Now that the MLB wildcard games are out of the way, the remaining eight-team postseason bracket is officially set. In the American League, the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers will take on the AL East-winning Baltimore Orioles, and the wildcard Kansas City Royals will battle the AL West champ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the National League, it’s the St. Louis Cardinals from the Central against the Los Angeles Dodgers from the West on one side, and the East’s Washington Nationals against the wildcard Giants on the other.
Here’s what you need to know about each of the four best-of-five divisional series, from what to watch for to when, how, and where to watch.
ALDS: Detroit Tigers versus Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have home-field advantage in this series, finishing the regular season with 96 wins to Detroit’s 90. However, Baltimore is without Manny Machado (injury), Matt Wieters (injury), or Chris Davis (suspension), which makes the Orioles’ road to the ALCS more difficult. The Tigers need big performances from a potentially dominant rotation: Cy Young winners Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and David Price (respectively) get the ball in the first three games. Will Baltimore’s Buck Showalter be able to outmaneuver counterpart and first-year manager Brad Ausmus in the latter innings of close games?
Game 1: Thursday, October 2, 5:37 p.m. ET at Baltimore (TBS)
Game 2: Friday, October 3, 12:07 p.m. ET at Baltimore (TBS)
Game 3: Sunday, October 5, 3:45 p.m. ET at Detroit (TBS)
Game 4 (if necessary): Monday, October 6, time TBD at Detroit (TBS)
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, October 8, time TBD at Baltimore (TBS)
ALDS: Kansas City Royals versus Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels had the best record in baseball during the regular season, winning 98 of their 162 games. They’ll have home-field advantage against the upstart Royals, who are making their first playoff appearance since 1985 and trailed 7-3 in the eighth inning against Oakland on Tuesday before rallying to advance. Kansas City is known for “small ball,” so look for plenty more bunts and steals if the Royals are going to upset L.A. On the other hand, the Angels have offensive firepower to spare, leading the majors in runs scored this year. Kansas City had to use ace James Shields in the wildcard game, so can the new-look Royals rotation shut down the bats of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and company?
Game 1: Thursday, October 2, 9:07 p.m. ET at Los Angeles (TBS)
Game 2: Friday, October 3, 9:37 p.m. ET at Los Angeles (TBS)
Game 3: Sunday, October 5, 7:37 p.m. ET at Kansas City (TBS)
Game 4 (if necessary): Monday, October 6, time TBD at Kansas City (TBS)
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, October 8, time TBD at Los Angeles (TBS)
NLDS: San Francisco Giants versus Washington Nationals
The Giants have won eight straight postseason games after a wildcard win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but that streak will be hard to extend against the formidable pitching staff of the Washington Nationals. First-year Nats manager Matt Williams will trot out a rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister in the first three games, the best among a group of five pitchers that finished with double-digit wins in 2014. Zimmermann threw a no-hitter in the regular-season finale Sunday, and this group is in fine form across the board. The Giants have the playoff experience to lean on after World Series championships in 2010 and 2012, and that’s not the only reason Game 2 starter Tim Hudson likes his team’s chances.
Game 1: Friday, October 3, 3:07 p.m. ET at Washington (Fox Sports 1)
Game 2: Saturday, October 4, 5:37 p.m. ET at Washington (Fox Sports 1)
Game 3: Monday, October 6, time TBD at San Francisco (MLB Network)
Game 4 (if necessary): Tuesday, October 7, time TBD at San Francisco (Fox Sports 1)
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, October 9, time TBD at Washington (Fox Sports 1)
NLDS: St. Louis Cardinals versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Only three pitchers in the National League won at least 20 games this season. Two of them, St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright and Los Angeles star Clayton Kershaw, face off in an all-important Game 1 on Friday at Dodger Stadium. The must-see pitching showdown will set the tone for the rest of this series as the Cardinals and Dodgers meet in the postseason for a second consecutive year. St. Louis eliminated L.A. in six games in last year’s NLCS, but this year it’s the Dodgers that boast the better regular-season record. A big series from baseball’s RBI leader, Adrian Gonzalez (116 runs batted in) could help Los Angeles advance. A win or two from Kershaw wouldn’t hurt, either.
Game 1: Friday, October 3, 6:37 p.m. ET at Los Angeles (Fox Sports 1)
Game 2: Saturday, October 4, 9:37 p.m. ET at Los Angeles (MLB Network)
Game 3: Monday, October 6, time TBD at St. Louis (Fox Sports 1)
Game 4 (if necessary): Tuesday, October 7, time TBD at St. Louis (Fox Sports 1)
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, October 9, time TBD at Los Angeles (Fox Sports 1)