The Major League Baseball postseason has been absolutely insane, thus far with monstrous homers, epic comebacks, shaky defense, and just for good measure some controversy. This postseason shows the growth and parity of America’s National Pastime three of the four teams advancing to the championship series didn’t make the postseason last year.
The Cubs, Mets and Blue Jays have flexed their muscles and proved they belong this year and beyond, but let’s not forget about the Kansas City Royals proving that last year’s Cinderella run was no fluke! Here are my top takeaways from an unbelievable opening round.
1 Starved fan bases have come out in droves to cheer on their teams
As I said earlier, three of the four remaining teams didn’t make the postseason last year and two of the teams have waited years for their next crack at October baseball. Although their teams have not experienced postseason in a while the fans are definitely not rusty and it’s been amazing to watch the excitement it gives me Goosebumps even though my team isn’t in the fight.
The Cubs were able to celebrate at historic Wrigley Field for the first time in their history absolutely amazing and breathtaking. The Blue Jays also got to celebrate for the first time since the Joe Carter game in 1993. The New York Mets also have waited a while this was their first postseason appearance since 2006; I guess we could say at least someone’s happy in New York. It’s really exciting to see new faces in the playoffs just making baseball even more fun to watch! Little shout out to the Houston Astros as well a magical run that came to a devastating end; however your fans were amazing and have a very bright future!
2 Pitching and defense win championships
One of the oldest sports sayings in the book came to the forefront in every matchup in the opening round. I’ll start with the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in game two with the Cardinals already had a 1-0 series lead Kolten Wong a normally shorthanded second baseman booted a ground ball opening the floodgates for the Chicago Cubs to a five-run inning gaining all the momentum which propelled them to a series victory.
Also, it felt like every time the Cardinals grabbed any type of momentum it was taken away by the Cubs getting a timely hit off a relief core that was ranked at times number one in the league and consistently in the top five all year. Those miscues and the lack of bodies were too much for the Cardinals to overcome.
If you’re an Astros fan skip part, they had a 6-2 lead in the eighth inning of the potential clinching game for them. Then it just started to unravel with dink and dunk hits and a potential double play ball going off of Carlos Correa’s glove that would’ve stifled the rally. The Astros had no one they could rely on coming out of the bullpen and the relative inexperience that is what doomed them and I’m sure in the off-season they will address the back end of the game the way the series played out it will haunt them for a little while. With the Royals having a dominant bullpen turning it into a six-inning game that was the difference in a series. This will continue to be for the Royals, who look to continue to feed off the momentum they’ve created from last year and this.
We thought the Astros had the most devastating series loss nope, it was the other Texas team. First of all blowing a 2-0 series lead and a seven inning to forget it will be in the player’s nightmares forever three routine plays turned into errors leading to what might’ve been the biggest bat flip I’ve ever seen after a moonshot to give them the lead they never relinquished. The series also had a few brawls and unnecessary things from the fans, it had everything.
The last series was the New York Mets versus the Los Angeles Dodgers this one didn’t have the defense miscues, but the pitching was a big factor because the New York Mets were much deeper easily having four starters that you are very confident can go shut down opposing offenses. Whereas the Dodgers just had Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, who are the best in the business, but were exposed in game three when the Mets scored 13 runs. Thus, putting all the pressure on two guys just became too much even though they pitched very well and good enough to win. The Dodger offense wasn’t able to crack the code of the Mets young stars on the mound ultimately deciding the series.
3 The Cubs are here to stay
The Cubs were able to defeat their arch rival the St. Louis Cardinals in impressive fashion. Taking advantage of the conditions in the friendly confines absolutely tearing the cover off the baseball and coming up with timely hitting not allowing the Cardinals to gain any momentum after game one when Lackey shut them down.
Some other big takeaways I had from this series is the maturity of Jorge Soler going four for seven with a home run and the more eye-popping stats for him is he has walked six times his plate discipline has markedly improved since debuting because when he first came up, he would just wave at the breaking ball having noncompetitive at-bats and now he is a force and could be a big X-factor as continued to play. all the young sluggers to go with Soler; this offense looks like a force to be reckoned with. Another key I’ve seen is the unsung heroes coming out of the bullpen Trevor Cahill getting key outs in the postseason continues to build his confidence this was a guy that had a 7.73 ERA and now is getting meaningful outs in October very happy for him. Lastly, with Joe Maddon leading the squad anything can happen he’s been a wizard with this team.
4. Looking Ahead
The reality is this is just the beginning of the postseason and both of the upcoming series are going to come down to the smallest of margins. The Mets and Cubs battled seven times this season and the Cubs are 7-0; this may give the Cubs a little momentum, but its postseason and anything can happen. This series is strength verseses strength with the Mets young pitching and the Cubs young sluggers that flex their muscles against one of the better pitching staffs in the league clubbing home run after home run. I’m pulling for the Cubs because I’m a diehard Braves fan and can’t bring myself to cheer for the Big Apple but I’m hoping for a closely contested series that comes down to the wire.
In the American League it’s once again strength on strength as the Blue Jays have an offense that can bludgeon opponents, but the Royals have the best bullpen left and can turn it into a six inning game quickly. They also have the experience and momentum they’ve created both this year and last. I don’t really care who wins the series, but I think I’m leaning towards the Royals due to their dominant bullpen. I hope for a closely contested series and it’s very exciting, I must say hope it doesn’t come down to any more controversy, we’ve had enough to last us until next season.
This has been an amazing start to the postseason obviously I would rather the Atlanta Braves be in it, but it might be a blessing in disguise that they’re not this year because I might’ve already had a heart attack the way these series have unfolded.