After an exciting Wild Card round to start the 2022 MLB playoffs, only eight teams are left fighting for a spot in the World Series.
With an extra round to start the playoffs and the possibility that this year’s Fall Classic will go to a Game 7 on Nov. 5, some teams spent very little time in October, and the last team standing could have the latest-ever championship celebration in MLB history.
Let’s take a look at how some of these teams look ahead of the matchups.
Cal Raleigh secured the Seattle’s playoff place and ended the franchise’s 21-year playoff drought with a thrilling walk-off home run that saw Seattle pull off a tremendous comeback to eliminate Toronto on Saturday. Perhaps fate is really on the Mariners’ side. If you’re looking for a baseball rationale, the bullpen is deep and ready for October. But they’ll need to score some runs, so here’s a fantasy scenario: Julio Rodriguez returns from a strained back that kept him out until the end of September and has a playoff to remember.
The Guardians’ style of play has attracted similarities to the 2014-15 Royals. This includes contact hitting, speed, defense as well as a great bullpen. Since the start of July, the bullpen has been even better, with the second-lowest ERA in the majors, behind only the LA Dodgers.
The Guardians have the fewest home runs among playoff teams, and hitting home runs is how you win in the playoffs.
Putting the ball in play and aggressively running the bases is the Guardians’ recipe for success in October. And not just against the Astros, but against everyone. With the Guardians home turf being Ohio, the Ohio sports betting launch will be a blast for fans!
The NY Yankees
Gerrit Cole’s role seems so important, particularly because Frankie Montas wasn’t the major rotation addition the Yankees anticipated. He’s striking out plenty of hitters, but he also leads the American League in home runs allowed, with 16 coming on his four-seam fastball. He must find out how to keep the ball in play.
The Astros were one of the few teams that could keep Judge in check, restricting him to a.148/.258/.370 slash line. Needless to say, Judge’s bat must shine in this prospective heavyweight clash. And the Yankees will have to play clean, error-free baseball.
The Astros’ catchers, M. Maldonado as well as Christian Vazquez, don’t contribute much. Meanwhile, Yuli Gurriel had a difficult season. The second trade addition, Trey Mancini, has hit under.200 for the Astros. Rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena’s stats have dropped in the second half. Simply, this squad just lacks the depth of some other previous Houston teams. Nevertheless, they could still win this one.
With a right-handed-heavy lineup led by Bregman and Altuve, the Astros feasted on left-handed pitching this season. Their finest batter, left-handed-hitting Alvarez, was also excellent versus lefties. It might mean the difference between two teams that are evenly matched.
Since September, Philadelphia’s bullpen has had a 5.04 ERA, which has been a major component of the team’s near-collapse down the stretch.
When the top of your roster is outstanding, you sometimes simply need your best players to perform to their ability. In 54 bat appearances this season, Harper and Schwarber combined for a 1.315 OPS against the Dodgers, yet Aaron Nola as well as Zack Wheeler allowed nine runs in 1713 innings. The Phillies have top-tier talent in those four players, as well as catcher J. Realmuto. They’ll need them to perform the majority of the hard lifting in order to overcome L.A in the upcoming baseball playoffs.
San Diego Padres
This season, the Padres battled severely against their Southern California rivals, losing 14 of 19 games and being outscored by a combined 62 runs. They’ll need Yu Darvish to be in top form in order to defeat the Dodgers. Soto as well as Manny Machado will need to be on top form. They’ll require Hader to be the closer they expect. They will also need the assistance of numerous others. Most importantly, they need to conjure some confidence ahead of the baseball playoffs.
The Braves’ rotation is more steady than it was a year ago. Braves and Dodgers have met in back-to-back NLCS series, splitting the two series, and they seem set to meet again. Outside of the Astros, the Braves may come the closest to duplicating the depth and balance of the Dodgers. It’s possible that their separator is in the bullpen. The Braves’ bullpen is as deep as it has ever been, and this gives them an obvious edge.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers’ explosive top-of-the-order trio is what sets them apart from everyone else, even the best. No other team can match their mix of bat-to-ball ability, power, and baserunning.
Beating the Astros on this baseball playoffs stage would be the ultimate retaliation, regardless of how much their rosters have evolved in the previous five years.