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In this shortened season of just 60 games, it’s safe to say really anybody can make the playoffs. But in this modified schedule, teams that are presumed to struggle will likely aim for the 2021 first overall pick rather than the playoffs. And even for those teams still trying, there obviously are clubs that are head and shoulders above everyone else. Here is how those teams play in the 2020 postseason with full predictions and analysis for every round along with the MVP for each series.

Playoff Teams / Seeds:

American League Division Winners (best to worst): Yankees, Astros, Twins

Wild Cards: Rays, Athletics

National League Division Winners: Dodgers, Braves, Reds

Wild Cards: Mets, Nationals

Wild Card Round:

AL: Rays over Athletics 6-3: The Rays come out victorious in the wild card game over Oakland for the second straight year as Tampa’s depth is the deciding factor. While Oakland’s lineup is full of production, they won’t match Tampa’s bats against Sean Manaea, assuming the Rays start Charlie Morton or Blake Snell.

The game will be low scoring and close early but as the bullpens enter, the Rays ability to hit all the way down the lineup as well as have multiple quality options on the mound in the later innings will be the difference as Oakland loses the Wild Card Game for the 3rd consecutive season. MVP: Austin Meadows

NL: Mets over Nationals 2-0: This game might be the most epic pitcher’s duel in recent history. Assuming they’re healthy, there is no doubt we will see Jacob deGrom start for the Mets, and Max Scherzer going for the Nationals. Both of those guys are among the top 3 pitchers in baseball and have both had success in big games.

But obviously, teams have to score to win. With Washington being not nearly as deep in the lineup then New York, the Mets, in their home park, will find a big hit late off Washington’s subpar bullpen and advance to the NLDS as deGrom goes the distance. MVP: Jacob deGrom

Divisional Round:

Astros over Twins 3-2: Houston and Minneosta’s rosters are surprisingly very evenly matched. Their entire lineups can hit 1-9. They each have 2 starters (Verlander, Greinke & Berrios, Odorizzi) capable of dominating a game. Each have a shutdown closer and reliable set up guys in the bullpen. But the difference comes in championship experience.

This Astros team has been to the World Series twice in the last 3 years while winning it in 2017 (albeit they cheated) and has won in the pressure of the playoffs. The Twins only recent playoff runs in 2017 and ’19 have ended at the hands of the Yankees without even winning a game. Due to this, the Astros come up big when it matters and eliminate the Twins but Minnesota does make it a competitive 5 game series. MVP: George Springer

Yankees over Rays 3-2: This is the financial portrayal of David vs. Goliath. The division champion Yankees, with baseball’s highest payroll taking on the wild card Rays, who have the fourth lowest payroll in the league. Despite the massive gap in money, on the field, these two teams are equally talented. The Yankees have the best lineup in baseball as every guy 1-9 is a serious threat to get a hold of one.

Meanwhile, the Rays biggest strength comes on the mound with a three headed monster of a rotation and a top 5 bullpen in the league. While pitching usually wins out in the playoffs, Tampa lacks a true superstar hitter that strikes total fear into an opponent. New York, has multiple guys who can do just that in Judge, Torres, Stanton and Sanchez. Tampa’s pitching will keep them alive but will not get enough run support to topple the Yankees as the Bronx Bombers head to the ALCS for the 3rd time in 4 years. MVP: DJ Lemahieu

Reds over Braves 3-2: Cincinnati’s long awaited return to the playoffs starts out against the 3-time NL East champion Atlanta Braves. Each lineup can hit all the way down the order both for power and contact.Both have established bullpens that have the ability to consistently finish games off. But starting pitching is the difference in this series.

The Braves rotation is a bit of a concern as outside of Mike Soroka, no guy was consistently reliable last season which is a necessity in the playoffs. Cincinnati on the other hand, features a deadly trio in the rotation with an electric Luis Castillo as well as experienced playoff pitchers Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray. The Braves rotation is not as experienced as Cincinnati’s other than Soroka, who has pitched one playoff game and a 39 year old Cole Hamels.

