Who’s going to the World Series? Our LCS predictions

Sports

The 2021 MLB playoffs are down to four teams after the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced in a thrilling Game 5 on Thursday night.

Now that the Dodgers-Atlanta Braves and Boston Red SoxHouston Astros matchups are set, it’s time for some predictions. We asked our MLB experts to weigh in on who will move on to the World Series, which players will earn LCS MVP honors, the themes we’ll all be taking about in the next week and explain why their initial MLB postseason predictions are still in play — or went very wrong.

Jump to …

ALCS | NLCS | Predictions we’re right about — so far | Picks gone wrong


American League Championship Series

Houston Astros (8 votes), Boston Red Sox (5)

Tristan Cockcroft: Red Sox in 6

MVP: Rafael Devers

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Lance McCullers Jr.’s absence, bringing the Astros’ pitching staff closer to the talent level of the Red Sox.

Bradford Doolittle: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The still-relevant art of hitting for contact.

Doug Glanville: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Alex Cora and Dusty Baker getting ejected in Game 3 for using too many psychological tactics.

Alden Gonzalez: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The emergence of Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez, and what that means about the Astros’ sustainability.

Eric Karabell: Astros in 6

MVP: Jose Altuve

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Redemption for Altuve, not that he needed it. And how good this Astros offense is.

Tim Keown: Astros in 6

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Everyone will be talking about the obvious — Alex Cora facing the Astros — but in the end the story will be Dusty Baker navigating an iffy pitching staff (made iffier by the Lance McCullers’ injury) to the World Series.

Tim Kurkjian: Astros in 7

MVP: Carlos Correa

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Dusty Baker going back to the World Series, improving his solid chances of going to the Hall of Fame.

Joon Lee: Red Sox in 6

MVP: Kyle Schwarber

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Everything falling into place for the Red Sox while Houston deals with an injury of one of its most important pitchers of the moment, Lance McCullers.

Kiley McDaniel: Red Sox in 7

MVP: Xander Bogaerts

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Maybe former Rays execs should get hired more often than former Cleveland execs.

Buster Olney: Red Sox in 7

MVP: Rafael Devers

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: We’ll be talking about how we can’t figure out how and why the Red Sox found enough pitching to reach the World Series.

Jeff Passan: Astros in 7

MVP: Kyle Tucker

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Houston’s contact-oriented offense is a beast for even the most strikeout-happy pitching staff, and the Green Monster is going to be peppered consistently by an Astros team whose bats have already carried them this far.

Jesse Rogers: Red Sox in 6

MVP: Rafael Devers

The one thing we’ll be talking about: The Red Sox offense has become an unstoppable force and will hit its way to the World Series against a young starting staff of Houston with an ailing Lance McCullers Jr.

David Schoenfield: Astros in 7

MVP: Carlos Correa

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: It seems likely that Alex Cora will again use his starters in relief, as he did against the Rays and as he did in 2018. Will the strategy work to contain the high-powered Houston offense?


National League Championship Series

Los Angeles Dodgers (11 votes), Atlanta Braves (2)

Cockcroft: Dodgers in 4

MVP: Mookie Betts

The one thing we’ll all be talking about during this series: Boy, that was quick and anticlimactic, wasn’t it?

Doolittle: Dodgers in 6

MVP: Will Smith (Dodgers version)

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Starting pitching.

Glanville: Dodgers in 7

MVP: Trea Turner

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Freddie Freeman is a good dude so we feel bad he didn’t make it to the World Series.

Gonzalez: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Trea Turner

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Cody Bellinger finding his stroke, morphing back into the player he has been before.

Karabell: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Trea Turner

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Just how great the Turner-Gavin Lux double-play combo will be next season.

Keown: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Trea Turner

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: How the Dodgers ensured a return to the World Series on July 29, when they managed to fill a need on their pitching staff by adding Max Scherzer, and also acquired one of the game’s most dynamic talents in Trea Turner.

