Derek Jambor ‘20, News Editor
After a long 162 games, the MLB postseason is finally upon us. Twelve teams who have proven that they are willing to compete for a World Series championship will face off in the next month. Here is a preview of some of the teams who will be competing for the championship and why they could win or lose.
Atlanta Braves (97-65 regular season record)
Overview: The Braves built off their 2018 playoff berth with an outstanding 2019 season. Their 97 wins were the highest for the team since 2003.
How they can win: This is a more balanced unit than the team that entered the 2018 postseason. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit 40 homers and stole 37 bases. Mike Soroka, at 22, so just a year older than Acuña, lost just four of his 29 starts. With veterans like first baseman Freddie Freeman, third baseman Josh Donaldson and pitcher Dallas Keuchel, the Braves are a pennant contender and have all the pieces for a perfect outcome.
How they can lose: The Braves traded for two relievers, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, to fortify a shaky bullpen, and neither of them were very consistent. Melancon improved in September and did not allow a run over his final seven appearances, but the pitching staff is not a trustworthy connection.
Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56 regular season record)
Overview: The Dodgers exceeded their lofty standards by setting a franchise record with 106 wins. They remain the class of the National League and are heavy favorites to return to the World Series for the third consecutive year. Sophomore Quinn Farcassi said, “I think they are this year’s front runner. They have elite pitching and hitting. They will be a tough team to beat this time around.”
How they can win: The Dodgers won 106 games because of their ability to find production out of untested rookies and utility players. They do not only possess an elite offense and pitching staff their incredible depth offsets the injuries and poor performances that often derail other teams.
How they can lose: Closer Kenley Jansen was once one of baseball’s most trusted relief pitchers, but compiled the worst season of his career in 2019. If manager Dave Roberts doesn’t trust him in close games, he will have to enlist pitchers who lack Jansen’s playoff experience.
New York Yankees (103-59 regular season record)
Overview: Might go down as one of the most powerful teams assembled, the New York Yankees were the kings of the long ball. With power from Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees are the most dangerous team when they come to the plate this postseason.
How they can win: Much like the Twins, their opponents in the Divisional Series, the Yankees crush the ball. Minnesota set a MLB record this season with 307 home runs, the Yankees hit 306. And that was despite getting just 18 games from one of the game’s most feared power hitters, Giancarlo Stanton. In a season where the home run is king and great offenses are commonplace, the Yankees’ batting still stands out.
How they can lose: It is unknown how the Yankees plan on using their starting pitchers in the playoffs, primarily because none of them have been very reliable outside of game one starter James Paxton. The Yankees have the game’s best bullpen, but they risk overworking it without reliable performances from starters beyond Paxton and ace Luis Severino, who has started just three games this season due to injury. They are definitely going to need key guys to step up on the bump when the bats are not there.
Houston Astros (107-55 regular season record)
Overview: The Astros are not simply a great team; they have built a powerhouse through meticulous research, expert player development and savvy acquisitions. They set a franchise record with 107 wins this season and are expected by most pundits to win their second championship in three years. Senior Corbin Rundgren said, “Growing up right outside of Houston I am going to be cheering for them all postseason. They have all the elements to do great things; I am just hoping our bats heat up at the right time.”
How they can win: It is nearly impossible to win four times in seven games against them when three elite pitchers Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are starting the first three games. If the pitching did not intimidate opposing teams enough, consider that the offense led every major statistical category except home runs and RBIs while logging the fewest strikeouts and the most walks.
How they can lose: Their bullpen lacks the firepower of some other teams, but it also seldom causes the team trouble. The Astros do not have any weaknesses, but need to be sure that their best players avoid slumping.
This year’s postseason is full of talent all across the board, and anybody can come out on top. It will all come down to who wants it more in the final inning of play.
Photo courtesy of USAtoday.com