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 Houston Astros and their chances of securing a ring in 2020.
The Houston Astros
Expectations: Wild Card Exit
The 2020 Houston Astros were not what any expected them to be. In a year where they spent more time defending their World Series victory than defending their AL Championship status, the Astros have returned to Earth. And in any other year, for Houston, this would be a problem.
However, Dusty Baker revived the Astros and put them on a course for a .500 finish and a playoff berth, and that’s just about as much as anyone can expect.
What’s Working for Them: Playing in a Weakened AL West and Dusty Baker
The Astros are the worst AL team to make the playoffs, and tied for the worst MLB team to make the playoffs in 2020. If the Astros played in any other division, they’d be missing the playoffs. That’s a fact.
Instead, while paying in a weak AL West, the Astros fell into second place and will fail their way into the playoffs. It’s good to know that if things don’t pick up in the division down the road, you can fall upwards into a playoff spot.
All that aside, Dusty Baker has been a godsend for this Astros team. This marks the fifth team that Baker has taken to the playoffs in his managerial career, making him the first MLB manager to do so. If you’re looking for a reason as to why this team hasn’t absolutely cratered, you have to give credit to Dusty Baker.
What Might Hold Them Back: Inexperience
This appears to be a theme in this year’s postseason. Lots of new blood showing up in the 2020 playoffs, and the Astros have their fair share. That’s not to say that they don’t have the ability, but this is a completely different look for the Astros in the postseason.
In 2019, their rotation had Greinke, Verlander, and Gerrit Cole. Now, they have to put their trust in Greinke, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy, and Christian Javier. That’s a very different feeling in 2020.
Storyline to Watch: Well… There’s that one thing…
And there will be a lot of people rooting against the Astros, wanting to see their hatred vindicated, wishing nothing but sadness upon Houston, holding disdain for things outside of the scandal as well. That’s something the Astros have played with this season, and will in the future.
This postseason will more assuredly be filled with trash can jokes and Ace of Base’s “I Saw The Sign.” That’s the new normal.
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