Bryce Harper stares down Orlando Arcia of the Atlanta Braves after hitting a home run amidst off-field drama.
Wild Card Round:
Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Al Central Champions Minnesota Twins (87-75) took two decisive wins over the Toronto Blue Jays in the three game wild card series, winning both games by the scores of 3-1 and 2-0 in games one and two respectively. The Twins, led by merciless pitching from their starters Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray, as well as their closer Jhoan Duran, were able to keep an explosive Blue Jay offense to just one run in two games, which ended up propelling them to a series victory and onto the next round.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Texas Rangers, champion of the AL West with 90 wins in the regular season, swept the Tampa Bay Rays with two big wins in the wild card round. After shutting out the Rays 4-0 in game one with a stellar outing from starter Jordan Montgomery, Texas brought home seven runs in game two with outstanding offensive performances from superstar Corey Seager and cleanup hitter Adolis Garcia. Texas’ deep starting rotation and depth down their lineup convincingly propelled them into the 2nd round and will make them a tough out in the 2023 MLB Playoffs.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Led by rookie sensation Corbin Carroll, the Arizona Diamondbacks swept the Brewers in two close games by the scores of 6-3 and 5-2 in games one and two respectively; this was despite being a team that hasn’t been to the postseason for the past six seasons. Carroll led the Arizona offense, going 4-7 as the leadoff hitter in the series, while the timely pitching from starter Zac Gallen helped hold a talented Milwaukee roster from scoring lots of runs.
Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Who would’ve thought that the Marlins would be playing October baseball? The team that finished second to last in their division last season with just 69 wins found themselves staring at their first Postseason Game in ages; but matched up against what could quite possibly be the 2023 MLB Champions in the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies held the Marlins to just two runs across two games with unbelievable pitching performances from Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola, while the offense tore apart the Miami pitching staff as Trea Turner went 4-7 in the series. All the while, Bryce Harper showcased his superstar capabilities that got him named MVP in both the 2015 and 2021 MLB seasons.
Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins
The 2nd seeded Astros played their first series in the ALDS and decisively swept the Twins in a seven game series. After holding the Minnesota Twins to just nine runs in four games while scoring 24 themselves, it was clear that Houston’s powerful offense led by superstars Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve was too much to handle for the Twins' pitching staff. Astros ace Justin Verlander and standout starter Christian Javier both dominated on the mound and helped the Astros move onto the ALCS.
Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles
It’s been a long time since we have seen playoff baseball in the Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. After an outstanding season filled with 101 wins and an AL East Division Champion, the Orioles got sent home without a win by the Texas Rangers after giving up 21 total runs in just three games. The Baltimore pitching staff, which had been solid throughout the entire regular season, crumpled at the hands of Texas hitters who hit five home runs in the series. Texas, a team that has yet to lose in the playoffs, moves onto the ALCS round with loads of momentum.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Traditionally known as a team that makes the playoffs every year and wins lots of games, the Dodgers didn’t really meet the standard of playoff success this season. Though they were the second seed in the NL, the Arizona Diamondbacks stunned Hollywood by putting up 19 total runs in the series and sweeping one of the largest team payrolls in the league in just three games. Corbin Carroll again proved too much to handle as his explosive rookie season continued. Despite the Dodgers offense being led by the big-name superstars of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Max Muncy, the team had no answer to the Diamondback’s dominance.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
A series marred with ejections and off-field drama, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves three games to one in the NLCS with offensive breakouts. Bryce Harper hit just under .500 with 3 home runs in the four games of the series, while Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos both used their powerful bats to drive in a total of 20 runs for the Phillies. There was a seriously talented offensive team in Atlanta, but they just couldn’t quite get runs across the board when it mattered most.
Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Losing the first two home games of the series, the Astros find themselves in a big hole as they look to seize a must-win game three, or else things may spiral out of control. After getting shut out by Jordan Montgomery in game one, the Astros lost a tough game two 5-4 after another outstanding pitching performance by Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi. Alvarez and Altuve have cooled off from their stellar offensive outputs we saw in the ALDS, and the biggest question is, can the Astros regain their offensive spark that has helped them win throughout the 2023 regular season and important October playoff games in the past?
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Both the Diamondbacks and Phillies have lost just one game in the entire 2023 Postseason, with Arizona’s first loss coming in game one of the NLCS. Philadelphia’s superstars in Harper, Schwarber, and Castellanos raked as they led one of the hottest offenses in postseason history to a 5-3 win behind the phenomenal performance of Zach Wheeler on the mound. It is too early to count the Diamondbacks out, but it is clear that they must find an answer to this red hot Phillies offense or they will travel back to Arizona down 2-0 in the series and in danger of going down 3-0.