No, you didn’t misread your calendar. Yesterday was not July 31st, famous for its last minute blockbuster deals. Instead, it was August 31st, the waiver trade deadline in the MLB, and it did not disappoint in game-changing deals.
The Astros picked up Maybin and Verlander, the Angels got Phillips and Upton, and the Cubs even snagged Leonys Martin.
With only a month left until playoff baseball, with final rosters just about set, let’s see what October will look like. What impact will these last minute August deals have on crowning the 2017 World Series Champion?
What a wacky night. Justin Verlander is gone to the Astros. Tigers trading the face of the franchise. https://t.co/gxEwUZZAot
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 1, 2017
AL Wild Card Game: Angels @ Yankees (Angels win 7-5)
The Angels might have helped themselves the most yesterday, acquiring All Star Justin Upton and seasoned vet Brandon Phillips to bolster their offense. They also have Mike Trout and a sneaky-good Andrelton Simmons. I see the Angels getting down big to start the game, but in the middle innings, they tack on a few against the Yankees’ starter (presumably Sonny Gray). The Yanks will hand it to their bullpen with a lead, but a go-ahead knock by Justin Upton off of Aroldis Chapman will put the Halos on top. Judge will strike out in the bottom of the 9th as New York becomes heartbroken.
— MLB (@MLB) September 1, 2017
NL Wild Card Game: Rockies @ Diamondbacks (Dbacks win 5-3)
If this game was played at Coors field, it would be a whole different story. But it most likely won’t be, with the Dbacks 3.5 games up on the Rockies; Blackmon, Arenado, and the crew’s home-road splits are easily visible. Greinke will most likely start the game for the Dbacks and he won’t disappoint, going 7 strong giving up 2 earned. The Dbacks will go up in the first thanks to a Jake Lamb double and won’t look back.
ALDS: Red Sox @ Indians (Indians in 4)
This rematch of the 2016 ALDS could be the most interesting 2017 playoff series. None of the numerous storylines here will top the game 1 pitching matchup: Sale vs Kluber.
These aces have arguably been the two best hurlers in the whole MLB this year. Sale’s numbers would be even more god-like if he didn’t face the Indians, a team that he struggled against immensely. The Indians will take the first two in the series behind Kluber and Carrasco, and will win it in 4 in Fenway. The series MVP? Jay Bruce hits his third homer in four games, going deep in the 8th inning off of Addison Reed to give the Indians the lead in game 4.
ALDS: Angels @ Astros (Astros in 3)
The ‘Stros spend the whole month of September getting healthy and regaining their first half offensive form: unstoppable. Altuve is on base 3 times a game and George Springer hits a leadoff homer to start Game 3. Also, Carlos Correa starts swinging the bat like a madman: hitting over .400 with 2 homers in the 3 game set, earning MVP honors. At a pivotal point in Game 3, Devenski relieves McCullers with 2 on and Trout up with Upton on deck. He strikes out Trout with a filthy changeup and Upton pops out. The Astros look unfazed, forcefully taking 3 in a row from the Halos.
NLDS: Cubs @ Nationals (Nationals in 3)
Bing Bang Boom. Just like that, the Nats take 3 from the Cubbies, throwing starters with sub 3.00 ERAs in each game. In Game 1, Bryzzo combines for 5 Ks against Scherzer, and he deals all the way into the 8th. Trea Turner steals 3 bags off of Lester in game 1, stealing 5 throughout the whole series. The Cubs are up by 2 in the late innings of Game 3, but white- hot Jayson Werth hits a shot over the Ivy, giving the Nats a lead, and earning himself series MVP honors. Dusty Baker and the Nats finally win a postseason series and breathe a sigh of relief: they can literally feel the monkey climbing off of their backs.
NLDS: Dbacks @ Dodgers (Dodgers in 5)
Even without Greinke, the Dbacks take Game 1 in Dodger stadium behind a gem from Robbie Ray, as Kershaw’s postseason mediocrity continues. Corey Seager goes deep twice behind a strong Darvish start in Game 2 to knot things up. Greinke throws a shutout in Game 3, but the Dodgers bounce back, winning the last two convincingly. Justin Turner wins series MVP with 7 hits across the final 2 games, giving him 12 for the series. The Dodger’s inevitable road to the World Series may be more difficult than they thought.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 26, 2017
ALCS: Indians @ Astros (Astros in 7)
Professional sports teams tend to thrive after tragedies in their city: the Red Sox won the World Series after the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013. The Yankees reached a World Series after 9/11. The New Orleans Saints won their first ever Super Bowl in franchise history just a few years after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
Months after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, the ‘Stros will find themselves in one heck of a battle against the Tribe. Kluber will baffle the seemingly unbeatable Astros offense in Game 1, and the Houstonians will exit Minute Maid Park confused about what happened to their team. The next night, the Astros come back strong, with homers by both Correa and Altuve in the first, en route to a huge victory for H-town.
— MLB (@MLB) September 1, 2017
The teams trade wins until Game 7: Kluber vs Verlander. This Game 7 is the most talked about sporting event in Houston history. It is a 3-3 game going into the bottom of the 9th. Altuve walks to lead off the inning and then steals second. With two outs and Altuve still on second, Marwin Gonzalez ends the series with a liner to right-center, sending Houston into a frenzy. Altuve wins series MVP, hitting .450 with 3 homers across the 7 games.