Considering the Reds potent lineup, Atlanta’s not going to get by with just two reliable guys while Cincinnati has at least three. Each team will steal a game on the road while winning one at home but in Game 5, the Reds step up big time behind Trevor Bauer on the mound and eliminate the Braves as Atlanta is knocked out in the NLDS for the third straight year while Cincinnati’s sensational run continues to the NLCS. MVP: Trevor Bauer

Dodgers over Mets 3-1: The Dodgers, after last year’s shocking NLDS exit, have no intention of going out early again. And while the Mets aren’t an easy out, they won’t have nearly enough to upend the Dodgers. While both lineups are deep, two MVP’s (Bellinger and Betts) far outweigh a Rookie of The Year (Pete Alonso) and batting champion contender (Jeff McNeil). Although the Mets have the best pitcher in the game, Jacob deGrom won’t be able to pitch until at least game three.

Without him, the Dodgers will roll the Mets out of LA in the first two games easily behind the arms of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kerhsaw. While deGrom helps the Mets avoid a sweep with a game 3 win, the Dodgers know they can’t risk another do or die Game 5. And they prevent that by knocking out the Mets in 4 and returning to the NLCS while New York’s impressive season ends. MVP: Mookie Betts

League Championship Round:

Dodgers over Reds 4-1: This NLCS matchup, featuring two incredibly different teams, looks very intriguing. It features the team that was expected to be here in the Dodgers, and the team no one expected to be here in the Reds. LA enters this series having won the NL West the last 8 seasons and having reached the World Series twice since 2017.

The Reds have not even made the playoffs prior to this season since 2012, and haven’t even come close to the fall classic since 1990. These differences will translate into this series in terms of talent and experience. Much of the Reds roster has never even been on a competitive team let alone a postseason one. The Dodgers of course, have been to the playoffs and in this year feature tons of experience and talent throughout the roster.

The upstart Reds will not be able to stop LA’s run for their first championship in 2 decades. The Dodgers dominate in LA, steal game 3 and allow the Reds a consolidating win in game 4 before taking them out in game 5 as baseball’s most surprising team of 2020 bows out short of the World Series while the Dodgers win the pennant for the 3rd time in 4 years. MVP: Cody Bellinger

Yankees over Astros 4-2: This is the series every Yankee fan wants, and they’re going to get it. The Astros infamously orchestrated an elaborate scheme to steal signs from opposing catchers to give their hitters an unfair advantage throughout their championship run in 2017 in which they eliminated New York in the ALCS in 7 close games that year. The Yankees have not forgotten that as at least an American League pennant was stolen from them.

After last year’s crushing defeat in the ALCS to the same Astros, on a walkoff home run in game 6, New York is coming for Houston’s head this time around. The Yankees, who own home field advantage, take the first two games at home behind playoff performers Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. They are able to steal a game in Texas, which they proved they could do last season. And with two chances to end the series in the Bronx, the Yankees end it quick powered by their big bats and the dominant bullpen. The Bronx Bombers get their revenge on Houston and advance to their 1st World Series since 2009. MVP: Gleyber Torres

World Series:

Dodgers over Yankees 4-2: If it weren’t for the Astros, this would’ve been the matchup in the 2017 World Series. But the three year delay only makes this series more entertaining. In those 3 years, each side has added a Cy Young caliber ace in Walker Buehler and Gerrit Cole, a former MVP in Mookie Betts and Giancarlo Stanton, exciting young prospects Gavin Lux and Gleyber Torres and new all stars in Max Muncy and DJ Lemahieu.

These new players added to those left from 2017 including Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw, Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman and more, make these teams very equal on paper. But here’s the difference in this series: these Dodgers have been to the World Series. Most of these Yankees have not.

This experience factor will play a role early on as the Dodgers take the first two games at home behind the arms of Buehler and Kershaw. The Yankees hold down home field thanks to their bats but not after the Dodgers win a crucial game 5 as Buehler dominates again. And with the chance to finish it at home, the Dodgers, through timely hitting and clutch pitching, finally take the final step, finishing off the Yankees in six and win their 7th franchise championship and their first since 1988. World Series MVP: Walker Buehler

Photo: HowTheyPlay