Well now that we got that out of the way, it’s time for the real Postseason to begin. The matchups this season are incredible with plenty of intrigue and excitement built up around each team what follows below are a few things I’m excited to watch unfold over the next couple of weeks.
Which Starter Will Rise?
Madison Bumgarner taught us in 2014 that one reliable starter can almost single handedly take a team from Wild Card play in game to World Series champion. There are so many interesting candidates to be that person this year; best pitcher in the universe Clayton Kershaw, sentient pitching machine Kubler, 300 strikeout-king Chris Sale, the once touted best pitching prospect ever Stephen Strasburg, recently relocated ace Justin Verlander. That list does not even to mention the previous two American League Cy Young winners in Rick Porcello and Dallas Keuchel, the likely National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who is having health issues, or anyone from the Cubs who are all more than capable of stepping up and being that guy for a few starts as well.
Rob Arthur and Greg Matthew at 538 released an interesting piece a few days ago trying to predict which starters will do well based on some research they did. Their predictions are that Sale, Keuchel, and Lackey have the highest likelihood of success and Drew Pomeranz, Scherzer and Kershaw might struggle a little. In the past there has been very little evidence correlating success to end a season affecting how players perform in the postseason so watching how this predicting method lines up to actual play will be fun to follow.
Having a Hall of Fame Shortstop is the new Market inefficiency
Not since A-Rod and Jeter appeared shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated together has there been a crop of more talented shortstops throughout the league and the best of the best will be on display in series ahead. Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros continued to show his offensive prowess throughtout the year and even though he missed 6 weeks to a torn thumb ligament he put up more value on the season than all but 23 other players according to FanGraphs WAR. Two of those 23 players were Dodger’s Corey Seager and Cleveland Indians Francisco Lindor who are much more skilled than Correa defensively, particularly Lindor. It may be a little soon to declare these three young stars hall of famers but with their prospect pedigree, outstanding early results and seemingly unlimited potential you are likely watching players you will tell your grandkids about or least be watching for years to come. These three are so good they even make you forget the other shortstops in October. The potential Xander Bogaerts and Addison Russell flashed throughout the minor leagues or Didi Gregorious has showed this year make them a possibility to be heroes at some point or another as well. One thing is for sure and that is we’ll see some great players in the most important position on the diamond.
Sexy Bullpen Arms Not Just for Baseball Nerds Anymore
If Tuesday’s A.L. Wild Card confirmed anything it is the importance of a good bullpen and why the Yankees will be so dangerous this postseason. After Terry Francona’s innovative and gutsy use of his relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen last year broad baseball audiences started to see what the big deal about non closer relievers was. Having a guy with a wipeout slider or that throws 98 plus miles per hour come in and shut down a team down at the right time is objectively one of the coolest sights in all of baseball. A bullpen has always been an important aspect to any ball club but none more so than in recent years. From Miller’s “fireman” multi inning outings last year to the 2015 Royals effectively playing 7 inning games due to Wade Davis and Greg Holland’s automatic reliability bullpens are in a bit of a hey day right now and we all get to revel in it. We’re about to get to watch Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Miller, Allen, Davis, Archie Bradley, Chris Devenski, Ken Giles, Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle and even normally starting pitcher David Price to name a few throw what will probably the most bullpen innings ever in a post season and they're going to kill it.
Everyone is watching the same games
There is a section of twitter for everything and baseball is no different. During the season with so many games and storylines going on nightly it is hard for a lot of baseball twitter to line up and talk about the same thing at once. In october that changes and with only a max of four games on throughout the day it’s easy to forget there are people in the world NOT watching the game. Seeing your timeline fill up with 6-10 “holy shit” tweets and knowing what everyone is referring to without even a hashtag of context is really fun. Being informed on the stats and probabilities throughout the games by people like Mike Petriello(@mike_petriello), Daren Willman (@darenw) and High Heat Stats (@highheatstats) is invaluable. Following the stories with beat writers and reporters like Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) and Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) is really insightful. Combine that with the commentary of people like the boys at Cespesdes Family BBQ (@CespesdesBBQ), Lana Berry (@Lana), Molly Knight (@molly_knight) and Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) and, to borrow their favorite phrase, “it’s lit.” The experience of watching baseball following people whose insight you care about and enjoy is really fun and you should give it a shot with those few suggestions of people to follow to get you started.