Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians
Both teams participating in the Championship Series have defied all odds in the Division Series to come within four victories of the World Series. The Blue Jays relied on an unstoppable offense and a consistent rotation to sweep the Rangers; Toronto and Texas were the best teams in the A.L. during the regular season. The Indians finished off the Red Sox behind timely hitting and a masterful skipper who used the bullpen to perfection. Still not at full strength, the ailing Tribes’ starting rotation can look only to contain the Blue Jays’ offense like it did against the Red Sox. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are hoping their relentless offense didn’t use up their home run quota in the ALDS. It’s easy to pick the Blue Jays to move on in this series, but the Indians swept a strong World Series favorite last time they were the underdogs.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
The N.L. Division Series turned out to be a lot more exciting than its counterpart in the A.L. The World Series favorite since day one, the Cubs ended the Giants’ even-year magic despite being down big late in several games. The Dodgers rallied behind ace Kershaw, who seems to have gotten past his playoff woes, to come back from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate the Nationals. The Cubs are playing with the never-give-up-until-the-last-out mentality right now, and the end of the Curse seems to be the closest it has been in recent memories. The Dodgers should be delighted their ace appears to be ace-like in the playoffs again after turning in a Madison Bumgarner-esque performance against the Nationals. Kershaw pitched Game 4 on only three days’ rest and closed out the do-or-die Game 5 on one day of rest. The Cubs are confident heading into the series, but a Dodgers team that has the ability to start a dominant Kershaw at most three times might be enough to stop the Cubs’ quest for a title.