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Before things get wild, the MLB postseason from A to Z

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Associated Press Photo

Houston Astros’ Tony Kemp, proper, high-fives teammate George Springer after scoring on Springer’s two-run residence run in the sixth inning of the first baseball recreation of a doubleheader towards the Baltimore Orioles, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photograph/Patrick Semansky)

NEW YORK (AP) — Final yr’s World Collection between the Astros and Dodgers was a thriller, ending in Houston’s Recreation 7 victory for its first championship.

May they’ve an encore in retailer? Maybe one with a Hollywood ending this time?

Time to discover out. After two tight NL division races stretched the common season to a pair of Recreation 163s, the Rockies and Cubs are set to start the playoffs Tuesday night time with the NL wild-card recreation at Wrigley Area.

Before they do, a take a look at the 2018 postseason, from A to Z:

A: ACES OUT — Excellent news for NL hitters: Lots of the league’s prime beginning pitchers have already begun their offseasons. Cy Younger Award favorites Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola gained’t throw a postseason pitch. Similar for Patrick Corbin and 18-game winner Miles Mikolas. In fact, longtime rotation leaders like Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester are nonetheless in play.

B: BETTS IN SHOW — Mookie Betts enters his third postseason as the AL MVP favourite, although Boston’s dynamic leadoff hitter has a somewhat ho-hum playoff resume. Regardless of hitting 87 house runs over the previous three seasons, Betts has but to ship a playoff homer in seven video games, batting .269 with out an RBI.

C: CONTROVERSIAL CLOSER — The reigning World Collection champs have a special take a look at the again of their bullpen after a midseason transfer met by some criticism. The Astros acquired Roberto Osuna from Toronto whereas he was serving a 75-game ban for violating Main League Baseball’s home violence coverage. Canadian prosecutors have since dropped the home assault cost towards him as a result of the accuser wouldn’t journey to testify. Public opinion may swing in a different way, particularly if Osuna keys an October repeat for Houston.

D: DEBUTS — This can be the first postseason for Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Brewers star Christian Yelich after years with the floundering Marlins. Stanton will face one other highly effective first-timer in the wild-card recreation in Oakland’s Khris Davis. The Child Braves are loaded with playoff rookies — solely Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman have any postseason reps from Atlanta’s lineup or rotation.

E: EXTRA DRAMA — This yr’s postseason received a particular prelude — a pair of division tiebreakers. The Brewers beat the Cubs Three-1 on Monday to declare the NL Central title, and the Dodgers topped Colorado 5-2 for the NL West crown. The Cubs and Rockies will play in a wild-card recreation Tuesday. The winner heads to Milwaukee for a best-of-five Division Collection.

F: FREDDIE AND THE KIDS — Freddie Freeman leads a younger Atlanta squad again to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Freeman is a profession .400 hitter in the postseason, however the Braves are simply 1-Four with him in the lineup. He has an entire new supporting forged this time, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies main a cost that adopted a fruitful rebuilding course of.

G: GOOD GARY? — Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez batted simply .208 in his postseason debut final yr and adopted that up with a .186 common throughout an injury-plagued 2018. New York has stayed affected person with Sanchez’s defensive shortcomings due to his potential impression on offense, however extreme handed balls don’t pair so properly with a mean under the Mendoza Line.

H: HOME RUN KINGS — Talking of New York … No group has ever clubbed extra homers than this yr’s Yankees. With 267, they beat the mark of 264 set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. Giancarlo Stanton led the method with 38, however this report was set extra with depth. New York is the first squad with 12 gamers who reached double-digits in homers.

I: INSTANT REPLAY: Each name issues that rather more in the postseason, and that goes for managers simply as a lot as umpires. Final yr, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi was maligned after failing to ask for a evaluation when the plate ump incorrectly awarded Cleveland successful by pitch. After a stressed night time of sleep, Girardi declared the subsequent day, “I screwed up.” Girardi was changed by Aaron Boone at season’s finish.

J: JULY PICKUPS — The Dodgers added Manny Machado and Brian Dozier earlier than the commerce deadline with an eye fixed on a World Collection. Similar for the Brewers with Jonathan Schoop and Mike Moustakas. J.A. Happ can be an important piece for the Yankees, and Kevin Gausman will get massive innings for the Braves. Probably the most shocking participant who might make an influence? Breakout slugger Luke Voit, acquired by New York with out a lot fanfare from St. Louis.

Okay: KENLEY OK? — Kenley Jansen may be some extent of concern for the Dodgers. After giving up two homers in Monday’s 5-2 tiebreaker win over Colorado for the NL West title, Jansen has allowed 13 homers this season, greater than double his earlier profession excessive of six. Jansen missed time in early August after a visit to Denver led to a recurrence of a coronary heart problem, and he’s been particularly homer-prone since returning.

L: LONG RELIEF — Andrew Miller made the center innings a must-watch occasion two postseasons in the past with Cleveland, and final yr, starters Justin Verlander, Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw have been prepared for aid in massive spots. Anticipate to see aces in play early and sometimes, particularly in elimination video games.

