Teams to Look Out for in the MLB’s Expanded Playoffs

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By Curran Rastogi, Lead Sports Editor

As the weather starts to get cooler and the year progresses into the fall, baseball fans around the world know one thing is coming: playoff baseball. Even in this pandemic, MLB fans still have something to look forward to in October. To accommodate for this shortened season, the MLB playoff structure has expanded to with eight teams from each league making the playoffs, playing each other in a modified best of three wildcard series. To mitigate traveling, the American League will play in a bubble at the Dodgers’ and Padres’ ballparks, while the National League plays in a bubble at the Rangers’ and Astros’ ballparks for the LDS, LCS and WS. The rest of the postseason will continue as normal, but here are some teams to look out for when watching the playoffs this year. 

 

MLB Playoff Sleeper: Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians are a team to watch this postseason due to one of the best rotations in baseball and a promising lineup of hitters. Shane Bieber, the AL Cy Young Front Runner leads the charge boasting a 1.63 ERA, along with quality starters Zach Plesac (1.85 ERA), Carlos Carrasco (2.90 ERA) who successfully recovered from leukemia last season and Aaron Civale (3.99 ERA). This has culminated in the Indians having the best starter ERA in the MLB. Along with their superb rotation, batters like Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes, the Indians should not be taken lightly. In addition, they play the New York Yankees in the first round, an inconsistent team that has been through the ringer with the amount of injuries they’ve dealt with this season.

 

MLB Playoff Disappointment: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs this year are a big departure from the Cubs of 2016, as the bats have fallen quiet and the team has just gotten older. Despite a Cy Young Candidacy from Yu Darvish and a sneaky good season from Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs are missing their best bullpen arm Rowan Wick. The Cubs are the 25th best lineup in MLB in terms of Weighted On Base Average, meaning they are one of the worst teams in the MLB at getting on base. Nothing about this team says playoff contender, while they have above average pitching, their lineup is simply less than stellar. The Cubs are also dealing with poor campaigns from their stars: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. They may have the talent to go far, but this year that talent has not shown up. 

 

MLB World Series Favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have choked in the postseason multiple times over the years, even though they’ve had the most consistent chance to win it all. The Dodgers upgraded their loaded hitting lineup by adding MVP favorite Mookie Betts in a trade from the Red Sox. The rotation is still intact with Walker Buehler and a potential Cy Young candidate in Clayton Kershaw, and along with new breakouts Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, the Dodgers have plenty of innings eaters. Everyone knows the Dodgers have talent, but the knock on them is the poor decisions and bad luck they’ve faced in the last decade. However, as the Washington Nationals proved last year after winning the World Series, narratives are meant to be rewrote, and the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw’s reputation of being chokers will evaporate this year.