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Answering the biggest question marks ahead of the 2022 MLB playoffs

Biggest question marks answered before the 2022 MLB playoffs

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    What’s not to like about the Dodgers? (Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    All 12 seats are locked, the game is scheduled to start on Friday, it’s time Get the latest on MLB’s 2022 playoffs.

    Is there a problem? Well, we have the answer.

    That said, we have answers to what we think are the biggest looming questions hanging around Every one of the dozen teams scheduled to play in this year’s playoffs. These care about what (if any) concerns or weaknesses they have and how to overcome them. We’ll go one team at a time, starting with the American League and ending with the National League.

    Houston Astros: Where are their weaknesses?

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      Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Short answer: Squint and you’ll see them.

    The Houston Astros seem as strong as the Dominators.

    Their record is 104-56 -208 running differential. Their offensive quartet of Yordan Álvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker was simply intimidating, as were partners Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. The entire team has plenty of playoff experience.

    But that’s only a fraction of what Houston is worried about, it’s not entirely empty . One concern is that this year’s offense is not as strong as the elite iterations of 2017, 2019 and 2021 year. That’s thanks to a relative lack of catchers, first base and midfield, and the absence of the brilliant Michael Brantley due to shoulder surgery. While Houston’s bullpen has MLB’s lowest ERA of 2.81, Ryan Pressly isn’t the scariest either. He’s good overall, but he’s also easy to hit occasionally, and he’s scored in four of his last 11 games.

New York Yankees: What can they do to keep the team from pitching around Aaron Judge?

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    Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Short answer:

They can do at least one thing. The New York Yankees are only 37-38 since a historic 61-23 start , but their AL-best plus-242-point differential is still a good excuse for their high chance of returning to the World Series for the first time since 2009. In theory, having the most fearsome hitter in baseball helps, too. That was Aaron Judge, who went out with a .311/.426/.686 slash and an AL-record 61 homers. But what if beating the Yankees in the playoffs was as easy as pitching around the judges?

Talkin’ Yanks @TalkinYanks

Toronto boos spring up as Goldsman walks judge

That approach has been put to the test recently, as the 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugger has walked 17 times in his last 11 games. Thanks for his willingness to take those free passes, but he froze when he only collected six hits and one homer. While the Yankees won seven of those games, it wasn’t all through a sustained offense onslaught. It was a hint that they were taking pre-emptive measures, such as getting the judges off the starting point and back on the 2nd hole.

Cleveland Guardians: Can their offense keep up?

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    Michael Reeves/Getty Images

    Short answer: Someone might have to pull the 2015 Daniel Murphy. Even though the Cleveland Guards are 90-70 and the AL Central champs, some suspect they are in the U.S. Teams that beat in the league. The Astros and Yankees exist after all, and both won season series with the Guardians race. There’s also AL Central’s recent history issue in October. Since 2017, the division’s representatives have gone 4-19 in the playoffs and the Guardians are capable of deep runs. They hit just 126 home runs all season, leading only the Detroit Tigers. That’s a potentially catastrophic weakness, given how often long passes have been associated with success over the past 10 playoffs. To be fair, the Guardians’ collective talent for connecting may have them going where everyone else is going. Time to go to the World Series. Failing that, they may need someone to unexpectedly help Power Division 29-homer Jose Ramirez.

    Toronto Blue Jays: Can they play with a team of their size?

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      Mark Brinker/Getty Images

      Short answer: If they keep playing like they’ve been lately, they can.

      The hype for the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the 2022 season, perhaps nowhere near their best chance at American League ball The fact that the team’s World Series is on is even better. So it’s a little disappointing that the Blue Jays only made the playoffs as wild cards and not as AL East champions.

      One of their more specific disappointments was punching in their weight range. Toronto is 51-23 against the losing team, but only 39-46 against the other winning teams . Notably, the Jays lost the season series to the Yankees, Guards, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. Damn? you bet. But their doom? uncertain.

      Toronto is hot, winning 29 of 44 games since Aug. 18. The run includes a 15-10 performance against teams with a record of .500 or better, and there’s reason to hope the Jays will be able to pick a team of their size after all.

