The MLB playoffs start on October 7th. We still do not know all the match-ups and who every single team is going to be, but we have certainly learned a few things over the past two weeks. Between injuries, teams heating up, and even a division lead shakeup—this is going to be fun. What have we learned?
The NL East Likely Belongs To Atlanta
What a series in Atlanta this weekend. The Atlanta Braves proved that their slow start meant nothing. Simply put, they are the team to beat in the National League, other than the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. I cannot imagine anyone arguing this point. They beat Max Scherzer, they beat Jacob deGrom, and they beat Chris Bassitt. The Braves were third in the Majors in runs scored, second in home runs, second in OPS, fifth in ERA, second in strikeouts, and fourth and hits allowed. They are one of the upper echelon teams and are not afraid of the big moment. They were under .500 for the first two months of the year, and everybody was laughing at their offseason choices. They have been the hottest team in baseball ever since. All it took for the Mets to lose their lead was one month of good (but not elite) baseball. They went 15-11 in September.
The Phillies and Brewers Are Playing Hot Potato
"No, you take this last wild card spot!"
This is what the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies are essentially doing for the last wild card spot. The Phillies picked September to have their worst month since May. The Phillies went 11-14 in September whereas the Brewers went 15-13. Luckily for the Phillies, they have won their last two and the Brewers have lost their previous two. The Phillies likely have this last wild card spot, but they must take care of business.
One team cannot field, and the other team cannot hit. The Phillies will be more fun to watch. They mash the ball and their fielding deficiencies make for some wicked fun.
Let me put it like this. Of the four teams who will have first-round byes, (we're assuming the Atlanta Braves keep their spot) three of those four are in the top for team ERA. Pitching wins divisions. A lot of the playoff teams right now hit the ball well, but all of these teams pitch well. The Tampa Bay Rays are 21st in runs scored. They pitched their way into the playoffs.
The Monster Mash
You've gotta hit the ball, too. Of the top 10 teams in runs scored, only one of those teams is out of playoff contention. That team? One of the worst pitching teams in the majors (Red Sox) which explains that.
Good Records Count For Something
This year's change in playoff format makes it easier for teams to get a spot in the postseason. However, trying to be one of the best teams is also now something a team shoots for even more than they did before. Four teams (the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Astros) have a first-round bye.
If your favorite team is not going to be in the playoffs, I am sorry to hear that. At least you can enjoy watching the playoffs anxiety-free. That is something!