2023 MLB Playoff Predictions

Which underdog will sneak in? Who will win the World Series?

Scoreboard-watching and hand-wringing over missed opportunities are in full effect as the MLB regular season has reached pennant race mode.

At this point in time, there are six weeks plus a series left in the regular season. Every game feels like it counts double, when in fact their impact is just the same as those ones from April. It is just that at this point of the season, you know what teams you are chasing or which ones are trying to run you down, depending on your place in the standings.

With that in mind, here is one take on what could transpire the rest of the regular season and then the postseason. Who will win the World Series? If we learned anything from last year’s run in this new format, getting there will be extremely fun — unless your favorite team is in there, then every pitch will be agonizing.

First, I will take a look at each league and how the division races and seedings will go, then on to what will transpire in the postseason. (Note: When referring to schedules, they do not include any references to series ending today.)


American League


There are three certainties here. The top two teams in the American League East as of today, the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, will be in the playoffs, as will the Central-leading Minnesota Twins. In the West, the Texas Rangers and defending World Series champion Houston Astros will battle it out for the division, with the runner-up likely making the six-team AL field for the playoffs.


1. Baltimore Orioles (AL East)

Remaining series (in order): A’s, Jays, Rockies, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Angels, Red Sox, Cardinals, Rays, Astros, Guardians, Nationals, Red Sox

What happens: With only four of their remaining 13 series against AL East foes — two against the Red Sox — the Orioles have the schedule advantage over the Rays. Plus, playing four of MLB’s bottom-dwellers in the Rockies, White Sox, Cardinals and Nationals will further that edge. The O’s might have arrived a year early, but they are proving they are worthy of winning the division.


2. Texas Rangers (AL West)

Remaining series: Brewers, D’backs, Twins, Mets, Twins, Astros, A’s, Jays, Guardians, Red Sox, Mariners, Angels, Mariners

What happens: This will be the most interesting race down the stretch due to the implications of winning the division vs. finishing second. I am giving the Rangers a slight edge to win the division and earn the second bye, but only by a slim margin. Facing the Red Sox, Mariners, Angels and Mariners again to finish the season will be the real test aside from the one series vs. the Astros.


3. Minnesota Twins (AL Central)

Remaining series: Pirates, Brewers, Rangers, Guardians, Rangers, Guardians, Mets, Rays, White Sox, Reds, Angels, A’s, Rockies

What happens: The two series against the second-place Guardians will determine if Cleveland can stay in the AL Central race. Otherwise, this is the Twins’ division to lose.


4. Tampa Bay Rays (wild card)

Remaining series: Angels, Rockies, Yankees, Marlins, Guardians, Red Sox, Mariners, Twins, Orioles, Angels, Jays, Red Sox, Jays

What happens: It just feels that the starting pitching losses the Rays have sustained, including the latest in Shane McClanahan, will prevent the Rays from overtaking the Orioles. The acquisition of Aaron Civale looks even bigger now as it will be up to Civale, Zach Eflin and Tyler Glasnow to carry the rotation.


5. Houston Astros (wild card)

Remaining series: Mariners, Red Sox, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Padres, A’s, Royals, Orioles, Royals, Mariners, D’backs

What happens: A slightly tougher schedule that includes four series against AL East teams only places more emphasis on the Astros essentially needing to sweep two series from the Royals and one vs. the A’s.


6. Toronto Blue Jays (wild card)

Remaining series: Reds, Orioles, Guardians, Nationals, Rockies, A’s, Royals, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Yankees, Rays

What happens: The next two weeks will go a long way to determining whether it will be the Jays or Mariners who get the final AL spot. The Mariners will need to make a huge push against the White Sox, Royals, A’s, Mets, and Reds before facing the Rays, Angels, Dodgers, A’s, Astros, and Rangers twice in the last three series to close the schedule. The Red Sox could be a sneaky pick here, especially finishing with four games against the Orioles.


National League


There is a clear king of the hill and then a bunch of what-ifs in the National League. Atlanta has clearly been the top team in the NL all season and the best in MLB for different stretches. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the No. 2 team, but then there is a lot of teams that could get swept in the Wild Card Series or win the whole darn thing.


1. Atlanta (NL East)

Remaining series: Giants, Mets, Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies, Marlins, Phillies, Nationals, Cubs, Nationals

What happens: This is the best team in baseball. Atlanta will coast down the stretch, win a sixth straight NL East title and get ready to avoid repeating last year’s postseason, where it was soundly sent home by the Phillies.


2. Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West)

Remaining series: Marlins, Guardians, Red Sox, D’backs, Atlanta, Marlins, Nationals, Padres, Mariners, Tigers, Giants, Rockies, Giants

What happens: The Dodgers are comfortably in the NL West lead, with the Giants sitting in second place. The Giants don’t have the firepower and have a much tougher schedule. The only hope is that two Giants-Dodgers series in the final three are relevant for San Francisco. Otherwise, the Dodgers are looking to get ready for the postseason.


3. Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central)

Remaining series: Rangers, Twins, Padres, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Marlins, Nationals, Cardinals, Marlins, Cardinals, Cubs

What happens: Facing the Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, and Cubs twice, including to finish the season, will hold the key to the Brewers winning the NL Central. With Brandon Woodruff having returned to the rotation, that gives the Brew Crew enough of an edge to stave off the Cubs to win the division.


4. Philadelphia Phillies (wild card)

Remaining series: Nationals, Giants, Cardinals, Angels, Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Atlanta, Cardinals, Atlanta, Mets, Pirates, Mets

What happens: Other than two series against Atlanta and one vs. the Brewers, the Phillies have a very beneficial schedule. There is no chance to overtake Atlanta in the NL East, so solidifying their spot as the No. 1 wild card will have to do.


5. Chicago Cubs (wild card)

Remaining series: Royals, Tigers, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Giants, D’backs, Rockies, D’backs, Pirates, Rockies, Atlanta, Brewers

What happens: The Cubs surged into playoff contention with an eight-game winning streak in July and have remained hot offensively. That trend should continue with a favorable schedule. Two showdowns with the Central-leading Brewers, including the last three in Milwaukee, could swing the pendulum into Chicago’s favor.


6. San Francisco Giants (wild card)

Remaining series: Atlanta, Phillies, Atlanta, Reds, Padres, Cubs, Rockies, Guardians, Rockies, D’backs, Dodgers, Padres, Dodgers

What happens: This will be the playoff spot with the most competition. While the Giants have two winnable series vs. the Rockies, they also face Atlanta and the Dodgers twice each as well as single series against other wild-card contenders in the Cubs, Reds and D’backs. The Reds, who have been a wonderful story since Elly De La Cruz’s MLB debut in early June, are a dark-horse candidate here and have the schedule to overtake the Giants.



AL Wild Card Series (best-of-three)

No. 6 Blue Jays over No. 3 Twins: Other than the top two seeds, every other playoff team in the AL wants the No. 6 spot so it can face the AL Central winner, in this case, the Twins. The Central has easily been the worst division in MLB and it isn’t even close. The Blue Jays will be in full playoff mode the rest of the way, while the Twins are likely to cruise without much division drama. Getting first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. going would be huge to the Jays’ offense.

No. 5 Astros over No. 4 Rays: This would be a better series if the Rays had another one or two of their injured starters available, but that is not the case. The Astros’ championship pedigree will show up in the postseason, especially now with Justin Verlander leading the starting rotation. The Rays’ shot here will be if their offense takes over and someone in their rotation steps up to steal a game.


NL Wild Card Series (best-of-three)

No. 3 Brewers over No. 6 Giants: The Brewers have found a little more offense in the second half with the promotion of outfield prospect Sal Frelick and the trade acquisitions of outfielder-first baseman Mark Canha and first baseman Carlos Santana. That should be more than enough for Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and if needed, Freddy Peralta to dispatch the Giants.

No. 4 Phillies over No. 5 Cubs: The Phillies showed last year in this new playoff format that you just need to get into the dance in order to have a chance. The reigning NL champs have more pitching than the Cubs as well as better lineup depth. But if the Cubs have made a magical run to the postseason, could that continue in the Wild Card Series?


AL Division Series (best-of-five)

No. 1 Orioles over No. 6 Blue Jays: The Baby Birds just have a feel of a team of destiny. The biggest question is whether they have the starting pitching to make it happen. With the bye, the O’s will be able to set up their rotation. But who goes in Game 1? Right-hander Jack Flaherty would have to be a candidate due to his experience with the St. Louis Cardinals, but left-hander John Means could throw his hat into the ring if he makes it back from injury in September.

This could be a key series for the future of the Blue Jays as currently constructed. They have underperformed this season, so an early exit could bring about a bit of a retooling in the offseason. But that pressure might also work in their favor as Guerrero, shortstop Bo Bichette and outfielder Daulton Varsho decide to take over. They have the starting pitching in Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi to knock off the Orioles.

No. 2 Rangers over No. 5 Astros: The battle of Texas teams carries over to the playoffs and is not only for a spot in the AL Championship Series but will set the tone for the next couple of seasons in the AL West. Neither franchise is going away and has the resources to add whatever they want in the offseason. The Rangers’ offense has been putting up fantastic numbers all season and isn’t reliant on any one hitter, but these are the moments that shortstop Corey Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien were brought to Texas. If right-hander Nathan Eovaldi returns to the rotation by the end of August as expected, rolling him out with Max Scherzer, Jon Gray and Dane Dunning provides quality.

Of course, the Astros counter with their own formidable rotation of Verlander, Framber Valdez, José Urquidy and Cristian Javier. Left fielder-DH Yordan Alvarez shines in the postseason, but will first baseman José Abreu bounce back from back issues to become a key contributor? If shortstop Jeremy Peña finds the postseason magic that saw him earn the ALCS and World Series MVP awards as a rookie, the Astros could be unstoppable.