      Seattle Mariners: Eugenio Suarez and Julio Rodri How healthy is Gus?

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        Stephen Chambers/Getty Images

        Short answer: This is a crossover situation.

        In 2001, the Seattle Mariners returned to the playoffs for the first time. That alone deserves a proper celebration, even the dance party.

        Seattle Mariners @Mariners

        We’re going to dance

        NOW COMES THE Mariners Haven’t Been Since the Team’s inception in 1977 The hard part of getting over the place: the World Series.

        Ultimately what will determine the success of the M team is whether they can call up enough offense to support the bigger players in MLB. One of the good pitchers. It may depend on the happiness of the two stars in a mediocre scoring offense.

        They’ll be third baseman Eugenio Suárez and rookie center fielder Julio Rodríguez, both of whom have recently left Injured list. The former missed time with a fractured right index finger, while the latter had to sit due to a back strain. As Rodriguez left Illinois on Monday, Suarez has been batting hard since returning last Tuesday , as the playoffs loom, both are likely to be in worse shape. However, if there are any setbacks on either side, it’s hard to imagine that the Mariners won’t be in trouble.

      Tampa Bay Rays: Why does anyone believe them now?

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        Giulio Aguilar/Getty picture

        Short answer: Counting the number of lights is never a good idea. If there’s one team that looks lucky in the American League playoffs, it’s gotta be Tampa Bay Rays.

        They were 3.5 games behind the Yankees 78-58 on Sept. 9, but they are in the past Only 8 of 24 games have been won. The offense has been the same, and so-called ace Shane McClanahan has a 5.21 ERA since returning from a shoulder injury.

        As an excuse to count the rays, this one is not bad. Another is an extensive list of actual injuries and minor pains they are dealing with right now.

        However, despite that, the under-selling on Rays feels like a mistake.

      Worth trusting any offense led by Wander Franco and “Playoff Randy” Arrosarena . Jeffrey Springs is an underrated thrower. Tyler Glassnow’s return from Tommy John surgery is a potentially huge development. Even McLanahan wasn’t as mortal as he suddenly seemed, because despite his struggles, his fastball speed remained strong.

      Los Angeles Dodgers: Who they can trust closure?

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        Kaiwok Jansezian/Getty Images

        Short answer: Well, definitely not grams Reg Kimbrel.

        The Los Angeles Dodgers are a 110-win team with a 332-point advantage, so call them regulars One of the greatest teams in the game is nothing more than a team in Major League Baseball history.

        As for whether they can keep rolling in the playoffs, “yes” is a safe bet In a starting rotation with the best offense and a league-best 2.80 ERA, the Dodgers have two things that bode well for October’s success. But if you’re wondering who’s going to get the all-important last three outs for them, “good question” is the only answer anyone can provide right now. Eight-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel is closing out for the Dodgers, but he Quit my job in September. Without an obvious Plan B, it’s now a situation closer to committee. Because he can get his fastball up to 103 mph, Brusdar Graterol certainly has the most The right arm for the job. Yet given that if we pull the lever in the head of GM Dave Roberts, Evan Phillips will be our man, if we pull the lever in the head of GM Dave Roberts, he only allowed two home runs in 63 innings , but he hit 77 points.

        Atlanta: Is there anything to stop the repetition?

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        Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Short answer: Maybe it’s just history now.

        Atlanta has the best record in MLB since June and just swept New York University Metropolis, nearly won the NL East title. So yes, things are going well.

        Well, actually, the only question right now might be if anything can stop Atlanta from becoming World Series Champion. This is where we have no choice but to pick faults, all-or-nothing offense from Atlanta Quality begins. Its long-ball prowess is undisputed, but its .317 on-base percentage is nothing special. Some key players — namely Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley — have also been cool since early September. In pitching, Atlanta’s concerns include breakout ace Spencer Stryder The oblique injury and Kenley Jensen’s occasional unreliability in the ninth inning. He’s running well now, but not so long ago, he had 11 minutes and a 7.45 ERA.