NLCS: Nationals @ Dodgers (Nats in 6)
Just as he finishes sighing, (see above) Dusty Baker is faced with the task of traveling to LA to begin a series against one of the best teams in MLB History. The two teams can certainly match aces: Scherzer outduels Kershaw in Game 1, throwing 7 shutout innings. Dodger fans start a petition to give Kershaw to the Giants in the playoffs for Madison Bumgarner. Stephen Strasburg suffers a mild injury in the 4th inning of Game 2 and the Dodgers get a much needed victory behind a solid Yu Darvish outing and a pinch hit Curtis Granderson homer off of Matt Albers.
The teams split the two games in the Nation’s Capital: Alex Wood and Gio Gonzalez both deal, and Cody Bellinger is nowhere to be found. In Game 5, Kershaw actually outpitches Scherzer and gives the Dodgers a 3-1 lead going into the 8th. With 2 on and 2 outs, Baker pinch hits for Scherzer with newly acquired Howie Kendrick. Dave Roberts counters, bringing in Kenley Jansen for a 4-out-save. Howie doubles off the wall in right center, scoring two. On the next pitch, Trea Turner singles up the middle to give the Nats a lead that would not be given up, as Madson and Doolittle strike out 5 across the final 2 frames. In Game 6, Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper hit back to back homers and the Nats end the Dodger’s historic season behind series MVP Daniel Murphy and his 9 RBIs and 12 hits across the 6 games.
✅ Throw a shutout.
✅ Hit a homer.
— MLB (@MLB) August 30, 2017
World Series: Nationals @ Astros (Astros in 7)
Both of these teams have overachieved, and frankly, should be happy to make it to the World Series. The Nationals haven’t ever won a playoff series in DC, and the Astros are still very young with future upside: this didn’t HAVE to be their year.
But this World Series does not disappoint. Both Verlander and Keuchel throw absolute gems in the first two games, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead in the series. The Nats bounce back behind another strong Gio Gonzalez start and 2 Bryce Harper homers in Games 3. Harper is now extremely hot and Strasburg is cleared by team Doctors to start Game 4. Strasburg dazzles and Harper, Zimmerman, and Rendon homer in a blowout 8-2 Game 4 win for the Nationals. Nats fans concur that every last dime put into Strasburg was validated by that one start.
Astros fans are now worried: All 3 Nats’ aces are hot and so is the most feared hitter in baseball. Justin Verlander quiets the haters, allowing 1 earned across 8 innings and both George Springer and Evan Gattis homer in a huge Game 5 victory for Houston.
Neither Keuchel nor Gonzalez is that great in Game 6, but in the 6th inning, Harper hits a moonshot into the second deck off of a Chris Devenski changeup, scoring 3. Doolittle strikes out the side in the 9th, giving baseball fans back to back seasons with a 7 Game World Series. Nobody is complaining.
Strasburg is set to start for the Nats and McCullers for the Astros. Both Scherzer and Verlander sit in the bullpen expecting to be used later in the game. The game does not start well for H town. Harper and Murphy both double in the first as the Nats take a 2-0 lead. McCullers gives up another 3 in the 4th, while Strasburg looks unhittable as he throws a no-no trough 4. In the bottom of the 5th, down 5, Josh Reddick leads off with a dribbler down the 3rd base line for the Astros’ first hit of the game. Altuve and Correa both single and Dusty decides to hand the ball to Scherzer with a 5-1 lead, no outs, and runners on first and third. After working a full count, Carlos Beltran continues his postseason legacy by launching a shot to straightaway center. All of America can’t help but being happy for all of Houston and Dusty Baker shuts his eyes in disgust after seemingly making yet another bad decision in the postseason.
It is evident that Scherzer is weary, as he allows another in the 5th to tie the game up: 5-5. Despite watching what he just saw transpire, A.J. Hinch brings in his ace to pitch the 6th inning. Searching for a moment to cap off his phenomenal career and to hopefully send him to Cooperstown, Justin Verlander does not disappoint on the big stage, throwing shutout innings in the 6th and the 7th. Devenski throws a shutout 8th and the game is still tied going into the bottom half of the inning.
Ryan Madson finds himself in trouble, with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Baker elects to walk Correa, pitch to Marwin Gonzalez, and bring in Sean Doolittle for a favorable lefty-lefty matchup. Gonzalez takes a hack at the first pitch, lining it to left field. Off the bat, Houston fans expect extra bases but collectively sigh as they see Jayson Werth camped under it. But wait! Werth loses it in the lights! The ball lands 10 feet behind Werth, and Marwin Gonzalez is the hero yet again after a 3 RBI double.
Though the inning is difficult, Giles gets through the 9th only allowing 1 run- Trea Turner scoring on a passed ball. Verlander wins MVP after his two gems and clutch appearance out of the bullpen in Game 7.
And America watches, smiling.
That’s it! Houston wins their first World Series in franchise history, bringing joy to a city where tragedy struck just two months ago.