Cleveland is feeling good about the Indians’ World Series chances, and so are The Washington Post’s baseball writers. (David Maxwell/Getty Images)

With the MLB postseason set to get underway with Tuesday night’s wild-card game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, it’s time once again to bother our panel of baseball experts for their official predictions.

Did the Cleveland Indians’ MLB record 22-game winning streak cinch their status as title favorites? Or could the Chicago Cubs go back-to-back? Will this be the year the Nationals get out of the division series? Could they sniff the World Series? Or will the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros crash the party?

Check out our writers’ brackets below and tell us what you’re expecting in the comments.

Dave Sheinin, national MLB reporter


(Dave Sheinin’s bracket)

Wild cards

NL: Diamondbacks over Rockies

Arizona has the better starting pitcher (Zack Greinke), played better baseball down the stretch and was 52-29 this year at home.

AL: Yankees over Twins

Twins starter Ervin Santana’s career numbers against the Yankees: 6-10, 5.66 ERA. Yankees are 51-30 at home this year, 20-9 overall since Sept. 1.

Division series

NLDS: Diamondbacks over Dodgers in 4

The Diamondbacks went 6-0 head-to-head versus Dodgers in August/September and can throw Robbie Ray twice and Zack Greinke once in a five-game series.

NLDS: Cubs over Nationals in 5

Despite rotation questions, the Cubs were the best team in the NL in the second half (49-25). And the last regular-season turn through Nats’ rotation was one giant uh-oh.

ALDS: Indians over Yankees in 3

Cleveland’s record-setting 22-game win streak included an emphatic sweep at Yankee Stadium, and the Indians have only gotten healthier since.

ALDS: Astros over Red Sox in 5

Houston closed the regular season by winning three of four at Fenway Park, but it’s the addition of Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06 ERA since August trade) that tilts this series in the Astros’ favor.

Championship series

NLCS: Cubs over Diamondbacks in 7

The Cubs’ offense was relentless in the second half, as shown by these OPS figures: Willson Contreras, .993; Kris Bryant, .968; Anthony Rizzo, .906; Kyle Schwarber, .894; Javier Baez, .851; Addison Russell, .839. If anyone can wear down Arizona’s stellar starting pitching, it’s them. Meantime, Jon Lester’s strong finish to the regular season has eased some of the concerns about the Cubs’ rotation.

ALCS: Indians over Astros in 5

What emerged from the Indians’ record winning streak was the fact that they are virtually without flaw. Okay, maybe their outfield defense is a little ragged, especially if they keep the Jason Kipnis experiment going in center field. But that’s it. Doesn’t matter who they are facing; they are the best team in baseball, and we haven’t even seen Andrew Miller at his best.

World Series: Indians over Cubs in 5

Think of it this way: The Indians came excruciatingly close to winning it all a year ago, lost almost no one of consequence from their 2016 roster, added Edwin Encarnacion, got Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA this year) back from injury and improved by eight regular-season wins. The rotation is better, the offense is more prolific, the bullpen is just as deep and the manager, Terry Francona, is still the best the game.

Adam Kilgore, national sports reporter


(Adam Kilgore’s bracket)

Wild cards

AL: Yankees over Twins

The Twins’ magical run won’t be a match for the Yankees’ monstrous bullpen.

NL: Rockies over Diamondbacks

Jon Gray has been a star in the second half, and the baseball world will find out Wednesday night.

Division series

ALDS: Indians over Yankees in 4

The Indians have lost just four of 30 games since Sept. 1. The Yankees are supposed to beat them three times in five? Aaron Judge proved he can be pitched to, and the Indians have the arms to find his holes.

ALDS: Astros over Red Sox in 3

The Red Sox need Chris Sale to be superhuman, but he was average down the stretch: The league slugged .481 against him over his final seven starts. Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel are surging. David Price could be a unique weapon out of the bullpen, but Houston’s rotation and lineup will render him moot.

NLDS: Nationals over Cubs in 4

The Cubs’ experience and recent surge – 19-9 in September – make them a scary opponent. Stephen Strasburg will be too good, and Jake Arrieta’s injury seems more troubling than Max Scherzer’s. Trea Turner, who single-handedly got Miguel Montero DFA’d from the Cubs in the regular season, will menace Chicago pitchers on the bases.

