Major League Baseball's postseason field is set, meaning that the only thing left to do is play the games. The playoffs begin in earnest this afternoon with the best-of-three Wild Card Series. Before the end of the month, on Friday, Oct. 27, the World Series will be underway. In between, there'll be plenty of exciting postseason baseball to consume and enjoy. (You can check out the full playoff bracket and schedule here.)
For those who have forgotten how the playoffs are structured, allow us to offer a quick refresher. The top two teams in each league receive a first-round bye. The other clubs in each league are then paired up to play a best-of-three series. From there, the postseason takes its old form: a best-of-five Division Series, a best-of-seven League Championship Series, and, of course, the best-of-seven World Series. Then someone gets to throw a parade.
Here's a look at the playoff field on both sides:
No. 1 Orioles, No. 2 Astros
Wild Card Series
No. 3 Twins vs. No. 6 Blue Jays
No. 4 Rays vs. No. 5 Rangers
No. 1 Braves, No. 2 Dodgers
Wild Card Series
No. 3 Brewers vs. No. 6 Diamondbacks
No. 4 Phillies vs. No. 5 Marlins
The only thing better than postseason baseball is providing another opportunity for folks to take offense to predictions. As such, below CBS Sports has offered our predictions and explanations for the entire postseason. Much like psychic readings in New Jersey, we are obligated to note that these are only for entertainment purposes. Now, to the picks.
R.J. Anderson's bracket
World Series pick: Braves over Astros
Anderson: I think the Braves are clearly the best team in baseball, so picking them to win the entire thing is pretty straightforward. Elsewhere, I tried to alternate between "better team" and "upsets happen" with one notable exception: the Twins. I would love to see them win a playoff series for the first time in a very, very long time. I don't think they're a better team than the Blue Jays, and they're certainly banged up. But they do have a good top of the rotation, and maybe Rocco Baldelli can work some magic.
Mike Axisa's bracket
World Series pick: Braves over Rays
Axisa: The American League is wide open this season. I'm not sure the Orioles have the pitching to get through October and the Astros are more vulnerable now than at any point in the last 6-7 years. The Rays, even with their pitching injuries, strike me as the most complete team, so they're my pick to come out of the Junior Circuit. The Braves are pretty clearly the best team in baseball, and even though Max Fried and Charlie Morton are hurt, they have the pitching depth and offense to cover. The Brewers have the rotation but not the offense and the Dodgers are too banged up for me to feel confident in them making deep runs. Anything can happen in short series, we know that. I just have a hard time seeing a team winning three out of five or four out of seven against Atlanta. They're my pick to win the World Series.
Kate Feldman's bracket
World Series pick: Braves over Rays
Feldman: If I had even a little more faith in the Rays' bullpen, I could have snuck them a ring, but alas, even the Braves' own rotation problems pale in comparison. Ronald Acuña Jr. is going to steal his way into the hearts, minds and stomachs (do they still do the Taco Bell deal?) this October and there's nothing any of us can do about it. The Orioles are a great story but that pitching staff needs more help than they got at the deadline, and the same can be said about the Astros and Dodgers. Hey, has anyone mentioned lately that pitching is king in the playoffs?
Dayn Perry's bracket
World Series pick: Rays over Braves
Perry: While I'm wary of the Braves' current rotation straits, particularly when it comes to health, that offense is so otherworldly that the margin for pitching error is quite high. All that lineup thump plus Spencer Strider's bat-missing capabilities will be enough for Atlanta. The Dodgers' own rotation issues will be their undoing against the Braves' lineup in the NLCS. Speaking of rotation shortcomings, I think the lack of depth -- even in a best-of-five -- is what keeps the Orioles from making a deep run despite their having won the toughest division in baseball. Overall, I'm taking the Rays to win it all for the first time in franchise history. While they're not quite the Braves on offense, they have a deep, balanced, and powerful lineup, but plus enough lefty-righty depth on the roster to complicate relief decisions. Their current bullpen situation plus Kevin Cash's expert use of it is ideally tailored to contemporary playoff baseball. I say they'll outlast the Braves in a high-scoring Fall Classic.
Stephen Pianovich's bracket
World Series pick: Phillies over Astros
Pianovich: Here on the World Wide Web, I have been consistently reminded that I picked the Atlanta Braves to finish third in their own division at the beginning of the season. The Braves have spent the last six months establishing themselves as the best team in baseball, and the pick has aged as poorly as possible. So what has it taught me as a prognosticator? In the words of right fielder/modern philosopher Nick Castellanos: "Not a damn thing." A wise man would use this opportunity to atone and pick Atlanta to win it all. I am not a wise man. I'm a Philadelphian who picked the Phillies to beat the Astros in the World Series in those very same preseason predictions. It's time to double down.
Matt Snyder's bracket
World Series pick: Braves over Orioles
Snyder: We haven't seen the best team in each league advance to the World Series in a full season since 2013 and it's about time that happens again. Sure, there's always funkiness in the playoffs, but I'm calling for that to happen in the first round and get it over with after that. It'll be a powerhouse final four with the top four seeds and the newbie Orioles will be the AL team to knock the mighty Astros out. How about Braves-Dodgers NLCS, Round 3? I just don't think the Dodgers or Orioles have enough pitching right now to hold the Braves down. If anyone is going to take down the Braves, I think it has to be the Phillies, but I'll go with the Braves this time.