Coming that way, we asked ESPN’s baseball coverage team to race again on the remaining teams, largely because of their win in the wild-card series as we learned about them. Senior baseball writer David Sconfield has a contribution with an evaluation of what has changed for each team, and what remains to be seen – but the division could prove significant in the series.
What has changed: Nothing more. They remain the team to beat with the best lineup, best rotation, possibly best bullpen and perhaps best defense. After throwing eight shutout innings with 13 strikes against Milwaukee, Clayton Kershaw can be drawn to the monster postseason run we’ve been waiting for for the past eight years.
What We Didn’t Learn: Okay, let’s be honest, that Kershaw beat Brewers lineup was probably the worst playoff lineup. The clean hitter batted seven times all season, including one hit. He pinched a man who had not batted in all seasons. As good as Karshava was, he would face a very difficult lineup in the Padres. We did not get a real clear picture of Walker Buehler’s blister problems. He scored four innings and scored eight runs, but also allowed a two-run home run and was removed after 73 pitches.
What has changed: For those who didn’t pay much attention to the Rays in the regular season, the Blue Jays’ two-game sweep not only offered a glimpse of Blake Snell and Tyler Glasorn’s 1-2 punches, but also hard throws. The Balance – Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks. It becomes difficult to strategize against the Rays, with manager Kevin Cash using his relievers in any defined order. Anderson has been the best in the regular season, but not necessarily close – he entered the seventh inning in Game 1 with Fairbanks, who did not have a save in the regular season, saving. Snell (no runs, 5 (nine K in innings) and Glasgow (two runs, eight K in six innings) was outstanding, a scary thought for the Yankees.
What We Didn’t Learn: Is this really the World Series-caliber lineup? Yes, he knocked out Hyun-jin Ryu, but the three home runs he hit in the series came from Mike Zunino (.147 in the regular season), Hunter Renfro (.156) and Manuel Margot (another run). You are unlikely to get consistent production to move past those three, so let’s see if the lineup can make a move against the Yankees. One potential breakout star is outfielder Randy Ajornaina, who batted 641 in 64 at-bats in the regular season and went 4-for-8 with three extra-base hits against the Blue Jays.
What has changed: The bull can be a lot better than we realize. San Diego started with only 4ings in the first two games and went with a bullpen game in Game 3 – they used seven relievers in Game 1, eight in Game 2 and nine relievers in Game 3 for a shutout. Be combined Even the seventh, eighth and ninth pitches can present problems; Tim Hill is a tricky left-handed cider, and crooks Adrian Morjon and Luis Patino have big-time weapons.
What We Didn’t Learn: If they can win a long series without Dilsen Lemet and Mike Clevinger – let alone a series against the Dodgers. Lamet is more likely to be active, but the Padres are also hoping for Clevinger, who has pitching in only one inning since September. 13. He will obviously need a better outing from Chris Paddack and Zach Davis, and Garrett Richards will probably draw one to start, especially if Lamet can’t go. But expect Jayce Tingler to get into his bullpen early and often and take advantage of these extended 28-man playoff rosters.
What has changed: It has been a roller coaster for the Yankees throughout the season. They were great earlier, outscoring 16-6. Then they were terrible, falling to 21-21. Then he was great again, winning 10 in a row. Then they went awry again, when they finished 2-6. Now they are great again after hammering Shane Bieber and the barbarous Cleveland pitching staff in two games.
What We Didn’t Learn: The two-game series did not test the depth of the Yankees’ pitching staff. Masahiro Tanaka is clutch in October via a 2.70 (Poston ERA), but the Indians scored six runs in four innings. It is notable that the bullpen is not quite as deep as it has been in recent seasons. Aaron Boone had to call Jonathan Losiga at a pivotal moment in Game 2 and he allowed one hit and two walks while just one out to blow a lead.
What has changed: Ian Anderson looks like a real-deal No. 2 starter behind Max Fried. Anderson posted a 1.95 ERA in six starts, and while he was a top-rated prospect (he was the third overall pick in the 2016 draft), his track record of 32ings innings in the regular season was fairly limited. He was superb against the Reds with six brilliant innings, allowing just two hits with nine strikes. Their repertoire is unusual in this day and age, with a low-spin fastball and a low-spin curlball, but they lead to very soft contact.
What We Didn’t Learn: Okay, Fried and Anderson looked great, but that’s what the Braves do after the two who can determine how deep they go in the postseason. Kyle Wright is the prospect No. 3 starter and has a 5.21 ERA (although he finished with a good pairing). After that, it can be a complete reliever – but the Braves also show that they have a lot of depth in that area and if the series goes the distance, they might be able to get in with some bull play Huh.
What has changed: He won an elimination game! The A’s consistently lost the famous nine do or die games and lost six straight playoff series / wild-card games since winning the 2006 ALDS. Getting ahead of the White Sox is a huge psychological lift for this team. They should win the season 7-3 and include Astro in a confident Houston series with just 2.5 runs per game.
What We Didn’t Learn: Is there really enough crime here? The A’s hit .194 in three matches against the White Sox and were originally handed a Game 3 by a slap White Sox bullpen that could not throw the ball at the plate. Without the injured Matt Chapman, Matt Olson is a big power source in the lineup, but he hit .195 in the regular season and went 0-for-9 with six strikes against the White Sox.
What has changed: Even without Justin Verlander, the Astros may have the starting pitching depth to make a long run in the playoffs. In Game 1 against the Twins, Framber Valdez came on a relief from Zac Grink and led five scoreless innings. In Game 2, Jose Arquidi gave up one run in 4ings innings and then Christian Xavier came in and scored three scoreless innings. He also has Lance Macular Jr., so it will be interesting to see if Dusty Baker plans to use him as the only five starters, or if he uses Valdez and Xavier again in relief and gets there. But the game concerns 4 and 5.
What We Didn’t Learn: If the offense is about to kick it into gear. The Astros hit .194 with two wins, two extra-base hits on the twins. Jose Altuve continues to look like a mess, with a lot of off-balance swings all but fading (he went 0-for-7). Bats Bats? Don’t know atomizer? Last year, Astro hit .285 / .377 / .541 against a fastball (the second-largest WOBA in the Major). This year, he hit .252 / .329 / .465 (22nd). He also struggled in his 10 games against the A’s, as noted above, scoring two runs or fewer seven times.
What has changed: The slipper may have been fitted. The Marlins are now 7–0 in franchise history in the playoff series. Okay, he scored in only two of 18 innings against Schaub (five runs in the seventh inning in Game 1 and two in the seventh inning of Game 2), but he faced two good starting pitches. Also, hitting on time is a key for all those seasons. He hit .244 overall, but .273 with runners in scoring position and .259 in high-leverage situations.
What We Didn’t Learn: Does Miami have enough pitching depth? Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez were very good against the Panchalas Cubs lineup, but the Marlins did not have to go deep in their crews, using just six pitches in two games. Pablo Lopez is a solid No. 3, but things go awry after that and Penn is trusting a lot. Let us see what happens when the mighty brave have to face these people for the second time or when they have to pitch for two or three consecutive days.