M: MVPS — There’s loads of playoff hardware already in the trophy instances of this season’s members. Houston’s George Springer was final yr’s World Collection MVP, whereas the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist is again after profitable the 2016 honor. David Freese took the 2011 award with the Cardinals — he’s a bench piece now with the Dodgers — and the Cubs even have Phillies 2008 Collection MVP Cole Hamels.

N: NO NOVEMBER — The previous two World Collection have gone to Recreation 7s on Nov. 1, but when this yr’s finale goes the distance on schedule, it’ll have to carry previous midnight to stretch past October. Recreation 7 is scheduled for Halloween.

O: ON THE MEND — All-Stars Aaron Decide and Trevor Bauer hit October making an attempt to shake late-season DL stints. Bauer received a number of tuneup appearances for Cleveland after breaking his proper leg, and now the Indians are hoping he can present some massive innings. Decide, in the meantime, hit simply .220 in 13 video games after lacking time with a damaged proper hand.

P: PITCHING TO ROCKTOBER — Positive, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story completed 1-2 in the NL house run race, however this yr’s Rockies membership has been pushed simply as a lot by its pitching. Projected wild-card recreation starter Kyle Freeland set the franchise season ERA mark at 2.85, whereas German Marquez, Jon Grey, Tyler Anderson and Antonio Senzatela have rounded out a rotation that’s stored opponents in examine at hitter-friendly Coors Subject.

Q: QUITTING WHILE AHEAD? — Chase Utley is eyeing an opportunity to exit on prime. The Dodgers second baseman is planning to retire after the season, however first LA will attempt to get him a second World Collection ring. The Braves are doing the similar for Brandon McCarthy, who was shut down in September and gained’t be on the lively roster earlier than retiring at yr’s finish.

R: ROOKIE STANDOUTS — Rookie of the Yr contenders Ronald Acuna Jr. of Atlanta and Miguel Andujar of the Yankees might contribute some massive swings. The 20-year-old Acuna led all rookies with Three.Eight wins above alternative (per Fangraphs) behind 26 homers, 16 stolen bases and a .293 common. Andujar tied for the rookie lead with 27 homers and led the pack with 92 RBIs.

S: STILL SLICK? — Final yr’s World Collection was star studded, however maybe no one obtained extra consideration than the supposedly slick baseballs. The Dodgers and Astros mixed for a Collection document 25 homers whereas pitchers for each groups complained they couldn’t get a grip.

T: TRIPLE THREATS — Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich each took critical runs at a Triple Crown this yr. Martinez led the AL with 130 RBIs and completed second with 43 homers and a .330 batting common. Yelich topped the NL with a .326 common, however was third in homers at 36 and tied for second in RBIs at 110.

U: UNHITTABLE — There have been simply two no-hitters in postseason historical past — Don Larsen’s good recreation in the 1956 World Collection, and Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS. Contemplating this was the first common season with extra strikeouts than hits, although, the majors could also be due for a 3rd. Of the three no-hitters thrown this yr, two got here from playoff groups, together with one by Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler and three relievers on Might Four towards San Diego.

V: VENTERS’ WILD RIDE — The final time Jonny Venters pitched in the postseason was the 2012 wild-card recreation with Atlanta. That 6-Three defeat to the Cardinals was Venters’ last look in the majors till this season due to 4 main elbow operations, together with three Tommy John procedures. He returned to the majors with Tampa Bay this yr, was traded to the Braves and now may pitch once more for Atlanta in October.

W: WILD, WILD VET — Jon Lester is about to develop into the first pitcher to begin two wild-card video games. The Cubs left-hander pitched in the 2014 AL recreation for Oakland, permitting six runs in a 9-Eight, 12-inning loss to the Royals. He’ll face Colorado in the postseason opener Tuesday. Luis Severino might match Lester’s feat with a second wild-card begin Wednesday towards the Athletics, although Yankees supervisor Aaron Boone was ready till Tuesday to announce a starter.

X: XBH MONSTERS — Boston’s Mookie Betts was the first participant to lead the AL in extra-base hits and batting common since Mickey Mantle in 1956. In the meantime, Yankees slugger Miguel Andujar tied Fred Lynn’s AL rookie document with 47 doubles.

Y: YANKEE WAY, WITH A TWIST — For years, New York was infamous for stocking its title contenders by combing by means of the free agent pool. Properly guess who’s borrowed the blueprint? The Oakland Athletics, who boast simply 4 homegrown gamers. On its projected playoff roster, Oakland has seven gamers acquired by way of free company — most of all the playoff groups — and 14 extra picked up in trades, together with Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie and Blake Treinen.

Z: ZACH BRITTON — The previous Orioles nearer was famously left in the bullpen by supervisor Buck Showalter throughout a tense 2016 wild-card loss to Toronto. Now a setup man with the Yankees, Britton will virtually definitely see motion towards Oakland on this yr’s AL wild-card recreation, save state of affairs or not.

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