Although the MLB postseason officially began on Tuesday night, when the Royals needed 12 innings to oust the Athletics in the AL Wild Card, the meat and potatoes of the playoffs comes to the table tonight. Both American League Division Series begin today, with the Tigers visiting the Orioles and the Royals heading west to face the Angels.
Here's a breakdown of each series and a prediction for who moves on to the ALCS.
ORIOLES VS. TIGERS
Regular season series
Tigers won, 5-1
Orioles' top hitters
Adam Jones (.281, 29 HRs, 96 RBIs), Nelson Cruz (.271, 40 HRs, 108 RBIs), Nick Markakis (.276, 14 HRs, 50 RBIs)
Tigers' top hitters
Victor Martinez (.335, 32 HRs, 103 RBIs), Miguel Cabrera (.313, 25 HRs, 109 RBIs), J.D. Martinez (.315, 23 HRs, 76 RBIs)
Orioles' top pitchers
Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA, 150 SO), Wei-Tin Chen (16-6, 3.54 ERA, 1.23 ERA), Zach Britton (37 Sv, 1.65 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)
Tigers' top pitchers
Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA, 252 SO), David Price (15-12, 3.26 ERA, 271 SO), Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
At full strength, Baltimore can contend with any team in the AL. But, the AL East champs won't be in this series. Third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Matt Wieters are hurt, and first baseman Chris Davis is suspended. That smarts, especially against the best starting rotation left in the playoffs. In addition to Detroit's aforementioned pitching studs, the NL Central winners have former AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.
Look for the Tigers' regular season dominance of the O's to continue as they oust Baltimore in four games.
ANGELS VS. ROYALS
Regular season series
Angels' top hitters
Mike Trout (.287, 36 HRs, 111 RBIs), Albert Pujols (.272, 28 HRs, 105 RBIs), Howie Kendrick (.293, 75 RBIs, 14 SBs)
Royals' top hitters
Alex Gordon (.266, 19 HRs, 74 RBIs), Lorenzo Cain (.301, 50 RBIs, 28 SBs), Salvador Perez (.260, 17 HRs, 70 RBIs)
Angels' top pitchers
Jered Weaver (18-9, 3.59 ERA, 169 SO), Matt Shoemaker (16-4, 3.04 ERA, 1.07 WHIP), Huston Street (41 Sv, 1.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP)
Royals' top pitchers
James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA, 180 SO), Danny Duffy (9-12, 2.53 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), Greg Holland (46 Sv, 1.44 ERA, 90 SO)
The loss of righthander Garrett Richards to a knee injury could hurt the Halos, but it shouldn't be too detrimental as Los Angeles looks to advance. The AL West champions have a superior lineup with game-changing hitters in Trout and Pujols. The Royals do not.
Kansas City is a scrappy team, and teams like that often find magic in October. They have enough pitching to get by as long as the hitters come through in the right spots.
However, this is the Angels' series to lose, and they won't. The Royals could make it interesting before bowing to the Angels in five.