World Series contenders emerge

Tyler's Talk Time Vol. 1: Sports editor makes predictions as season winds down

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World Series contenders emerge

Photo of Dodger Stadium in a game against the Colorado Rockies.

Photo of Dodger Stadium in a game against the Colorado Rockies.

Ken Luker

Photo of Dodger Stadium in a game against the Colorado Rockies.

Ken Luker

Ken Luker

Photo of Dodger Stadium in a game against the Colorado Rockies.

Tyler Luker, Co-Editor and Sports Editor

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     With the MLB season winding down, there seems to be only a couple teams left that really have a shot of coming away with a championship this season.

     Teams like the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees are clearly head and shoulders above their competition, despite there being some teams like the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays that are close in the standings.

     What makes these three teams better than the rest is their depth and their amount of money they can hand out. Smaller markets like Atlanta, Minneapolis and Tampa also stand no chance against three of the biggest cities in the United States.

     The most complete team out of the three is the Houston Astros because they do not have a glaring weakness. Their starting pitching is impeccable with the four-headed monster of a rebirthed Justin Verlander, strikeout machine Gerrit Cole, deadline acquisition Zack Greinke and southpaw Wade Miley punching out opposing batters left and right.

     The hitting core for the Astros is tremendous as well. The Astros get on base more than anyone in the league, they strike out less than everyone and their 79.2 percent contact rate leads all of MLB. Notable hitters include all-star third-baseman Alex Bregman, former World Series MVP George Springer, Michael Brantley, rookie sensation Yordan Álvarez, franchise face José Altuve and the power-hitting Yuli Gurriel. For the Astros to make it back to the World Series and win it, all they need to do is keep playing the way they have been all year.

     After suffering two straight World Series losses, the Los Angeles Dodgers have not skipped a beat. Similar to the Astros, the Dodgers’ best quality is their starting pitching. The Dodgers hold the best team earned run average with 3.42, and their rotation is headlined by breakout star and Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu, young stud Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, one of the greatest pitchers to ever step foot on the rubber. The offense has been much better this season than in years past, with the team among the league’s best in walks, having the most home runs ever for a National League team and holding the best on-base plus slugging percentage in the National League with .807. 

     The players leading the Dodgers’ offensive charge is MVP contender Cody Bellinger, clutch-hitting Justin Turner, power hitting Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. Another feather in the Dodgers’ cap this year has been the show rookies like Alex Verdugo, Will Smith, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Matt Beaty have put on. None of them are rookie of the year candidates, but they have all played a role in helping win ball games for the Dodgers. 

     The flaw that has been weighing the Dodgers down all year has been the lack of a shutdown bullpen later on in the game. In the past they could have relied on closer Kenley Jansen, but he has had a disappointing year, currently sitting at seven blown saves, which is tied for a career high. The Dodgers are still trying to figure out who can and cannot pitch in the 7-9 innings, and if they do not fix that issue, they can kiss their chances of ending their 31 year championship drought goodbye.

     Out of the three teams leading the MLB standings, no one has overcome more obstacles than the New York Yankees. The Yankees have the most injured list stints in one season ever. Ace Luis Severino finally made his season debut on Sept. 17, Giancarlo Stanton has not even played in 15 games and last year’s rookie of the year runner-up Miguel Andujar is out for the year. 

     Despite all the injuries, they have somehow maintained one of the best records in the league due to players like Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman and Luke Voit filling the void left by injuries to star players. Their strength lies in the bullpen led by flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, sinkerballer Zack Britton and slider specialist Adam Ottavino. 

     When facing the Yankees, the game is shortened from nine innings to six innings because the level of dominance the back of their bullpen has. The Yankees do have some glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball though. Their team is built around power, which normally doesn’t work out in the playoffs when your power hitters inevitably get cold and to say their starting pitching has been bad is an understatement. 

     Every pitcher in their rotation has an earned run average above four except for James Paxton. If the Yankees starting pitching doesn’t pick up, championship number 28 won’t be coming to the Bronx.

     Anything can happen in baseball, but expect to see one or more of these juggernauts playing in the Fall Classic come October.

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