MLB revamps postseason play with extended wildcard round

This years unprecedented playoffs challenged all teams who qualified for the postseason to kick off play in the wild card series. The MLB Division Series playoffs began on Oct.5.

Courtesy of Chriki24 / Creative Commons

This year’s unprecedented playoffs challenged all teams who qualified for the postseason to kick off play in the wild card series. The MLB Division Series playoffs began on Oct.5.

An unlikely year calls for an unlikely MLB postseason. This year 16 teams made it to the playoffs, eight from the American League (AL)  and eight from the National League (NL). The MLB has increased the amount of postseason games to a possible 65, compared to the maximum of 43 in previous years.

The reason for adding more games to the postseason is so teams who lost revenue due to COVID-19 and suffered an inability to sell tickets now have a chance to sell to networks. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark explained that “the opportunity to add playoff games in this already-abbreviated season makes sense for fans, the league and players. We hope it will result in highly competitive pennant races as well as exciting additional playoff games to the benefit of the industry and all involved heading into next year.”

The Wild Card Series began Tuesday, Sept. 29, in which the best of three concluded on Oct 2.

In the AL, the Tampa Bay Rays won both games over  the Toronto Blue Jays, triumphing  8-2. The Cleveland Indians lost to the New York Yankees 10-9. Elsewhere, the  controversial Houston Astros were the first team to advance, winning their game against the Minnesota Twins 3-1. The Oakland A’s won 5-3 against the Chicago White Sox. The Oakland A’s, ranked No. 1 in the west, are set to play the second ranked west team, the Houston Astros, on Mon. Oct. 5 at the neutral Dodger Stadium. As for the eastern second ranked Yankees, they are set to play the No.1 Rays at San Diego’s Petco Park.

The NL Wild Card Series started with the LA Dodgers beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2, while the St. Louis Cardinals lost 11-9 to the San Diego Padres. The Chicago Cubs, who were first in the NL Central region series, fell short to the Miami Marlins 5-1. The Atlanta Braves took it all against the Cincinnati Reds 1-0. The NL Division Series has set the No.1 NL West Team against their fourth ranked rival, the San Diego Padres, at Arlignton’s Globe Life Field. The Atlanta Braves, the No.1 team in NL East, are matched up against the second-ranked Miami Marlins and are set to play at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Proven to always have a rocky season with an interesting outcome, The Houston Astros now have the opportunity to reach their fourth consecutive American League Championship Series (ALCS). The Astros’ cheating scandal has them hated by many, most notably LA Dodgers fans. What do fans have to say now that they have seen the Astros play by the rules this year and still advance? After beating the Twins, Carlos Correa stated it perfectly, “I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here. But what are they going to say now?”

As much as I adore the team, I did not see the Astros advancing to the 2020 postseason. The team ended the unordinary season with 27 wins and 33 losses compared to the LA Dodgers with a record of 43-17.  With Justin Verlander and his Tommy John surgery, he is now predicted to be out for the next 14 months and may be back for the 2022 season. His above average Earned Run Average (ERA) of 3.33 will be missed for these next few rounds of games. 

An awkward and uncomfortable moment to be on the lookout for during the Division Series (ALDS) is the Oakland A’s matchup with the Astros. The former Astros player turned-Dodgers pitcher Mike Fiers is the 300th no-hitter in MLB history. Aside from this impressive statistic, he is also the same player who first pointed out that the Astros stole signs in the 2017-18 season. Fiers is yet to be mentioned all season and coaches are avoiding placing the pitcher on the starting lineup of every game against the Astros.

I have a feeling this will be the game Fiers is placed to start against the Astros, which could possibly cost the Houston team the round, considering the tension behind the whistleblower and his former teammates. However, the Astros have proved time after time that those who are skeptical of their ability to win fairly are in fact mistaken. 

The A’s v. Astros games one through three of the ALDS will be broadcast on TBS Monday, Oct. 5 at 3:00p ET, Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, with times to be determined.