What would expanded playoffs in 2021 mean for O's, plus other notes

It was not a big surprise when we learned this week that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has designs on making this year's expanded 16-team playoffs permanent.

The reasons for this would start with a big one: money. Extra dollars are clearly generated and that benefits both players and owners. This also will allow for pennant races to include more teams. In 2019 we saw five playoff teams, and now there would be eight in each league. That is more than half of each league that would advance.

It seems MLB wanted to get away from the one-game wild card playoff. For me, that was incredibly exciting, a one-and-done scenario creating max pressure. But some felt that was not really fair to the losing team. The Orioles were on the wrong end of the 2016 game when they lost in Toronto.

With eight teams in the playoffs in each league, no one gets a bye to the second round and everyone plays to start the postseason. The first-round series are a best of three and held with all games played at the higher seed. If baseball keeps this format, I might consider this change taking a page from the Korea Baseball Organization. How about the higher seeds in the opening round (seeds 1-4) start with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three? The higher seeds would need just one win to advance with two tries at it while the lower seed would need to go 2-0. It would be reward for winning more games and the top three seeds would be first-place teams.

A big argument against this 16-team format is that there are simply too many teams being rewarded with playoff berths. Certainly any team that can play .500 would likely be in contention, and we've seen teams with losing records in recent years that would have been a No. 8 seed in that year.

Here is a question specific to the Orioles: If MLB does go to 16 teams beyond the 2020 season, how does it impact the club?

Should they consider moves to shoot for .500 and a playoff berth next year? The answer for me is why do that? Don't change the plan, which has been a good one. We have seen this team make a nice improvement on the 2020 team and the homegrown players coming up and playing well has pumped some life into the organization. So just keep that going. This club as currently constructed with a now much-improved rotation could make a run at .500 next year.

Should the Orioles change anything? Nope. That is how I feel.

Kremer-Delivers-White-Wide-Sidebar.jpgSome notes on the series win over Atlanta:

* Lefty Keegan Akin and right-hander Dean Kremer have combined to allow one earned run or none in five of their six MLB starts. Akin struck out a career-high nine last night, the most by an O's rookie since Dylan Bundy fanned nine White Sox on Aug. 7, 2016.

* Atlanta began this series leading the majors in scoring at 5.94 runs per game and leading MLB in team slugging (.488) and OPS (.834). But in the three games here, Atlanta scored seven runs on 24 hits and went 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

* Over the last five games, O's starting pitchers have allowed one earned run or none four times and have a 1.71 ERA. Over the last 12 games, O's starters have allowed one earned run or none eight times and produced a 3.26 ERA.

* The O's improved to 22-10 when they score four runs or more. They are 0-17 when scoring three or fewer.

* The O's ended interleague play going 11-9 versus the National League. They went 2-1 against Atlanta, 4-2 versus Washington, 3-0 against Philadelphia, 2-2 versus the New York Mets and 0-4 against Miami.

* The Orioles would need to go 8-3 in their final 11 games to finish at 30-30. Through 49 games last year they were 15-34, so this club has won seven more games after the same number of games.

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