The MLB playoffs: Drama, surprises and the LDS up next

We sure can’t say the 2022 Major League Baseball playoffs have lacked in surprises or drama. We saw three road teams advance, a 15-innings thriller, a six-run ninth inning rally, an ear inspection and a team trailing 8-1 in the fifth inning rally to win.

So yeah, a lot going on in just three days of ball.

The madness resumes today with four Division Series matchups, three of which are interdivision matchups. Should be fun and no doubt we will see more surprises and more drama.

I did not expect to see the Toronto Blue Jays go two and (barbe) que. One of baseball’s best offenses got shutout in Game 1 and Seattle rallied from seven runs down to win Game 2. Wowser. Maybe this series provided the latest example that how a team ends its season matters little in the postseason. Toronto went 22-11 in September and the Orioles saw it first-hand when they played them three times and lost all three series. But even at loud and crazy Rogers Centre, which was rocking at times again in October, they lost.

Tampa Bay was also two and done versus Cleveland. I was a bit surprised that some O’s fans took pleasure in the Jays and Rays getting eliminated. For me, I kind of like the talk of how strong the AL East is and was again this year, but teams losing in the opening round takes some shine off that. I can see not rooting for Boston and New York, but it seems some O’s fans want all four to destruct in October.

Here is what is coming today:

1:07 p.m. – Philadelphia (87-75) at Atlanta (101-61)

Speaking of teams that played well late in the year, we have the defending champion Braves. But really, they played great the last four or so months and not just late. After a 23-27 start on May 31, they went 78-34 (.696). They won their fifth straight NL East title, despite leading the division for just nine days. Their first day in sole possession of first place was Sept. 9.

3:37 p.m. – Seattle (90-72) at Houston (106-56)

The Astros look so good right now. They seem to have it all, especially pitching where they won a team Triple Crown in the AL, leading the league in wins, ERA (2.90) and strikeouts (1,524). They were also first in the league in rotation ERA (2.95) and bullpen ERA (2.80). They went 55-26 at home, 35-20 versus the postseason teams and 12-7 against Seattle. But maybe that Mariner magic will carry into this series and the pressure is on the favorite.

7:37 p.m. – Cleveland (92-70) at New York Yankees (99-63)

The Yankees finished second in the AL in team ERA (3.30) and Cleveland was fourth (3.46). But New York went 5-1 versus Cleveland this year. By the way, what a selfish move by bullpen lefty Aroldis Chapman. He said he would not attend a mandatory workout unless the team assured him he would be on the postseason roster. They said they could not, and he stayed home in Miami. The Yankees told him to stay there. Beyond selfish by a declining talent. The players are still the employees, right?

9:37 p.m. – San Diego (89-73) at Los Angeles Dodgers (111-51)

Like Houston, the Dodgers seem to have it all. They won the World Series after the shortened 2020 season and that very much counts, but their last title after a full 162-game season was in 1988. Still, this would be a big upset if they don’t advance. They finished 22 games ahead of San Diego his year and went 14-5 against the Padres in the regular season.

It was a tough October for former O’s skipper Buck Showalter. His teams are now 1-7 in their last eight playoff games dating to the 2014 AL Championship Series. Was it within his right to ask the umpires to check San Diego pitcher Joe Musgrove? It surely was. Did it look completely desperate? It did to me. The Mets are going to be a disappointing 101-win team, if a club can be that. They needed just one win late in the year against the Braves to avoid the wild-card round yet got swept. Then at home, they lost to the Padres and were outscored 16-8 in the series.

Righty Max Scherzer, making $43.3 million this season for the Mets, gave up four runs over 5 2/3 in that series with Atlanta and then gave up seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 1 to San Diego.

Meanwhile, there is no one stat that ensures team success, but bullpens are pretty important. The top four clubs in the AL in ‘pen ERA are still standing.

2.80 – Houston
2.97 – New York
3.05 – Cleveland
3.33 - Seattle


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