Tim Kurkjian: Dodgers in 7

MVP: Mookie Betts

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Star power from the Dodgers shows the way.

Joon Lee: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Mookie Betts

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The addition of Max Scherzer changed the trajectory of the Dodgers’ season.

McDaniel: Dodgers in 6

MVP: Scherzer

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Winning 106 games and having to play two elimination games before the NLCS is a bad system.

Olney: Braves in 7

MVP: Freddie Freeman

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Max Fried‘s curveball and how it’s evolved from good to maybe the best curveball in baseball.

Passan: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Mookie Betts

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: After their epic division series against the Giants, the Dodgers find a far more tolerable opponent in Atlanta. And what will be most apparent is the difference between their bullpens. The Dodgers’ helped win them the division series. Atlanta’s remains conflagrant.

Rogers: Braves in 7

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Atlanta’s pitching staff doesn’t boast Cy Young candidates this season but somehow it’s gotten them this far. Max Fried saved his best for the end of the season. He, Morton and their teammates will shut down the vaunted Dodgers offense. Atlanta pitching will once again be the talk of baseball.

Schoenfield: Dodgers in 5

MVP: Max Scherzer

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The Atlanta rotation has a chance to be sneaky good. If Max Fried, who pitched six scoreless innings in his NLDS start, can throw a gem in Game 1, the Braves have a chance for the upset.


World Series predictions we’re right about — so far

Doolittle: Dodgers over Astros. Teams that have offenses best balanced between power and contact have done well.

Gonzalez: Dodgers over Astros. I had the Brewers and the Rays advancing into their respective Championship Series and I thought they were the two teams who might give the Dodgers or Giants the most trouble moving forward, solidifying the fact that the Dodgers are the best team remaining by a pretty wide margin.

Keown: Astros over Giants. I picked the Astros to win it all, despite their weak starting pitching, and that prediction hangs by a thread with McCullers presumably out. It took some weirdness for the Rays — my choice in the ALDS — to be sent home. The Dodgers-Giants was always a hunch pick, and my hunch was the Giants, knowing it was probably foolish to bet against the Dodgers. And, as it turns out, it was.

Kurkjian: Dodgers over Rays. I still have the Dodgers in play here. As for the Rays? Baseball is the best game. It is too good to be predicted.

McDaniel: Dodgers over Rays. I should’ve shifted some of my Rays confidence to the Red Sox, but otherwise things have gone about as I expected, including a classic between SFG and LAD.


World Series predictions gone wrong

Cockcroft: Rays over Brewers. Yeah, well, Rays-Brewers, that didn’t go so well. I know a lot of people will talk about the pitching, but I can’t really overlook how key members of the lineup like Brandon Lowe and Christian Yelich had really miserable series. That was a BIG hindrance for both teams.

Glanville: Rays over Giants. Thought the Rays would be around. Really good team. Red Sox are what went wrong. They have a lot of soul. Can’t predict soul.

Karabell: Rays over Giants. I thought the Rays would roll through but underestimated how risky it is when young pitching struggles.

Lee: I chose the Rays to win the World Series because of their depth as a team and my belief in their lockdown bullpen. While that depth played a role in the ALDS, the Red Sox ultimately bested them because their bullpen performed exceedingly well despite some excruciating circumstances — specifically Chris Sale‘s poor start in Game 2 — and the Boston offense ultimately overpowered Tampa Bay’s pitching staff.

Rogers: Yankees over Cardinals. When you pick two wild-card teams to make it to the World Series, you’re playing with fire but I simply picked the wrong one in the AL. Boston will do what the Yankees were supposed to do when 2021 began.

Schoenfield: Brewers over Astros. I had the Cardinals upsetting the Dodgers in the wild-card game, which I then thought would open the door for the pitching-rich Brewers to sneak through and into the World Series. Apparently you still have to score runs to keep advancing, however, so the Brewers remain in search of their first World Series title. The Astros were my AL pick, but let’s see if Lance McCullers Jr. is can pitch at all the rest of the way after leaving his last start with forearm tightness.

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