2021 MLB Playoff Preview Storylines to Know

Main League Baseball’s postseason begins Tuesday evening with an particularly spicy American League Wild Card Sport between the New York Yankees and Boston Pink Sox. The playoff dash will final a few month, and MLB is again to its commonplace 10-team format after briefly increasing the sphere to 16 groups for the 60-game pandemic season of 2020. In different phrases, baseball’s playoffs are again to being the toughest to get into throughout the foremost North American professional sports activities, with only a third of the league enjoying on previous October 3.

Spoiler: The playoffs can be good. They at all times are, and the stakes will really feel particularly excessive after a two-year layoff from the final common postseason with followers within the stands. However to get a bit of extra particular, right here are some things to look at because the pennant race approaches its last chapter.

A number of the sport’s greatest groups could have their backs towards the wall

The Yankees and Pink Sox received 92 video games every, a stable effort however nicely behind the 100-victory Tampa Bay Rays, who took the AL East crown and an computerized slot within the Division Collection. So New York and Boston, with the second- and fifth-largest payrolls in baseball, could have a one-game playoff to see who meets the Rays and whose postseason ends earlier than it begins.

Within the Nationwide League, the story is analogous sufficient. The Los Angeles Dodgers, homeowners of the biggest-budget roster in baseball at about $267 million this 12 months, have been their sometimes elite selves this season. However the San Francisco Giants someway pulled a 107-win season out of their again pocket, which means L.A.’s 106 wins merely bought the Dodgers a one-game playoff with the St. Louis Cardinals, a postseason mainstay that itself has a top-10 payroll.

All collectively, the 4 Wild Card groups have received 9 World Collection this century. Two can be carried out by Wednesday evening. The AL recreation is Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, and the NL recreation is on the identical time, and on the identical channel, on Wednesday.

The Giants will attempt to end off one of the vital absurd seasons in baseball historical past

As we coated again in the summertime, there was no specific cause coming into this season to assume San Francisco would even be a playoff staff. The Dodgers have been the NL West’s dominant pressure for years, and it appeared just like the San Diego Padres have been the staff finest positioned to problem L.A. However the Padres pale after a sizzling begin, and the Giants merely saved successful all 12 months with a lineup of veteran hitters who’d seemed to be nearing the ends of their careers and a rotation of pitchers who constantly outstripped expectations. Additionally they helped themselves on the commerce deadline by getting Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs, although Bryant has been extra good than nice since attending to the Bay Space at the beginning of August. No staff league-wide has received greater than their 107 video games because the 2018 Pink Sox, and no staff in franchise historical past has ever received as a lot because the 2021 Giants.

So right here the Giants are, with a historic 12 months below their belt and an opportunity to win their fourth World Collection since 2010. Regardless of the perfect document in baseball, the Giants are tied for the third-best odds to take the Fall Basic, a mirrored image that even after 107 wins, there’s nonetheless some skepticism concerning the Giants’ endurance. A part of it’s that their reward for all these wins could be a five-game sequence with the second-best staff within the league this 12 months: Los Angeles.

The Rays will attempt, once more, to recover from the hump towards their bigger-spending opponents

Tampa Bay is the gold commonplace for MLB groups attempting to compete with out spending severe cash on their rosters. That’s not price praising, as staff proprietor Stu Sternberg clearly has the means to spend extra and the Rays have repeatedly cashed MLB revenue-sharing checks whereas making comparatively paltry investments of their huge league staff.

It’s not a great factor for followers or gamers that the Rays have been so good whereas spending so little and refusing to spend extra, and it’s arguably why they’ve did not win a World Collection in six postseason appearances since 2008. This 12 months’s payroll was twenty sixth within the majors, as Sternberg’s staff leaned on younger, low cost stars like second baseman Brandon Lowe and proper fielder Randy Arozarena. To this point, after all, it’s labored out. Whether or not the Rays could make a deep run with a pitching employees that lacks a real front-line starter is unclear, however they’ve bought a number of depth. It helps to have a bullpen that led the majors in wins above substitute.

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