NLDS: Dodgers over Rockies in 5

The Rockies should blow away the Dodgers’ starting pitcher in a couple of games, especially in Coors Field. Ultimately, Los Angeles’s depth, Clayton Kershaw and Colorado having to exhaust Jon Gray in the wild-card game will be the difference.

Championship series

ALCS: Indians over Astros in 5

Mercy, there will be some talent in this series. Francisco Lindor versus Carlos Correa is a preview of the future of the American League. Cleveland has a clear edge in the bullpen, and it will push the Indians back to the World Series.

NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers in 6

The Nationals outscored the Dodgers in last year’s NLDS. The Dodgers are the better regular season team, but the Nationals have the advantage in a short series. Alex Wood will give the Nationals fits out of the bullpen, but he’ll run out of bullets as the Nationals’ deep lineup wears down the Dodgers’ fading rotation behind Kershaw.

World Series: Indians over Nationals in 7

It would be a classic. The Nationals are ideally suited to play in an American League park, with Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick making a formidable DH platoon. But the Indians have the versatility and defense to play any kind of game, too. The Nationals are an arm short – the lack of a dependable bridge from the fifth to Kintzler, Madson and Doolittle will doom them at some point. The Indians have been the best team all season, and this year they won’t fall one game short of their first World Series since 1948.

Barry Svrluga, sports columnist


(Barry Svrluga’s bracket)

Wild cards

AL: Yankees over Twins

In mid-September, when the Twins had the chance to put pressure on the Yankees and make this a home game at Target Field, they dropped three straight at Yankee Stadium by the combined score of 18-6. Minnesota right-hander Erwin Santana has a 1.90 ERA in his past four starts, and no AL team scored more runs in the second half than the Twins. But Yankees right-hander Luis Severino held opponents to a .142 average and .423 OPS in September. He’s better, and New York is better.

NL: Diamondbacks over Rockies

In 19 meetings this year, Arizona outscored Colorado by 32 runs, and the Diamondbacks have the pitcher better prepared for this moment. Yes, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray has a 2.64 ERA over his past 13 starts. But this is why Arizona signed Zack Greinke, who has allowed opposing hitters a .186 average in his past six postseason starts.

Division series

ALDS: Astros over Red Sox in 4

Boston ace Chris Sale has been woefully inconsistent – alternating three starts in which he allowed zero runs with three starts in which he allowed 12. Sale gave up nine homers in April, May and June combined. He allowed nine homers in September alone. The Astros scored more runs than any team in baseball, and they have Justin Verlander (1.65 ERA in his past 12 starts) pitching like an ace. Easy choice.

ALDS: Indians over Yankees in 4

It would be great to get Aaron Judge on this stage so we can see what a 52-homer rookie looks like in the playoffs. But maybe it would also expose the rest of the country to how good the Indians are. New York’s rotation isn’t deep enough to contend with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. Plus, Yankees fans may look at lefty reliever Andrew Miller and wonder, “Why can’t we get someone like him?”

NLDS: Diamondbacks over Dodgers in 5

There’s so much to like about the Dodgers, from shortstop Corey Seager to slugger Cody Bellinger to heart-and-soul Justin Turner to ace Clayton Kershaw. And yet, Arizona won its last six games against L.A. Yes, these were during the Dodgers’ swoon, but Arizona also has a better No. 2 starter in all-star Robbie Ray (vs. Los Angeles’s Yu Darvish), a bullpen that can compete and the best second-half hitter in baseball in J.D. Martinez (29 homers in 62 games with the Diamondbacks).

NLDS: Nationals over Cubs in 5

Chicago right-hander Jake Arrieta (2.26 ERA, .206 batting average against over 14 starts) has pitched like an ace lately. But lefty Jon Lester (5.17 ERA, .287 average against in same span) has not. Yes, the Cubs scored more runs than any team after the all-star break, but they can’t match Washington’s two-headed monster of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg – and Trea Turner could run wild against a Cubs staff that has trouble holding runners.

Championship series

ALCS: Indians over Astros in 6

A good measure of Houston’s offensive depth: The Astros led all of baseball in scoring, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage – yet didn’t have a single player drive in 100 runs. But Cleveland has a clear advantage here in its deep and dangerous bullpen, which had baseball’s best ERA and features Miller (1.44 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings) and closer Cody Allen (2.85 ERA, 92 in 67 1/3). The Astros have no answer for that.

