Journey to the World Series


John Sharbaugh

Welcome to Postseason baseball where a hanging curveball or a pinch-hit single can mean the difference between winning and losing, moving on and going home, being forgotten and immortality. Starting in late March, 32 teams have battled to clinch the six division spots and four Wild Card spots. It came down to the last game of the season, but the spots were decided.

For the American League, the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros won their respective divisions. The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics were the Wild Cards. On October 2nd, the AL Wild Card Game was played. The Rays easily handled the A’s, winning by a score of 5-1. They moved on to the American League Divisional Series against the Astros. The Twins and Yankees are the other ALDS matchup.

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and St. Louis Cardinals were their division champs. The Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers earned their shot at playoff glory, securing the two Wild Card spots. On October 1, they battled in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Through the 7th, the Brewers held their lead. In the bottom of the 8th, 20-year-old Juan Soto hit a bases clearing double, scoring three runs and putting the Nationals ahead 4-3. This victory sent them to Los Angeles to battle the Dodgers. This is LA’s seventh straight division title. They hope to redeem themselves after two straight World Series loses. Atlanta vs. St. Louis is the other National League Divisional Series matchup. 

Pitching will make or break the season for the remaining teams. In the AL, the Astros have the advantage with the two Cy Young Award candidates, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. While Houston has the individual talent, Tampa Bay has the team talent. In the regular season, they had the second-lowest team Earned Run Average (ERA) in all of baseball. The Dodgers are the team with the lowest. Their staff includes multiple Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, young but proven Walker Buehler, MLB ERA champion Hyun-jin Ryu, and a deep bullpen headed by closer Kenley Jansen. Their NLDS opponent is not without pitching either. The Nationals have perhaps the second best one-two punch, rivaled only by Cole and Verlander. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg head into the postseason both in the top 20 for strikeouts, ERA, opponents batting average, and Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) on the season. 

Offense will also prove to be a factor in the playoffs. Six of the playoff teams were in the top 10 in home runs on. The Yankees broke the single-season home run record for a team only to have it broken by the Twins a few games later. Yankees hope to get production from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the latter who was injured for a majority of the year. Luke Voit is another young player who can go deep in every at-bat. Houston has the most complete line-up, top to bottom. A combination of young talent and experienced veterans lead them to the brink of the World Series last year, only to be eliminated by the future World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. The National League also has formidable batters. Outfielder Cody Bellinger seems like he will be the MVP with his consistent average and home run total. His Dodger teammates ranked fourth in the league in home runs. No matter the matchups, though, this Postseason has the makings to become one of the most remarkable in recent history.