The MLB postseason is upon us. The 2022 regular season ends on Wednesday, and the playoffs begin on Friday with four Wild Card games. I will look at the teams’ pitching staffs that will play beyond Wednesday.
While the conclusion of the regular season is near, there are still a few things left to be decided. The NL East appears to be going down to the wire, as does the final Wild Card spot in the league.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the major’s best record and will be the No. 1 seed in the National League. The Atlanta Braves lead the New York Mets by two games in the NL and the league’s all-important second seed. The team that does not win the division will get the fourth seed and host the fifth seed.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the third seed, and they will host either the Philadelphia Phillies or Milwaukee Brewers in the opening round of the postseason though it also could be the San Diego Padres. The Phillies have won three straight and clinched a playoff berth with their victory over Houston on Monday night. The Phillies are just one-game back of the Padres.
The picture is much clearer in the American League. The Houston Astros are the top seed and own the majors’ second-best record. The New York Yankees will be the second seed, and the Cleveland Indians will be the third seed.
The Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and the Tampa Bay Rays have all secured a wild card spot. It appears that the Blue Jays will earn the top wildcard spot as they have won four straight and hold a 3.5-lead over the Mariners for the top wildcard spot. Meanwhile, the Mariners are destined for the fifth spot with a 1.5 edge over the Rays though Seattle has played one fewer contest.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have the top starting rotation and No. 1 MLB pitching staff in the majors. This is despite Clayton Kershaw missing nine starts and Tony Gonsolin, currently on IL, missing seven starts. Meanwhile, Walker Buehler only made 12 starts, and Dustin May, currently dealing with a back issue, went to the hill six times.
In other words, the Dodgers have a loaded and talented staff. All four of the Dodgers starters that made at least 20 appearances have double-digit wins. Julio Urias, who has arguably been more effective this year than a year ago when he won 20 games, is expected to get the ball in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Kershaw is slated to get the ball in Game 2 of the MLB NLDS and will likely be followed by Tyler Anderson, who has had a career season. Tony Gonsolin, who was in the conversation for MLB NL CY Young consideration before going on the IL, will likely be the fourth starter if he is healthy. If Gonsolin cannot go, then May, who is dealing with a back injury, or Andrew Heaney could get the call.
Los Angeles has recently gotten some bullpen arms back, with Brusdar Graterol, Tommy Kahnle, Yency Almonte, and David Price coming off the IL. Blake Treinen may also return, but that depends on how his shoulder responds to him recently “playing catch.” However, the Dodgers have a huge question mark at the end of games, with Craig Kimbrel losing the closing job.
2. Houston Astros
If the Dodgers own the best pitching staff in the majors, the Astros are not far behind. Justin Verlander, a viable candidate to win the AL CY Young, leads the majors in winning percentage, ERA, ERA+, and WHIP.
Valdez, who is having a career season, along with Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr., form the best front-end starters in the AL. McCullers has pitched exceptionally well since making his season debut in mid-August.
Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and Cristian Javier have all been good though Javier has pitched the best of the three all season long. However, none of the trio has fared well during the postseason recently.
Garcia and Javier should be the other two postseason starters. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘Stros go with Urquidy instead of Javier since Javier has experience pitching out of the bullpen. Houston has the best ‘pen in baseball, led by two-time all-star closer Ryan Pressly.
3. Atlanta Braves
Max Fried, a CY MLB Young candidate, is the staff’s MLB ace. He and Kyle Wright form a dominant lefty/righty duo. Wiley-veteran Charlie Morton has been slightly above average this year though he has been fantastic in the postseason throughout his career.
Rookie Spencer Strider has been fantastic since moving to the starting MLB lineup. Strider will likely be the Braves’ fourth starter though he has not been cleared to throw after being sidelined with an oblique strain.
If Strider can’t go, the last spot in the rotation will likely fall to either rookie Bryce Elder or veteran Jake Odorizzi. The Braves bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, topping the MLB league with 54 saves. Forty of those saves belong to Kenley Jensen.
4. New York Yankees
The Yankees pitching staff has struggled in the second half of the season as their ERA has ballooned to 3.69 post-all-star break. While the Yankees’ starting rotation and bullpen are among the five best in the league, they could be in trouble during the playoffs.
Gerritt Cole will likely start Game 1 of the MLB ALDS, but he has been anywhere near as dominant as he has been in the past. Really Nestor Cortes has been the Yanks’ best starter all season, and he will get the ball second for the Yanks in the MLB ALDS.
Jordan Montgomery would have given the Yankees three quality playoff starters. However, Montgomery is in St. Louis, leaving Jameson Tallion and Luis Severino as the third and fourth starters. Tallion is having one of the best campaigns of his career, and Severino has pitched decently well though he does not go long in the contests.
New York’s bullpen is kind of shaky. Aroldis Chapman has been a colossal disappointment this year and lost the closing role, while Clay Holmes has struggled in that role, particularly the past couple of months.
The Rest with projected playoff rotations in parentheses
5. New York Mets (Jacob DeGrom (DD), Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Tajuan Walker)
6. Tampa Bay Rays (Shane McClanahan, Corey Kluber, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs)
7. Seattle Mariners (Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, or Marco Gonzalez)
8. Cleveland Indians (Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, Zach Pleasac)
9. San Diego Padres (Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea, Blake Snell)
10. St. Louis Cardinals ( Jose Quintana, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery, and Miles Mikolas)
11. Toronto Blue Jays (Alex Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Ross Stripling)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (Zach Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suarez)
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