With the Detroit Tigers finished, we are turning our attention to what’s going on around MLB.
With Major League Baseball having so many good storylines this season, we decided to roll out a weekly “MLB Roundup” article. In this week’s roundup, we look at the MLB post-season matchups, which start on Thursday. Then, we look at the incredible season of former Tigers ace Justin Verlander, and lastly, Aaron Judge’s home run record.
A new MLB playoff format
(image courtesy of MLB.com)
The new collective bargaining agreement expanded the postseason from 10 teams to 12 teams. The new format now features three Wild Card berths (instead of two) in the AL and NL, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The top seed in the Wild Card matchup will have home field advantage in the best-of-three series. The winner advances to the Divisional Series.
We start in the American League. Houston has the number one seed and will take on the winner of Toronto and Seattle. What’s interesting about the Blue Jays and Mariners matchup is that it is the battle of the 1977 expansion teams. Seattle had a team for one season in 1969 – the Pilots – but after one season they moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers.
Justin Verlander is on another level
The Houston Astros finished the year with more than 100 wins for the third time in six seasons. Their starting rotation produced a fWAR of 17.4. The man who led the rotation was former Tigers ace Justin Verlander. His numbers this season, at the age of 39, are something out of a video game. Keep in mind, he is coming off Tommy John surgery.
18-4, 1.79 ERA, 175 IP, 185 SO, WHIP 0.82.
In last night’s start, he put on a masterclass performance: 5IP – 0H – 0ER – 1BB – 10SO. He wrapped up a Cy Young-caliber season like a boss.
Aaron Judge follows a former Yankee into history
The number two seed in the American League is the AL East champs, the New York Yankees. They will play the winner of the Cleveland and Tampa series. Outfielder Aaron Judge made history on Tuesday as he hit home run number 62. With that, he broke the American League record set by former Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 1961.
Judge breaking the record is staggering. It’s even more impressive considering all the attention Yankees players get, and the amplification of social media.
As far as the Rays and the Guardians go, the last time these teams faced off against New York in the postseason was back in 2020. Cleveland was swept by the Yankees in the Wild Card Series 2-0. The Rays would beat New York in the ALDS 3-2. This is the fourth trip to the postseason by Rays manager Kevin Cash in eight seasons. For Terry Francona, this is his fourth AL Central division crown. What was the magic behind the Guardians winning the division? Good pitching top to bottom, and being the toughest team to strikeout, with a 18.2% strikeout rate.
Over in the National League
The LA Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves are the top two seeds. The Dodgers won over 100 games once again, and won the NL West by 21 games. The Braves won their fifth straight division title after overtaking the Mets in the final week. Of course, this is familiar ground for the defending World Series champs. They won the NL East every year between 1995 and 2005.
Waiting for the Dodgers is the winner of the New York Mets and San Diego Padres series. The Mets were in first place for the first 157 games of the season. They were up by as many as 10.5 games at one point. San Diego was one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline, acquiring reliever Josh Hader, Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. They are in the post-season for just second time since 2006.
Atlanta will get the winner of the Phillies and Cardinals series. St. Louis, led by first year manager Oliver Marmol, make their fourth consecutive postseason appearance after winning the NL Central crown. Marmol was able to navigate a season in which Cardinals fans were not sure what to expect. But a strong farewell year by Albert Pujois and contributions from players like Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman has helped his cause for a potential NL Manager of the Year award.
Edman won a Gold Glove award at shortstop last season and posted a 3.7 bWAR. This season he got better, posting a 6.2 bWAR year.
The postseason officially begins on Friday.
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