a little weak, but the lineup is good enough to get them back in the games.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the series, I think the Rangers will exact revenge in this series. The tensions will be high and I think the series will end up going all five games, but the Rangers' home field advantage will prove to be the difference maker.
Rangers win series, 3-2.
American League Division Series: Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
The Sox have one of the most talented lineups in baseball. The names up and down the lineup are ridiculous: Mookie Betts (who has a good chance at winning league MVP), David Ortiz (who's having the best retirement tour of all time), Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, rookie phenom Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez. It's like an all-star team, except instead of a fan vote, they were all hand-picked by Theo Epstein before he went to Chicago. Their pitching is solid too: Rick Porcello has been a pleasant surprise for Boston fans this year, David Price has been solid (although he has a history of struggling in the playoffs), knuckleballer Steven Wright has turned heads, and Craig Kimbrel is lights-out as the closer. Simply put, this team is stacked.
On the Indians' side, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are solid contact hitters. Jason Kipnis is a good middle-of-the-order hitter, and Carlos Satana and Mike Napoli provide power to round out a solid lineup. Corey Kubler is an ace, and Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin are both above-average starters. The question is whether or not this pitching staff can hold the Red Sox's lineup in check.
In the end, I think Boston's lineup will prove to be too much for the Indians' pitching staff. They'll drop Price's start because he's the opposite of Madison Bumgarner and flounders every year in the playoffs, but they'll wrap this one up in four games.
Red Sox win series, 3-1.
National League Division Series: Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants
Theo Epstein built the Cubs up from a perennial cellar dweller into a well-oiled machine that won 104 games this season. The Cubs now boast one of the scariest lineups in all of baseball: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, Ben Zobrist, and Javier Baez all immediately come to mind. The starting rotation is also one of the MLB's best: Kyle Hendricks has been a surprise with a 2.13 ERA, Jon Lester and John Lackey typically perform well in the postseason, and Jake Arietta is Jake Arietta. Throw in Aroldis Chapman throwing 100+ MPH heat while closing out games, and the Cubs are a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, it's an even year, so the Giants are set for a run. Madison Bumgarner is probably the most prolific postseason pitchers of all time. Some would say Mariano Rivera, but Bumgarner has gone on a run that no pitcher ever before has ever gone on. The bullpen has struggled mightily all season, blowing almost 30 games (!!!) during the regular season. They also boast above-average starters in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, and have decent bats in their lineup that include Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan. There's something about these bastards that makes them turn it up every even-year October, so I would be very scared if I were the Cubs.
However, these Cubs are just too talented to lose this series. Bumgarner wins his starts, but the Cub bats force San Fran to go to the bullpen early and they capitalize from there. Cubs in 5.
Cubs win the series, 3-2.
National League Division Series: Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Both teams have a reputation for struggling in the playoffs. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is the best regular-season pitchers in baseball, but has struggled mightily in his postseason appearances, posting a 2-6 record with a 4.59 ERA. On the other side of the coin, there is the Nationals, who have never made it to the NLCS in their franchise's history. The Dodger lineup includes Utley, rookie sensation Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Howie Kendrick, while the Nationals boast Harper, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, and that's pretty much it talent-wise. They've really ridden those three and a talented starting pitching rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Tanner Roarke to a division championship.
I think the Nationals pitching will prove to be too much for the Dodgers to handle. Murphy will provide more postseason heroics just like he did last year and Kershaw will continue his postseason struggles. Utley can will this series to a fifth game, but in the end, those losers in Washington will see one of their teams go to a championship series for the first time in 40-plus years.