Home Sports LCS expert predictions: Astros or Rangers? Phillies or D-backs? And who will be the MVPs?

LCS expert predictions: Astros or Rangers? Phillies or D-backs? And who will be the MVPs?

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LCS expert predictions: Astros or Rangers? Phillies or D-backs? And who will be the MVPs?

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The 2023 MLB playoffs are down to four teams after surprising division series saw three of the four top-seeded teams get knocked out.

Now that the Texas RangersHouston Astros and Arizona DiamondbacksPhiladelphia Phillies 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 and the themes we’ll all be talking about in the next week. They’ll also explain why their initial MLB postseason predictions are still in play — or went very wrong.


American League Championship Series

Houston Astros (6 votes), Texas Rangers (4)

Tristan Cockcroft: Rangers in 6

MVP: Corey Seager

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Seager strengthening his case as one of this generation’s most dominant forces in October.

Bradford Doolittle: Astros in 6

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: How this series sets the tone for big league baseball in Texas for years to come. Baseball is better for its best rivalries, and Astros-Rangers is already a good one with plenty of kindling in place for a roaring fire.

Alden Gonzalez: Rangers in 6

MVP: Marcus Semien

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Max Scherzer‘s heroic return, and how his presence created the domino effect that helped the Rangers make up for a leaky bullpen.

Eric Karabell: Astros in 6

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The disappointing New York Mets when Justin Verlander faces off twice against Scherzer.

Tim Kurkjian: Astros in 7

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The Astros trying to become the first team since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees to repeat as World Series champions, and the devastation of Alvarez in the middle of the order.

Paul Hembekides: Astros in 7

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: We’ll be talking about Houston’s late-game heroics against a Texas bullpen that proved to be its undoing.

Kiley McDaniel: Astros in 7

MVP: Alex Bregman

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The battle for Texas might not seem like a sexy or historic matchup, but these teams will be going head-to-head in this division for years, so this may kick it off.

Jeff Passan: Astros in 7

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: How the Rangers’ bullpen, which has significantly outperformed expectations, finally regresses to the mean. As relentless as Texas’ lineup is, the Astros’ October tradition of chewing up opposing pitchers continues on.

Jesse Rogers: Rangers in 6

MVP: Adolis Garcia

The one thing we’ll be talking about: It’s hard to repeat, and the Astros will finally run out of steam as the Rangers train just won’t be stopped now that it’s back on track. Garcia will step outside the national shadow of veterans like Seager and Semien and make an even bigger name for himself.

David Schoenfield: Rangers in 7

MVP: Nathan Eovaldi

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The impressive depth of the Rangers’ lineup (although Eovaldi will win MVP honors with two superlative starts). And the much-maligned Texas bullpen might blow a game but will pitch just well enough to secure the series in seven games.


National League Championship Series

Philadelphia Phillies (9 votes), Arizona Diamondbacks (1)

Cockcroft: Phillies in 5

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Like Seager, Harper strengthening his case as one of this generation’s most dominant forces in October.

Doolittle: Phillies in 5

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: All of the things that have gotten Arizona to this point — lights-out bullpen, timely power surges at the plate, star players doing star things — are things that the Phillies have in place as well. And Philly has the edge in experience and in general after coming so close to winning it all last season.

Gonzalez: Phillies in 5

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Bryce Harper: The new Mr. October.

Karabell: Phillies in 5

MVP: Zack Wheeler

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Harper, sure, but also the impressive group of young players the Phillies call the Day Care — Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh.

Kurkjian: Phillies in 7

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The power and passion of the Phillies, as well as their remarkable home crowd. Bryce Harper will be leading the way.

Hembekides: Phillies in 6

MVP: Kyle Schwarber

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The Phillies’ historic home run barrage for the second consecutive series.

McDaniel: Phillies in 6

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Are the Phillies the ultimate playoff mojo team, is Dave Dombrowski the team-building playoff whisperer, or have they objectively cracked the code in terms of how to build a playoff winner?

