Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us. As baseball finally moves into it’s Bubble phase, 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s World Series champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The MLB is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each MLB playoff series and diving into what’s at stake for each team, how they stack up, and the keys to victory for each squad.
So, let’s check-in ahead of the Wild Card series between the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals.
The last time the Padres made the postseason was 2006 when Bruce Bochy was their manager and Mike Cameron their best player. Now they’re in the playoffs. The Padres are an explosive team, and have shown up in 2020. A Wild Card spot seemed probable, but a second-place divisional finish is incredible.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the 5th-seed in the National League, but somehow didn’t clinch their spot until the final day. That’s a perfect metaphor for how 2020 has gone for them.
The Cardinals are the definition of decent this season as they finish two games above .500. Doing just enough to keep their heads above water has been the name of the game for St. Louis, and you know what? It worked. However, to think that this team is going to magically grow legs in the postseason is a pipedream.
Padres Keys to Victory: Keep On Keepin’ On
The Padres enter the 2020 postseason on a 15-8 run in the month of September. Maintaining that momentum is key to their success in the postseason, especially against a Cardinals team that almost barely snuck in.
The Padres explosive, offensive juggernaut of a lineup is one that wopuld make any baseball fan salivate over. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is arguably the most exciting player in MLB, and his 2020 sophomore season is proof of that fact. Manny Machado is having another incredible year, similar to the one that saw him dealt at the deadline in 2018.
But it’s the sneaky bats of Wil Myers, Jake Croenworth, Trent Grisham, and even Eric Hosmer that really are where this lineup heats up. Specifically looking at Myers, the former Rookie of the Year has a higher Slugging% than the aforementioned Tatis, Jr., and Machado. Myers hits in the middle of this lineup, yet rakes like a three-hole hitter.
This Padres team can flat out hit. But the Cardinals should already be aware of that.
This Padres team is playing with house money in 2020, so all they really have to do is keep swinging hot bats, putting up runs and collecting Ws. It’s really that simple, and this Padres team has done that with style, swagger and a smile.
Cardinals Keys to Victory: Channel the 2019 Cardinals
This Cardinals team has not lived up to the hype they came into the season with, and it’s not even close. From NL runner-up in 2019, to clinching your playoff berth on the final day, closing out the season alternating wins with the elimated Royals and struggling Bewers, this Cardinals team has failed across the board.
What’s more interesting is that this is more or less the same Cardinals lineup from last year.
If the Cardinals can dig down deep and find themselves, they might have a chance at surprising a lot of people. The Cardinals have experience in spades, something the Padres don’t have. HArness that experience, show up in big games, and win. That’s the gameplan.
Final Call: Padres in 2
The Dads are just too hot, and this Cardinals team is too cold. If this was a Wild Card game, this is different, but the Padres are too explosive, too young and too super charged at this point.
If you’re a Cardinals fan, let’s just hop it’s not insanely lopsided.
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The Turf Staff is not going to let this one slide...
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If you didn't think I was going to try and ride the coat tails...