        But that’s just nitpicking. Since no one has won another World Series since the 1998-2000 Yankees, recent history may be the only thing against Atlanta.

        stone. St. Louis Cardinals: Will Paul Goldschmidt shake off his fears?

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          Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

        Short answer: Hard to count on it.

        The St. Louis Cardinals may be more of a threat in October than their 92-67 record suggests be big. They’ve been going full steam ahead for a while, winning 41 of 62 games since July 27.

        But what should be their best hitter has been one of their worst lately.

        Just on September 7, Paul Goldschmidt had a .329 average , 35 homers and 108 at-bats into the Triple Crown. Since then, he’s hit just 0.254 home runs and six RBIs in 20 games, and that’s pretty much a “flutter” of words.

        doom? Actually, not so much. The veteran’s strikeout rate soared to 27.3 percent during that period, with fastballs directed at him noticeably moving inwards more during that period:

        Figure from Baseball Expert

        Since Goldschmidt has only hit .320 on the heater in the inner half since early September, this is One strategy clearly worked. So his resurgence depends on whether he makes adjustments that he hasn’t made yet.

  1. New York Mets : Are Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer enough?

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      Jim McIsaac/ Getty Images

Short answer: If recent events are any indication, maybe not. Although the Mets took a big hit in Atlanta last weekend, their 98-61 record has Good enough, maybe it’s a comfort to lead the other three divisions? If nothing else, the Mets are still worth believing because Jacob De Grom and Max Scherzer. The two righties have five Cy Young awards between them, not to mention a 2.83 ERA and 11.1 ERA since deGrom left Illinois on Aug. 2. . While the ace duo is conceptually unmatched, reality paints a different picture screen. The Mets are just 10-10 in their last 20 games with DeGrom and Scherzer starting. This hints at the shortcomings of their lineup, especially on offense. The Mets are very good at putting runners on base, but the relative walking power is one of the things that makes it more challenging to get them home.

Sweeping Atlanta is a useful illustration of why the Mets can’t simply rely on deGrom and Sherlock Erze to win the game. They did a good job, but it was in vain as the Mets went 7-3 with a 14-7 lead.

    San Diego Padres Team: Can they win if their new bat doesn’t end up showing up?

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  1. Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Short answer: They would be better. One of the big post-trade deadline awards for the San Diego Padres has changed his narrative in recent weeks. After being shelled to a 17.55 ERA in his first nine appearances as the Padres, Josh Josh Hader is not allowed to play in any of his last 10 games. He also struck out 13 times, walked 1, and allowed only 4 hits. If the Padres can get Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury to reverse situation:

    Before adding SD: 143 wRC+, 55 HR
    Since joining SD: 108 wRC+, 17 Human Resources Sotto has been doing his part, in the last 14 games , he went 17-for-52 with three home runs. Bell last hit a homer on Sept. 6, and the same can’t be said for Drury, who has hit just one since Sept. 17. If their new addition finally provides the support Manny Machado has been lacking, then the Padres will have a chance to claim their first World Series title. If not, the mediocrity (ie, 28-26) that has defined the Padres since the trade deadline could become their doom in October.

    Philadelphia Phillies: Is their latest funk a sign of things to come Things that happened?

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    1. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

      Short answer: Don’t be so sure. The Philadelphia Phillies had a slump this year under head coach Joe Girardi, but then they blocked him and won 58 in their next 91 games. If this feels like a distant memory now, the 7-11 game was Critical moments will have such an effect. So there’s little stopping a generally “meh” team like the Milwaukee Brewers in the final NL playoff spot.

      Yet we suggest: The Phillies are not the team that anyone should face in October.

      Their offense can’t be underestimated, especially if Bryce Harper finds out he’s a two-time MVP The state could better support Kyle Schwaber, JT Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins. Meanwhile, the Phillies’ top three Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suárez have a 2.83 ERA dating back to July 16. If those parts prove to be as good on the court as they are on paper, the Phillies’ recent performance could be Their failure was more of an ill-timed blip.

    Statistics provided by Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Experts.



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