Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2020 postseason has finally arrived, unlike any other in recent history. The matchups are set between an expanded field of 16 teams all fighting for one goal, the commissioner’s trophy.
The MLB decided to add more teams to the playoffs this season, with the majority of the league being a part of the postseason. Fans have many thoughts on if this helps or hurts baseball and if it makes the postseason less competitive, adding weaker teams into the mix.
Allan Rendon, a senior exercise science major, expressed how he feels about the upcoming baseball season.
“It gives a lot of teams the opportunity to play,” Rendon said. “Some people are going to think this season doesn’t count, but sports are sports at the end of the day.”
The Wild Card best of three series began Sept. 29, taking place in the empty home ballparks of the higher seeded team. Once the playoff bracket is down to eight teams, MLB has decided to hold the final three playoff series in a bubble atmosphere using four stadiums.
This will hopefully help cut the risk of a coronavirus outbreak throughout the playoffs. With the matchups set, the top teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League and the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League. These two teams take a completely different approach to forming their rosters, but both have ended up excelling getting to that top seed in their respective leagues.
With the expansion of the playoffs this year, more than half the teams will be a part of the October postseason. Nonetheless, this will make it harder and more interesting for teams down the stretch.
Some early predictions have the Dodgers winning it all. In the past the Dodgers have always fell short of their goal, such as in the World Series in 2017 and 2018. This would be the year to do so with star outfielder Mookie Betts joining the club this offseason. Pitching will be a big factor for the Dodgers and something they will have to rely on if they want to win it all as well.
The San Diego Padres 14-year playoff drought has finally come to an end. The Padres have built their team through offseason acquisitions and draft picks to finally get to where they want to be.
Sitting at the four seed, the Padres have a chance to take down the Dodgers if they see them in the second round. With young talent finally getting a chance to play in the postseason, that might be a bump in the road when adversity will have to be faced. If not this year, the Padres will be a part of National League favorites throughout the future.
One last team that can sneak their way through the National League bracket is the Atlanta Braves. Being the two seed, they are contenders that many experts have not talked about in World Series discussions. The talent and power throughout the lineup is what has solidified that two seed. Do not be surprised if Atlanta represents the National League in this year’s World Series.
Over in the American League side of the bracket, any single team can make a push to win. The New York Yankees, the fifth seed, have surprised many but still have the best odds to make the World Series. New York is a perennial favorite with the lineup and pitching rotation they have.
For the Yankees to get to the fall classic they will have to get past their first opponent the Cleveland Indians, who have been on a tear throughout September behind Shane Bieber, their pitching ave and MLB’s first triple crown winner since 2006. The Yankees rely on Gerrit Cole to compete with Bieber in their first matchup.
Do not count out the Tampa Bay Rays, who sit in the one seed despite having the third lowest team payroll in baseball. Tampa has star pitching and a lineup that has been consistent all year leading to a division championship. The Rays being atop the bracket are still not World Series favorites, yet they are used to being quiet underdogs. Shocking experts and fans will not be new to this ball club.
The second seeded Oakland Athletic’s look to make it out of the first round going up against the Chicago White Sox, a team that has looked great all year. This matchup is intriguing for both teams looking for a deep postseason run that both franchises have not seen in a good amount of time. The American League is definitely wide open in a short season where many ball clubs have had ups and downs.
Despite concerns around the coronavirus pandemic and a long break from baseball, October will once again be defined by baseball. One team will prevail as October’s very own champions.