MLB playoffs: There are 4 division series matchups this weekend
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
The Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing, with a slate of games scheduled for today and over the weekend. All of these series are best of five, so the team that wins three games moves on to the next round. Alanna Rizzo from the Major League Baseball Network is with us.
Alanna, let's start in the National League - Phillies hosting the Atlanta Braves, series tied at 1. How are the Phillies, the team with the worst playoff record - actually, the regular season record in the playoffs managed to basically put the Braves on the brink here.
ALANNA RIZZO: Well, good morning. I think the biggest thing is that the Braves do such a great job at home. They're at Truist Park in Atlanta. And they have such a great record there over the course of the regular season. I want to say it's the third-best record in all of baseball in terms of home-field advantage. And the Phillies - you have to keep in mind, they've been playing on the road for quite some time. So the fact that the Phillies were able to get that first game is huge. You want to go on the road and at least - at the very least - be able to get a split. The Phillies did that in Game 1. The Braves answered in Game 2. And they had that timely hit that you're constantly looking for.
So I don't think for one second that the Atlanta Braves are worried at all about this series now that they go back to Philly and play at Citizens Bank Park. The Atlanta Braves are, of course, the reigning World Series champions. They have an incredibly good core of players. And I do think that they'll be just fine. I certainly picked Atlanta in that series.
MARTINEZ: All right. Now, the Padres, San Diego Padres - they're home tonight to take on the LA Dodgers. It's a chance to take a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers won 111 games, fourth most in history. They dominated the Padres all season. How much trouble are the Dodgers in?
RIZZO: I don't think the Dodgers are in any sort of trouble at all. If you take a look at what the Dodgers have done historically - and I understand that Padres fans think that this is a rivalry. I can respect that. But it's not a rivalry until there's, you know, equal wins and losses on both sides. I think the Padres did a tremendous job in Game 2 of being able to use their bullpen effectively. And I also think that Manny Machado, who has carried the Padres the entire season, came up huge against Clayton Kershaw with an early home run in Game 2.
But if you look at the Dodgers - and you mentioned 111 wins - they just have the playoff experience that the Padres do not have. Now, what I do think the Padres have over the Dodgers is probably better starting pitching. In Game 3, it's Blake Snell going up against Tony Gonsolin. In Game 4, it's Joe Musgrove going up against Tyler Anderson. The Dodgers wouldn't have been where they were without those two. But when you're going head to head, I think it favors the Padres. But I certainly - just based on the offense of the Dodgers and postseason experience, I don't consider the Dodgers to be in trouble. I pick the Dodgers in four.
MARTINEZ: OK. We've got a minute left - two series to go, Astros trying to get back to the World Series. They lead the Mariners 2-zip. The Mariners were a big surprise - first time in the playoffs in 20 years. Are the Astros are about to rain on that Seattle parade?
RIZZO: I don't think so. And I think, you know, the fact that the Astros had an opportunity to lose Game 1 - and they didn't. And the Mariners let Justin Verlander off the hook. And now they're going down - back home, thankfully - but they're down 0-2. And that's a very difficult thing to respond to and come back from. The Astros are about to make their sixth straight trip to the American League Championship series. And I love what the Mariners are putting together, and they have a bright future. But I think there's no way the Astros will lose three in a row.
MARTINEZ: Now, speaking of rainouts, the first game of the day is a makeup of yesterday's Game 2 rainout in New York between the Yankees and Cleveland Guardians. If this were the regular season, a rainout would probably be no big deal. But how does a rainout impact a team's playoff strategies?
RIZZO: Well, if it was the regular season, you'd find an equally - mutually agreed upon makeup date. But that's not the case. Now what they're going to have to do is potentially play four straight games, which really wreaks havoc on their bullpen.
MARTINEZ: That's a Alanna Rizzo from the MLB Network.
Alanna, thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.