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.
Expectations: Maybe the NLCS?
In our pre-season peek at the Reds, we had them still being a year away from “true contention”. Of course, that was before COVID arrived on our doorstep and 2020 was turned on its head. Thanks to a truncated season and an expanded playoff pool, the Reds have punched their ticket. Given the roll they’re on, if the chips were to fall right I think they could potentially make it to the NLCS. Given how stacked the other half of the NL bracket is, I think that’s as far as they can get. Then again – it’s 2020.
What’s Working For Them: Getting Hot at the Right Time
During the offseason, ownership made a handful of moves that made it clear their play was to be playing in October. Offensively, they signed Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to bolster a lineup that already featured the likes of Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez. Their rotation was highly touted and expected to pay big dividends this year. Excitement for this team’s potential was soaring in Cincinnati.
That potential took a while to show up, however. In the first month of the season, pretty much everyone not named Castellanos was struggling. The pitching propped the team up as best it could, but it still led to a 9-11 record out of the gate. A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t give them much of a chance to make it to October baseball, but they found their swagger of late. Since September 13th they’ve gone 10-3 and will look to continue rolling in the postseason.
What Might Hold Them Back: Losing Steam
Having reached goal #1 – making the playoffs – will the team be able to keep the momentum? After clinching on Friday night, the team went out and lost to Minnesota 7-3 on Saturday. I know it’s only one game, and we can probably chalk it up to having partied a bit in celebrating their playoff berth, but as with everything else in this season, the stakes are that much higher.
Storyline to Watch: Going Yard
The jet engine that propelled the Reds in these last two weeks, and really throughout the year, has been the home run. More than 60% of the runs scored by the Reds this season have been via the round-tripper. Will the bats continue at that pace or will they cool off, putting more pressure on the pitching staff to shut down opposing offenses?
Whatever October holds for this team, they’re trending in the right direction, which should make their opponent nervous, regardless of who they end up facing.
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