MLB Playoff Preview

When you passed out on your couch after watching football for 8 hours last Sunday, you may have forgotten about another important event coming up. That’s right, with all the buzz about football in the air, the MLB playoffs have quietly crept up on us once again. This year, 12 teams are competing for the commissioner’s trophy thanks to the expanded format. Let’s meet the contestants.

(Illustration: Major League Baseball)

Tampa Bay Rays

While this team isn’t the juggernaut they were last year during the regular season, they still boast a lot of front-line talent that can carry the team deep into the playoffs. Arozarena is smacking the cover off the ball as of late, and the rest of the team is surging to get them back into the playoffs. They have a lot of question marks, but they probably have the easiest road to the World Series out of any of the wild card teams, as they will not be running into Houston until the ALCS should they make it there.


Seattle Mariners

I wouldn’t call about 20 years too long of a wait. With the Seahawks mired in mediocrity, the Emerald City needs a new team to step forth and take the mantle as the city’s perennial contender. Enter the Mariners, a team that was infused with young talent this offseason and has taken the league by storm. They’re on a torrid hot streak, but let’s see how they do when they aren’t playing Oakland every five days.


Toronto Blue Jays

The rebuild is over. The Blue Jays are back in the playoffs and ready to make noise. Their old core is gone but has been rebuilt with the likes of Vlad Guererro, Bo Bichette, and legendary Astros trashcan banger George Springer. Toronto finally seems to care about them again and the Rogers center is rocking even on weeknights. This might be the year they pull another deep playoff run out and capture the eyes of more than just the immediate city. Might help draw attention away from the Maple Leafs and their choking for a couple of months.


Cleveland Guardians

Normally, in normal circumstances, I would be chastizing the AL Central for being as weak as ever and scoffing at the winner’s World Series ambitions. However, this year is different. The Guardians are a legit contender for the first time in five years. Their bats are godlike, their pitching hasn’t betrayed them, and Terry Francona has done an excellent job so far. They may have won their division to clinch home field for the wild card round, but they face a tough challenge in the Rays. Remember the last time they played in the wild card? Cleveland certainly does. Further this Cinderella story by going out and getting some revenge. But only against Tampa, their divisional round opponent is unfortunately invincible and will sweep Cleveland should they win. Speaking of which…


New York Yankees

Imagine a hypothetical house fire that burns everything on the inside but leaves no damage to the naked eye. That is the Yankees this season. They have once again won their division, but it hasn’t come without a slump rivaling Buffalo’s in the hockey realm. Their talent is undeniable, but my main concern is in Aaron Judge. Not that he’s going to fall off skill-wise, but that opposing teams will start pitching around him. Judge is the only consistent guy on this roster, the other 8 guys and the manager are trash. Hopefully, Gerrit Cole will keep his supply of illegal substances intact for the playoffs so that he keeps pitching like a god. Kyle Schwarber is not in the playoffs this year. Hopefully, that should make him play better. Unfortunately, though, these are the Yankees, and what do they do better than disappointing their fans with a collapse against the Astros in the ALCS? It’s par for the course. The only variable with this team is how they’re going to break my heart and make me rage this time around.


Houston Astros

Do you smell it in the air? The fragrance permeated throughout Minute Maid Park? HIGH. END. TALENT. All of that talent is dragging the city of Houston and Dusty Baker to another World Series come hell or high water. The unfortunate thing is that they will get exactly zero sympathy no matter what happens. If they win, then everyone will accuse them of cheating again and they will get no respect. If they somehow lose, 31 other fanbases will be justifiably dancing on their graves.

Philadelphia Phillies

Hooray, yet another Philly team in the playoffs, said no one ever. With the Eagles back to being good, we certainly don’t need another Philadelphia team increasing the city’s level of obnoxiousness. The good news for the rest of us is that the Phils are still very fragile. Harper has been carrying the squad these past few months, and he ain’t gonna carry them much longer. They will face a tough test in the Cardinals. But never say never.

San Diego Padres

Slam Diego is back in the playoffs. They may be down Tatis due to his use of PEDs, but Juan Soto has been raking so far throughout his tenure in San Diego. The road to the World Series is long and arduous, and the odds are stacked against them as they face the Mets on the road. Let’s see if they can get it done.


New York Mets

BEHOLD, YET ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL MET–ING OF A SEASON! You may ask why this is. The Mets have had a 100 win season, you say. Well, that season couldn’t even get them to win the division. A group that led the NL East for 98% of the season collapsed so hard in September that they got overtaken by the Braves, the highlight of the collapse being getting swept by them when one win in the series would all but win Queens the division. Now, instead of getting a first-round bye and some needed rest, they get a 3-game set against the Padres for all the playoff marbles. And if they win, they get the glorious reward of having the Dodgers waiting for them. For the sake of my well-being and the sanity of Yankee fans everywhere, I hope to god this team collapses into a sinkhole and doesn’t come out again. Their misery is good for business.

St. Louis Cardinals

Every year seems like it plays out the same for these guys. They are mediocre to start the year, they make next to no deadline moves, fans start calling for management to be fired, and then some random minor-leaguers get called up and start playing like all-stars. This year was no different, except that their torrid pace started before the deadline this year. True, it had a lot to do with the Brew Crew and Chicago imploding, but these guys have once again earned their spot with a combination of good structure and development and Albert Pujols’s willpower. Whether or not they go anywhere remains to be seen, but they will at least get a few home playoff games for fans to show up to. That’s at least a positive.


Atlanta Braves

For a while, it looked like all the off-season losses were taking their toll. The Braves were mediocre deep into May and June and showed no signs of change. Jorge Soler and Freddie Freeman? Gone. Then, they managed to turn it around. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are hitting at paces rivaled by few. They’ve been on a torrid hot streak to end the year, going on such a widespread rampage that they managed to usurp the Mets to claim their fifth straight division crown. They’re on the hottest streak out of anyone in the league, but they’ll have to contend with a mainstay in the NL hierarchy, a power that just got even stronger.


Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are once again ravaging the west coast with their power bats and ace pitching. We are all screwed as the big-market stereotype lives on. This year’s Dodgers team boasts some of the best talent they’ve seen in years. Bringing in Freddie Freeman bolstered their hitting core to the point that it launched them to the best record in baseball. The pitching hasn’t skipped a beat either. A punitive suspension on Trevor Bauer? No problem. Buehler and Kershaw can take the mantle with some of the best pitching of their careers. They’re going to have a tougher time than usual as they won’t get a cupcake opponent in the first round like every other year they’ve made it. For the sake of the rest of the NL’s sanity, I hope these guys get bounced in the first round. Even if they play the Mets.

World Series prediction

For a World Series prediction, I’d like to be unorthodox and pick an upstart team, but that’s not how the MLB works, the big market is king, Yankees vs Dodgers, we’re all screwed. Every baseball fan not in these two cities will melt down and rage about the top-heavy nature of the MLB. Sounds like a healthy and competitive league to me.


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