Wyatt Cushman, Staff Writer |
The Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season has come to a close, which means that playoff baseball is upon us. October is a wonderful time for baseball fans. Baseball in October is just different from what it is in August or September: every game is so important, magnifying each and every pitch and swing.
This year, there are multiple teams that have a legitimate chance at claiming a World Series title. The Los Angeles Dodgers had the best record in the MLB during the regular season, and arguably have the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. They also have the runaway favorite for National League (NL) Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger, on their team. While Kershaw has struggled in the postseason throughout his career and Bellinger has limited experience, this team still has a good chance to advance deep into October.
The Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies round out the rest of the field in the NL this postseason. These teams all have something that gives their fans a reason to be optimistic. The Nationals rotation is one of the best in baseball, and that alone can allow you to play deep into the postseason. The Cubs, as the defending champs, know what it takes to win it all. Everyone knows experience can play a big role when it comes to big time games. The winner of the NL Wild Card game will be a familiar opponent to the waiting Dodgers as both the Diamondbacks and Rockies reside in the NL West with Los Angeles. This should provide for an entertaining series among rivals.
In the American League (AL), the favorite to advance to the World Series is the Cleveland Indians. Their starting pitching is the best in the majors, headlined by Cy Young Award favorite, Corey Kluber. After facing their impressive starting pitching, opposing teams will need to battle their even more impressive bullpen. Players like Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Tyler Olsen all put up incredible numbers this season and the only thing that could stop them is possible injuries. The people of Cleveland are crossing their fingers hoping something like that doesn’t happen.
Just like the NL, the AL has a few teams that have a chance to beat out Cleveland for this year’s pennant. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will begin a series starting on October 5. The Astros have two dominant pitchers in Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander and have possible MVP Jose Altuve, who batted .346 this season. There’s always a chance for your team when you have a player like Altuve and two former Cy Young Award winners. The Red Sox may not be the favorite to win this series and they may not have a better team on paper, but their fans are hoping their lineup can grind out a few runs and that their ace Chris Sale can dominate the Astros lineup more than once in this series. Sale struck out 308 batters this season and if he gets hot, then this team will be very dangerous.
The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins played an epic game this past Tuesday in the American League Wild Card game, with the Yankees moving on after a thrilling 8-4 victory. The Twins came out of the gate hot, chasing Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino out of the game after just 1/3 of an inning, tagging him for three runs on two dingers. The Yankees responded in the bottom of the frame with a three-run shot of their own, courtesy of Didi Gregorious. Brett Gardner contributed a solo shot and likely Rookie of the Year and possible MVP Aaron Judge added a two-run home run later on, giving the bullpen all of the breathing room they needed. The Yankees now get to face the hottest team in baseball, the Indians, in the ALDS.
If this postseason is as good as last year’s, then everyone watching is in for a real treat. There are so many teams that have a legitimate chance at winning it all, which makes fans of every team excited. There will be disappointment and heartbreak, but for one team, after 11 (or 12) wins this postseason, the trophy and the glory will be all theirs.