NL Division Series (best-of-five)

No. 1 Atlanta over No. 4 Phillies: Atlanta will be motivated by last year’s NL Division Series loss to the Phillies. It won’t happen again unless Atlanta falls apart offensively, but with the ability to hit the number of home runs it has this season, even a few solo shots will be enough to get past Philly.

No. 2 Dodgers vs. No. 3 Brewers: This could be a fascinating series, especially if right-hander Lance Lynn continues to perform like he has in his first three starts for the Dodgers. Starting pitching has been a bit of an issue for L.A., but with left-handers Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw atop the rotation and likely having their workloads curtailed at the end of the regular season without having to battle for a playoff spot or seeding, the Dodgers’ starters should be in fine position entering the postseason. The Dodgers also have a history of their complementary players coming through in the postseason, one reason they brought back Kiké Hernández and added Amed Rosario at the trade deadline.

Burnes and Woodruff can match Urías and Kershaw at the top, but this matchup feels like it will depend on the performance of the Brewers’ bullpen, which has been ridden hard all season. If unproven Joel Payamps, Hoby Milner, rookie Abner Uribe, and Elvis Peguero don’t wilt under the bright lights, this series could go the distance.


AL Championship Series (best-of-seven)

No. 2 Rangers over No. 1 Orioles: It will be youth vs. the veterans for a berth in the World Series. The teams split the six-game season series, with the Orioles winning two of three in Texas in the second series of the season and the Rangers taking two of three in Baltimore in late May. Baltimore is burgeoning with young talent. Catcher Adley Rutschman, third baseman-shortstop Gunnar Henderson, infielder Jordan Westburg, and right-handers Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez are all in their first or second seasons and play a key role.

As mentioned in the ALDS matchup, the Orioles don’t have an imposing starting rotation, especially when compared to what the Rangers will roll out, led by Scherzer, Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery. The Rangers should have the more difficult ALDS as they face the World Series champion Astros, so if Houston roughs up Texas too much, Baltimore would have a better path to getting to the World Series. While the O’s do have a young nucleus, veterans such as center fielder Cedric Mullins, right fielder Anthony Santander and left fielder Aaron Hicks will prove vital in whether Baltimore advances.


NL Championship Series (best-of-seven)

No. 1 Atlanta over No. 2 Dodgers: The two NL heavyweights will square off for the third time in the last four years in the NLCS, with each team winning one and then going on to capture the World Series (Dodgers in 2020, Atlanta in 2021). L.A. has been in the NLCS in five of the past seven years, advancing to the Fall Classic three times, while Atlanta has made five straight playoff appearances before this season. All that means is that neither team will be surprised by what transpires in the postseason. How the stars perform will be integral, but which secondary player steps up will provide the difference. While the Dodgers’ lineup features Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Will Smith, it could be a Hernandez, Max Muncy, J.D. Martinez or James Outman.

On Atlanta’s side, Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, and Ozzie Albies lead the way, so keep an eye on Austin Riley, Sean Murphy, Orlando Arcia, Eddie Rosario, and Michael Harris II. Since the Dodgers decided to essentially punt last offseason, their depth is a little thinner offensively and on the mound. Atlanta’s decidedly stronger pitching staff will prove to be the difference.


World Series (best-of-seven)

No. 1 Atlanta over No. 2 Texas: Both teams have seemed destined to reach the World Series this year. Atlanta has been dominant from the outset, while the Rangers have overcome the loss of top offseason acquisition Jacob deGrom and established themselves as a new force in the AL. Both teams have one of the top two offenses in MLB, yet go about their production in different ways. While Atlanta relies primarily on home runs and is on pace to break the single-season record of 307 (2019 Twins), the Rangers use more of a balanced lineup approach, expecting all nine spots to produce. But can the secondary pieces produce?

Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis García, Josh Jung, and Jonah Heim will need to outproduce Atlanta’s second level. That will be up to Atlanta starters Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Bryce Elder, and an experienced bullpen anchored by Raisel Iglesias. In the end, Atlanta will have too many weapons for the Rangers to overcome and win its second World Series in three years.


Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

3 responses to “2023 MLB Playoff Predictions”

  1. Daniel Mills says:

    Can’t believe you’re putting all your credentials just to be wrong. Why not state the obvious. The Mariners have the easiest schedule for the remainder of the season with the best pitching in baseball. Not to mention 2 closers. I’ll let you guess who. They average the most runs in later innings and there isn’t a team in the AL that comes alive like them when there behind. Kelenic and Crawford will be back at the perfect time. They’ll make the playoffs possibly win there division. World Series for first time and I’ll predict they beat the Braves in 7. You’ll remember me. Danny Mills aka Dgreek74

  2. Bob Showe says:

    Don’t count out those young Birds from Baltimore

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