The MLB Postseason has arrived

Bring on the drama of October baseball

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The MLB Postseason has arrived

This shiny Commissioner’s Trophy awaits the team that survives the gauntlet of the 2019 Postseason.

This shiny Commissioner’s Trophy awaits the team that survives the gauntlet of the 2019 Postseason.

This shiny Commissioner’s Trophy awaits the team that survives the gauntlet of the 2019 Postseason.

This shiny Commissioner’s Trophy awaits the team that survives the gauntlet of the 2019 Postseason.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

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After a long 162 game season, it is finally time for the 2019 MLB Postseason. There is truly nothing like October baseball, with fans packing the stadiums and living and dying with every pitch and every fly ball. The suspense and drama are unrivaled. For the first time since 2013, the fans of the local Tampa Bay Rays will also be able to experience this intensity and gripping entertainment. The Rays rode a torrid 17-8 September to clinch the second wild card in the American League with a record of 96-66. Tampa Bay also showed a flair for the dramatic during the stretch run, winning four games in September on walk-offs. The likes of Charlie Morton, Ji-Man Choi, and Austin Meadows were instrumental to the Rays returning to the playoffs. Now, let’s meet the other nine teams that will also be vying for a World Series championship in the coming weeks.

The first round of the postseason is the wild card games. In the AL, the Rays traveled to Oakland to face the Athletics. The A’s have a deep and balanced lineup led by the likes of Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien and, similarly to Tampa Bay, were coming into October red hot. Nonetheless, a dominant pitching performance from Morton and two huge home runs from Yandy Diaz were the difference as the Rays prevailed 5-1 and silenced the 54,000 in attendance at the Oakland Coliseum. The Houston Astros, the Rays’ opponent in the ALDS, will have no cake walk with this hungry squad.

The Astros are the odds-on favorite to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy, and understandably so. There are no glaring holes in this Houston team, which is lead by a three headed monster of starting pitchers that includes Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke and a potent lineup headlined by Alex Bregman. The other ALDS series will feature a familiar matchup between the Twins and Yankees. In recent postseason history, New York has dominated this matchup, and stars like Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu will look to continue this trend. The Twins, however, who won the regular season homerun battle by a single blast over these very same Yankees, will have something to say about that with their group of sluggers led by Nelson Cruz.

In the National League, the wild card game pitted the streaking Brewers against the Nationals in DC. The Nats, who have had a recent history of postseason failure, appeared to be well on their way to a similar fate when they entered the eighth inning trailing 3-1. Stunningly, they were able to load the bases against Milwaukee’s closer, Josh Hader, with second-year star Juan Soto coming to the plate. Soto delivered for the first classic moment of this postseason, driving a single into right field that, with the help of an error, cleared the bases and gave Washington a 4-3 win. The Nationals’ victory earned them a trip to LA to face the Dodgers, who more than any other club are in a World Series or bust mindset. After falling in the Fall Classic in 2017 and 2018, nothing short of a championship will suffice for Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, and the Dodger faithful.

The Braves and Cardinals, however, wouldn’t mind seeing a new team representing the NL in the World Series. Atlanta is powered by one of baseball’s best lineups, including studs like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. The Cardinals surged to the NL Central crown on the back of hot streaks from starter Jack Flaherty and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

There are clear favorites in this year’s postseason, namely the Astros and Dodgers, but part of what makes October baseball so captivating is the unpredictability of it. Even the Rays, who have been given the longest odds by Vegas to win the World Series, could get hot and go all the way. You can bet that they would like nothing more than to continue proving doubters wrong.

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