Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us. As baseball finally moves into its 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 of the MLB playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Cincinnati Reds, and their chances of securing a ring in 2020.
A first-round matchup with the Marlins looks likely and should be a cakewalk because Miami doesn’t belong here. They’ll likely go on to face the Braves, which will prove to be a tougher matchup. But the last time the Cubs clinched the NL Central was the year after they broke a curse that was over a century old. So they were still riding a high. This time around, they’re unlikely to ride that wave all the way to the World Series. Why? The Dodgers exist and they will be a brick wall the Cubbies run straight into and can’t get past. This isn’t the 2016 Dodgers… we think.
What’s Working for Them: The Top of the Rotation
Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks have carried this team, and in order to even meet expectations, they’ll need to continue to do so. Round them out with postseason veteran Jon Lester and they should be rock solid. Lester brings a playoff pedigree that so few have, having hoisted the World Series trophy for both the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. His track record will be clutch and experience necessary for the Northside boys to get back to the Series.
What Might Hold Them Back: Inconsistencies at the plate and no “go-to” arm
While the Cubs did clinch the NL Central, they did so because of riding their rotation. The offensive side of things hasn’t been sunshine and roses throughout the year.
If this team wants to make a run they need to do more than try to slug for the fences. Do the little things. Move the runners along, pull a hit and run on a 2-1 count, sacrifice bunt if the time is right. They’re going to need to round out every aspect of their game to compete with some of the best staffs in the league.
David Ross has been going with a closer by committee. Jeremy Jeffress, Craig Kimbrel, and Rowan Wick have been doing the job to this point. However, Wick has landed himself on the DL, leaving questions about how Ross will play things out. If one of their arms gets hot, does he ride that out to have a better chance of victory?
Storyline to Watch
Technically David Ross’ boys have the pieces for a deep run. They have fan-favorite sluggers, a solid rotation, and a plethora of bullpen arms. The question really comes back to can the likes of Darvish and Hendricks continue to carry things? Or will their shoulders get a bit too sore?
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