Passan: Phillies in 6

MVP: Bryce Harper

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: The first World Series rematch in almost half a century. In 1977 and 1978, the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers faced off, with the Yankees winning both Series and cementing Reggie Jackson as Mr. October. This will be a grudge match for the ages.

Rogers: Phillies in 6

MVP: Trea Turner

The one thing we’ll be talking about: It’s simple. Philly fans won’t be denied. They’re inevitable.

Schoenfield: Diamondbacks in 7

MVP: Corbin Carroll

The one thing we’ll all be talking about: Nobody is going to pick the Diamondbacks, which underestimates that OF COURSE Arizona has a chance to win even if Philly has all those vibes going right now. Advice to Diamondbacks players: Don’t say anything about Bryce Harper that could lead to the Phillies wearing T-shirts in a champagne celebration that mock you.


World Series predictions we’re right about — so far

Hembekides: I predicted a Phillies-Astros rematch, but I would not be surprised if Houston stumbles in the ALCS. Texas boasts the deepest lineup in the sport — that is a coin-flip series.

Karabell: I originally had the Phillies over the Rays. Phillies-Astros is going to be a cool World Series rematch — the first since 1978 (Yankees-Dodgers) — but the Phillies are much improved from last season, notably in the bullpen and defensively. Perhaps they will be more careful with Alvarez this time. Phillies dance to the title.

Doolittle: Phillies over Rays. I feel really good about half of this pick. Not just because the Phillies are still going, but because they’ve come together in the precise way I thought they might. The most reinforcing aspect of the Phillies’ run so far is the way manager Rob Thomson deployed his bullpen in the clincher against Atlanta, favoring matchups over pre-programmed roles and even doing so with Craig Kimbrel. As for the Rays, well, picking the playoffs is hard, except when you’re right.


World Series predictions gone wrong

Schoenfield: Orioles over Phillies. Well, I guess I won’t be going to that parade in Baltimore. I watched too much of the Rangers that final series against the Mariners, when the bats went cold, and underestimated their ability to flip the switch. I had the Phillies beating the Braves (and then the Dodgers), so why turn on them now? But hey, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly are really good.

Cockcroft: Braves over Orioles. What can I say? This year’s Braves were certainly a better team than last year’s model, but so were this year’s Phillies. I should’ve taken more into account the rotational injuries the Braves absorbed late in the season, I suppose.

I don’t have a big issue with the five-day layoff for top seeds, but the remainder of the postseason should be seven-game series, period. For one, the play-in teams should have a tougher hurdle in Round 2, with their rotation potentially really being out of whack, and for another, isn’t the whole idea that we want to see these regular-season dynamos play more games? Don’t let them get bounced in three — though, to be honest, I’m not sure either of these Orioles or Braves teams would have won had it been a seven-game series.

McDaniel: Braves over Astros. I feel fine about the Astros prediction and it was a pretty common refrain before the NLDS that the Philly/Atlanta winner would win the NL. We knew the Braves’ rotation would be an issue and that the Phillies’ bullpen was improved and their rotation was good. But some combination of luck and game-planning caused all of those observations to the extreme, while the best offense in our lifetime looked that way for only a handful of innings.

Rogers: Braves over Astros. Home runs win playoff games, so great home run-hitting teams should be a lock for a couple of rounds of the postseason. But the Braves stopped hitting them while the Phillies went deep early and often. The mystery of the best home run-hitting team in MLB history getting knocked out in the first round it played in will last long into the winter.

Passan: Braves over Rays. Tampa Bay faltered. Atlanta got attaboyed. The baseball playoffs are the closest thing we have in professional sports to the NCAA basketball tournament. And even though the upsets ruined my bracket, the remaining matchups are intriguing enough that I’m just fine with it.

Gonzalez: I picked the Braves over the Blue Jays, so … yeah. I felt as if those were the most well-rounded teams in each league — and, for the record, I still think they are. But as Nick Castellanos said, the postseason is a completely different beast. And neither of those two teams hit anywhere near as much as they should have.

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