NLCS: Nationals over Diamondbacks in 6

Though the Nationals’ offense went from the best in the league early in the season to merely average, October will present the lineup in its full glory for the first time since June, with Turner, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth back from injuries. Washington’s bullpen, miserable for so long, was shored up by the additions of Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler – and posted the NL’s third-best ERA in the second half. Arizona’s bullpen, though, is susceptible, with a 4.17 ERA since the break. Plus, again: Scherzer and Strasburg > Greinke and Ray.

World Series: Indians over Nationals in 6

There would be star power in this series: Kluber vs. Scherzer, Harper vs. the world, Turner vs. Francisco Lindor, the mesmerizing shortstop of the Indians. Two things, though, give Cleveland the edge. First, the power in the Indians’ bullpen is what wins in October; Indians relievers averaged 9.84 strikeouts per nine innings in the second half, while the Nats had a more modest 8.76. Secondly – and call this a sense – Cleveland’s experience in winning the pennant last year, plus its commitment to fundamentally sound baseball, is a significant advantage. Only one team in baseball made fewer errors than the Indians. One groundball not retrieved, one throw not made, could decide a series like this.

Thomas Boswell, sports columnist


(Thomas Boswell’s bracket)

Wild cards

ALYankees over Twins

Because they are much better. However, the Twins good hitters have been hot for a month and veteran Ervin Santana (16-8) is a good old pro. This could be a one-game shocker that KOs the Yanks.

NLDiamondbacks over Rockies

Once again, the wild-card crap shoot. D’backs are better, have Zack Greinke ready. So what? Hold your breath. The entire postseason may pivot on this game. Arizona can beat the Dodgers in the next round. The Rockies, who play them well, probably can’t.

Division series

ALDSAstros over Red Sox in 5

Justin Verlander, in two starts if needed, is a huge boost for Astros morale and confidence in ownership to spend to make a serious run. Boston has a drop in starter quality after fabulous Chris Sale. Also, I’m rooting. Houston, after its hurricane disaster, is a sentimental pick.

ALDSIndians over Yankees in 4

The wild-card winner has an unfair advantage because the No. 1 seed always has a multiday layoff to ice its bats. The wild-card winner comes in psyched up and with only one day off. Still, the Indians are far deeper with better pitching and experience. And the layoff in the AL is only three days this year. Cleveland deserves another shot at the World Series after last year’s historically gritty showing with a battered depleted roster.

NLDSDiamondbacks over Dodgers in 4

This is the trendy upset pick but it’s also logical, if the playoffs can be logical. The D’backs beat Los Angeles 11-8 in the season, outscored them by 29 runs head-to-head and dominated them in the last two series. It’s hard to forget 1-16. The Dodgers, unfortunately, will remember.

NLDSNationals over Cubs in 4

So clooooooose. The winner of this series will beat the D’backs and go to the World Series. Washington needs to flip it’s ’12-’14-’16 memories fast. If they do, this could be a replay of ’05 when Red Sox, after reversing “the Curse” in ’04 where swept in first round by White Sox. The longer it goes, the more “Cubs” it’ll get. The winner here will catch a break  — the very good but not great D’backs — and ride that good fortune to the World Series.

Championship series

ALCS: Indians over Astros in 5

I’d rather pick the Tribe and be wrong than pick against them and be ashamed of myself because they so clearly deserve to be in Series after their historic 27-1 streak. In the last 22 years, the average World Series winner has a postseason record of 11-4. The champ almost never has a hard time in more than one series. The other two it dominates. Young darling Astros get tromped.

NLCS: Nationals over Diamondbacks in 7

This is the best eight-deep field — where everybody can beat anybody — in at least 20 years. By now, everybody’s bracket should be blown up. So, I’ll take the Dodgers over the Cubs in this one. Oh, I already eliminated them both? Nats’ Kintzler-Madson-Doolittle pen prevails over the D’backs, who, other than super setup man Archie Bradley, are suspect. Yes, the Nats go to the World Series because of their bullpen.

World Series: Indians over Nationals in 6

Depth of Cleveland starting rotation and bullpen, too, will wear down Nats and turn the Series. Las Vegas says the odds against this actually being the final World Series pairing are 25-1. But then the odds of any specific pairing are terrible. Before the season I liked Cleveland over the Nats, assuming Washington fixed its bullpen. They did. And my coin flip method just did the whole bracket and came out that way, too. So, I’m going with it.

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