MLB Week in Review (October 2-8)

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The postseason is underway in the MLB and the debates over what is most important in the second season have already started.

It is mainly because this year there are so many teams that have done it so many different ways to get to this point.

There are the home run kings in the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros who have hit more homers than any other team.

There are the offensive kings like the Jays and New York Yankees who score more runs than anyone.

There is the small ball team in the Kansas City Royals who like to manufacture runs rather than hit it out of the park.

There are the pitching specialists like the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers who depend on their staffs to do the grunt work.

Then there are those all-around teams that aren’t great at any one thing but are solid in most aspects like the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals.

Every team is hoping that their way is the right way and that their strategies carry into the postseason and carry them to the World Series.

As good as all of these teams are and as successful as these strategies have been in the regular season there is a constant theme in the postseason of successful teams.

Pitching seems to be king in the postseason and it is not necessarily having an entire staff that pitches lights out.

Last year was the postseason of MadBum for the San Francisco Giants. Madison Bumgarner was the arm that the Giants relied on last year and the rest of the staff pitched well enough to get them from the wild card game to the World Series.

He was the guy that they leaned on all the time to pitch important games and there were plenty of them in their run to the title.

So far there are two teams that could be following that plan to a tee. Both the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs did not have the best seasons in terms of the postseason teams.

They finished with the last postseason spots in each league, although better than more than half of the MLB.baseball-sidebar

They went into their away games for single elimination and relied on their best pitchers in the game to shut down their opponents.

For the Astros it was Dallas Keuchel who is considered the favourite for the AL Cy Young Award this year.

Against a very good offensive team, although they had gotten cold in recent weeks, Keuchel was great. He went 3 innings striking out 7 and allowing only three hits with no runs.

The win pushed them into the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals where they won the first game.

Keuchel is likely the arm that the Astros will lean on to get the wins that they need this year. If he can pitch like he did in the wild card game the Astros could be looking at another Bumgarner-like performance.

Keuchel is not the only one though as the Cubs had their own pitcher that they can lean on this postseason.

Jake Arrieta might not be a favourite for the NL Cy Young but when games are important he comes through.

Against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card, Arrieta was almost unhittable. He went nine innings allowing four runs, no hits, and struck out eleven batters on his way to the first win of the postseason.

Much like the Pirates, the Cubs will likely lean on Arrieta to lead them as they look for another MadBum in 2015.

The ALDS did not see any of these great pitching performances while the National League is expected to see plenty when they begin on Friday.

So far the wild card teams are following the pattern set by the Giants last year who eventually won the World Series.

Only time will tell how much they depend on their big starters throughout the first series and beyond if they make it further.

As the postseason goes on it will only get tougher though and these pitchers could crumble under that pressure as neither have seen the pressure of postseason yet.

One could emerge though and could lead his team to the finals as pitching has always proved to be important and so far Keuchel and Arrieta have become front-runners for the MVP of the postseason after four games.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Home Disadvantage?
Teams had been fighting for the last few days of the season to earn home field advantage but it turns out it is not as effective as first thought as the home teams have gone 0-4 in the first games of the postseason

Back to the Future vs .The Goat
The Chicago Cubs are a team of superstitions and this year they will try to battle the Curse of the Billy Goat with the Back to the Future prediction that the Cubs were going to win the World Series in 2015 adding some interesting talk about their already impressive run

History in the booth
The sports broadcasting world is not necessarily known for the diversity but it did take a step this week when Jessica Mendoza became the first female announcer to announce an MLB postseason game when she was in the booth for the AL Wild Card game

The Cover Curse
Baseball in general has always been a superstitious sport but the Sports Illustrated curse translates through all sports and if it has any power the promising Jays, who made the postseason preview cover, might disappoint

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