MLB postseason: the wildcard round

MLB PLAYOFF BRACKET. Photo provided by MLB

By Jack Hagen | Writer

October 4, 2020

2020 has undoubtedly been unconventional. Everything seems to be different, including the MLB postseason. This year there are 16 teams: the top two from each division and two wildcards in each league. There have never been so many teams participating in the contest for a championship, and it is now played in an eight-seed bracket format. In years prior, the top teams would receive a bye, rest, and gain a major advantage over the rest of the opponents.

With the new format, any situation is possible. Baseball is an unpredictable game where the skill of the team is often irrelevant. Victory is generally determined by the group that makes the least amount of mistakes. Halfway through the wildcard round, an example of this has already been revealed in the Houston Astros. 

ASTROS Jose Altuve (left) and Carlos Correa (right) after their win in Minnesota. Jesse Johnson/USA Today-Sports

Amongst all the controversy circling the Astros organization, the team managed to pull off a sweep in their series against the Minnesota Twins. Regarded as one of the best teams in baseball this year, Minnesota choked away the three game series, losing 3-1 and 4-1. Houston’s victory unsettled many people after the Astros cheated for years, unjustly winning the 2017 World Series.

“The Astros completely disrespected the game of baseball by cheating from 2017-2019,” junior Ryan Dunbar said. “They got bailed out this year too with there not being fans in the stands and a very weak punishment from the league.”

The magnitude of rage the baseball community feels towards the players and management of the Houston Astros is tremendous, and, if there were fans, one could only imagine what playing in the Yankee or Dodger Stadiums would be like, as those two fan bases took the scandal the hardest. The play of the Houston Astros would surely have been affected, but they are instead able to carry on with no more than a slap on the wrist. 

REDS pitcher Trevor Bauer after recording one of his twelve strikeouts on the day. Adam Hagy/Major League Baseball

On the other side, the National League has had some of the most competitive baseball played in a very long time. The series between the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves was an incredible example. On October 1, Atlanta took the lead in the series after winning game one 1-0 in 13 innings. MVP candidate Freddie Freeman’s walk-off single sealed the deal and was the only run scored in the entire game, setting a postseason record for the longest time for a team to score in a game.

Cincinnati was led by starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who threw for 7.2 innings, striking out 14 batters and only giving up two hits. A performance like this is almost expected of the Reds star at this point, as he is arguably the best pitcher in professional baseball today. “Trevor Bauer is a legend in the making,” junior Ryan O’Connor said—but Bauer’s remarkable performance was not enough to secure the victory. Hopefully his team can pull together and provide some runs for their pitching staff in the rest of the series. 

Other notable performances include the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, who both swept their opponents, seamlessly advancing to the next round. The two teams had electric offensive performances opposite of the Reds and Braves. The Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox played in a winner-take-all game in their series finale, and both the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals look to sweep as well. Though this may be a new experience for the millions of baseball fans, the playoffs shouldn’t be any less exciting.

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