Story Lines from First Weekend of MLB Postseason

American League Playoffs

1) Acquiring David Price cannot be deemed a success

The Blue Jays entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in baseball due to their impeccable offensive firepower and Cy Young candidate David Price as their ace. Although the offense has not been the same as the regular season, averaging two runs per game less, the biggest reason why the Jays are facing elimination is David Price. During the trading deadline, Price was the biggest fish in the sea and the Jays traded valuable prospects for the former Cy Young winner. Even though he was by far the Jays best pitcher in the second half, 9-1 2.30 ERA, he could not meet expectations by allowing five runs over 7 innings and recording the loss. The Jays hoped that Price could resemble Madison Bumgarner from last season and lead their iffy rotation to a championship. If the Rangers are able to end the series in game 3, the Jays would have traded too much of their future for only 1 lackluster postseason start.

2. Texas Rangers are legitimate, underrated championship contenders

During spring training, many believed that the Rangers were destined to finish last in the AL West, especially after ace Yu Darvish went down for the season. Due to injuries from the previous season, the entire rotation was in shambles and lacked front end starting pitching. However, Jeff Banister did an incredible job with the team and they now believe that they can win a World Series. The Rangers are extraordinarily dangerous because they can win in many different ways. After acquiring Cole Hamels, the Rangers have a deep veteran staff that has pitched in the postseason, Gallardo and Lewis. On offense, they have been the team that has received contributions from all over the lineup, like third base replacement Hanser Alberto.

3) Kansas City Royals lack the starting pitching to win

The acquisition of Johnny Cueto at the deadline was suppose to end the Royals search for a front end and add depth to the weakest part of their team. However, the pitching has worsened and Cueto has been a disaster in the royal blue. Through the first two games, nothing has changed as Cueto and Verdano Ventura has allowed 7 runs over 8 innings of work. Although the offense is dangerous with very good hitters throughout the lineup, they will not be able to make up for their starting pitching. In addition, the Royals bullpen will be unable to remain effective if they are required to pitching more than 3 innings each game.

4) Colby Rasmus is channeling his best Carlos Beltran impersonation

During the regular season, Rasmus had a quality season with a .240 average with 25 home runs and 61 RBIs. Through the first three games, Rasmus has been the MVP of the playoffs with 3 home runs, 5 RBI, .444 average, and 14 total bases. The Astros have not seen this performance in the playoffs since Carlos Beltran lead them to the NLCS with 8 home runs and 14 RBI. Although the Stros have many capable offensive weapons, they will need Rasmus to maintain his hot streak to outscore the equally talented Royals.

National League Playoffs

1) John Lackey maintains his dominance in the postseason

Even though Lackey is nearly 40 years old and has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, he has always been a great postseason pitcher, which has netted him 2 World Series rings. During Game 1, Lackey was able to shut down one of the best offenses in baseball. Since Jaime Garcia left early in Game 2, Lackey could pitch on short rest in Game 4, but nobody should question his desire for the ball or ability to produce.  Due to the youth and relative inexperience of the Cardinals’ staff, it will be necessary for Lackey to assume the role as ace if he is going to add another ring.

2) Jake Arrieta could be this season’s Madison Bumgarner

After pitching one of the best games in MLB postseason history against the Pirates, like Bumgarner, he will be starting the biggest game of his career in Wrigley during Game 3. However, we have no reason to believe why Arrieta will not put together another masterpiece on Monday. Arrieta is statistically having the most dominant second half in the history of MLB with an ERA under 0.75. Since August 15th, Arrieta has allowed accumulated more shutouts than earned runs. Even though the Cardinals are an elite hitting team, he has allowed 2 runs or fewer while pitching 6 2/3 innings in 3 of his 4 starts this season against the club. Arrieta has the potential to be like Bumgarner because he is one of the best strikeout artists and has the trust from his manager to complete games.

3) Mets’ starting staff has been as good as advertised

During the first two games of the series, Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndagaard have totaled 13.1 innings pitched, 22 strikeouts, and only 3 earned runs. Although the Dodgers were suppose to have the advantage at home with Kershaw and Greinke, the Mets’ started equalled their counterparts and kept the series tied at 1 going into Flushing. While the Dodgers’ starting rotation will experience a massive drop off to number three starter Brett Anderson, the Mets will improve by starting the Dark Knight, Matt Harvey, in game three. Although Harvey has been involved in controversy over his innings limit, he is one of the best starters in baseball and has the temperament to start the first postseason game in Citi Field and the first home game for the Mets in 9 years.

4) Clayton Kershaw may only be a 6 inning postseason pitcher

Like last season’s performance against the Cardinals, Kershaw pitched a great game until the seventh inning. In the seventh inning last season, Kershaw allowed a home run to Matt Adams. This season, Kershaw again unraveled in the 7th inning as he allowed two runs. Although they may seem small,  the Dodgers were not going to score three runs against Jacob DeGrom. If Kershaw could have kept the game at 1-0, they would likely have tied the game in the 8th against the Mets’ bullpen. This will be a major problem for the Dodgers in the future because they need to win everyone of Kershaw and Greinke’s start to win the World Series due to their lack of rotation depth. In addition, they need the two starters to give them length since their middle relief does not scare opposing offenses.