2022 MLB Postseason Welcomes New Format
Published 10:36 am Friday, September 30, 2022
The 2022 Major League Baseball season has been filled with storylines. From Freddie Freeman taking his talents to the west coast and joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge breaking Roger Maris’ home run record, the 2022 season has rejuvenated life into the game of baseball.
Now the 2022 season rolls into the playoffs and there are plenty of interesting storylines and teams to watch out for heading into October. For starters, MLB is trying out a new playoff format that increases both the pool of teams and the Wild Card round.
All together, 12 teams (six from each league) will earn a playoff spot which is an increase from ten teams in the previous years format. Three division winners plus three wild card teams will make up the playoff bracket from both leagues.
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The top two seeds from each league will receive a first round bye and an automatic spot in the Divisional Series. Seeds three through six will take part in a best of three Wild Card Series to see who advances to the Divisional Series.
With the new format, I think it gives fans more playoff baseball and it allows teams in a Wild Card spot to have more opportunities to advance rather than a one game winner take all.
There are a number of teams that I could see making a run this postseason so what I have done is divided the playoff teams into three categories. Championship caliber, teams who could get hot, and good but not great.
In the American League, I think the two championship caliber teams are the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. These teams have been destined to meet in the playoffs since the Astros were punished for their cheating scandal in 2017. I think an Astros vs Yankees American League Championship Series would be great for baseball, great for baseball fans and toxic for Yankee and Astro fans.
In that series I would lean more towards the Astros because of their defensive strengths. The pitching staff led by the veteran Justin Verlander alongside the young talents of Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia put the Astros staff among the best in baseball and I think can really give opponents trouble.
That being said, the team that has the best opportunity to compete with the Astros is the Yankees. The Yankees have probably the most powerful lineup in baseball with MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge, along with Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, and Josh Donaldson. Although their pitching has been a weak spot, I think a staff of Gerrit Cole, Jamison Taillon, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino can muster up some playoff momentum.
I still would pick the Astros in a seven game series but the beauty of playoff baseball is that anything can happen.
In the National League there are so many interesting teams who I could see being a championship team. Let’s start with the team to beat; the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are viewed as a Goliath-type of opponent and deservedly so as their lineup is filled with superstars. Their lineup has three former MVPs in Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts alongside All-Stars Trae Turner, Will Smith, Justin Turner and Max Muncy. The Dodgers can flat out hit and score runs from any part of their lineup which is scary for a pitching staff.
However, the Dodgers have shown a slight weak spot in their pitching. The Dodgers do have two really strong pitchers in Julio Urias and Tyler Anderson, however their ace Walker Buehler has been shut down for the season with an injury.
With the uncertainty of their pitching along with their history of being upset in the postseason, do not be surprised if the Dodgers get knocked off.
Unfortunately for me as a Philadelphia Phillies fan, the two teams I think that have the ability to knock off the Dodgers are the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Let’s start with the Mets.
The Mets have had an incredible season posting a top three record in all of baseball and have a very complete roster. Although they aren’t filled with sluggers like the Yankees and Dodgers, their offense is extremely productive. Fransisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso all are potentially dangerous for opposing pitchers.
The Mets pitching staff is one you do not want to face in the postseason as Jacob deGrom goes into the postseason fully healthy for the first time since 2015. The Mets also added 2019 World Series Champion Max Scherzer to their staff in the offseason which makes him and deGrom the best one-two punch in all of baseball.
However, never count out a Champion. The 2021 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves are a different team in 2022, but I think they’re just as good, if not better. Just one game behind the Mets, the Braves are having an unprecedented 2022 season that seems like nobody is talking about.
Most importantly, the Braves are winning without their big names. Freddie Freeman is doing his thing in LA, Ronald Acuna Jr is still trying to get his knee to 100% after last season’s injury and Ozzie Albies has been off and on with injuries all season. The Braves have two rookie of the year candidates in outfielder Michael Harris and pitcher Spencer Strider. Their lineup is still consistent with Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Matt Olson and their pitching staff of Strider, Kyle Wright, Max Fried and Charlie Morton is right up there with the Mets’ staff as one of the best in baseball.
I think baseball fans are in for an exciting 2022 Postseason and it all starts with the new Wild Card Series beginning on Friday Oct. 7.