Major League Baseball’s first foray right into a best-of-three wild-card spherical equipped its proportion of memorable moments.
Now it’s directly to the department collection, which is industry as same old with a best-of-five structure. The 4 matchups are Braves-Phillies, Padres-Dodgers, Mariners-Astros and Guardians-Yankees and they all start Tuesday.
The Astros, Yankees, Braves and Dodgers were given to relaxation and watch the wild-card drama spherical from house, due to awesome common season information. Now they’ll carry their very own storylines to the postseason degree.
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Rested Yankees slugger Aaron Judge — who set the AL report with 62 homers this season — will get his likelihood to swat postseason dingers. Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander and the Astros carry their considerable postseason enjoy to the combination.
The Dodgers and their loaded lineup of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman take the sphere. Then there may be the protecting World Series champion Braves, who rallied to win the NL East within the ultimate days of the common season and glance bold as soon as once more.
Some of the sport’s greatest stars are already headed house after the wild-card spherical: Max Scherzer, Pete Alonso and the Mets are long past after a 101-win season. The feel-good tale of Cardinals veteran stars Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina is over in part as a result of a leaky bullpen. The Blue Jays and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have been bounced through a surprising Mariners comeback.
After the department collection wrap up, the league championship collection and World Series shall be in a best-of-seven structure. The LCS is scheduled to start out on Oct. 18 whilst the World Series begins Oct. 28.
HOW WAS THE NEW WILD CARD FORMAT?
MLB’s transfer to a bulked-up, 12-team bracket and a best-of-three wild-card spherical — as a substitute of the one-game, surprising demise structure that were in position since 2012 — appeared to give you the stability the game was once in search of.
“It’s definitely interesting,” Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber said. “You know, I think it’s good for teams that we can get extra teams in there, and guys are going to be battling throughout the whole year. It’s not just that do-or-die. But still, it’s also a round of urgency, too, because it’s two wins and you’re on to the next round.
“So there’s a sense of urgency in every single game, which I think is really good.”
The Guardians were one of the teams that didn’t need three games in the wild-card round to advance, sweeping the Rays with two wins. But even after winning the first game, Guardians manager Terry Francona seemed pleased with the new format.
“I think it’s good. I think it’s better,” Francona said. “I think it’s a more true outcome. But then again, it might hurt us. I hope it doesn’t. Just think: you play 162 and then you play one and go home. That’s rough. I think this is good for the fans. I think it’s a better measure in competitive balance than a one-game play-in.”
WHY DID THE PLAYOFFS START LATE?
October’s postseason festivities will bleed into November before a champion is crowned.
That’s mostly because of the sport’s labor strife that resulted in a work stoppage over the winter. It delayed the beginning of spring training and pushed the regular season back about a week. Baseball players and owners salvaged the usual 162-game season, but to do that, they had to move opening day from March 31 to April 7.
Some of the games originally scheduled for the first week of the season were moved to the end, meaning a season that was originally scheduled to end on Oct. 2 instead ended on Oct. 5.
The Dodgers have been dominant all season with a lineup that includes Betts, Turner and Freeman. They won 111 games for one of the best seasons in franchise history.
Over in the American League, the Houston Astros topped 100 wins as well. They’ve got a loaded lineup that includes Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, along with Verlander, the potential AL Cy Young winner.
The Yankees were cruising for much of the season — led by Judge’s huge year — but haven’t played as well since the All-Star break.
AP Sports Writers Dave Skretta in St. Louis and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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