Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 MLB Postseason
We’re just a few days away from October and, with that, comes the start of the MLB’s most exciting time: the postseason. After a phenomenal season featuring the most total home runs ever in a season, stellar rookie play from hitters like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, as well as a ridiculous winning streak by the Cleveland Indians, there’s no question that October baseball is going to be a must-watch.
If you’re new to the sport or simply wait until postseason to watch, here’s a quick breakdown of everything you should expect after baseball’s regular season comes to an end.
When Does the Postseason Officially Begin?
The postseason will begin with the American League Wild Card game on Tuesday, October 3. If the AL standings stay as they are today, we should see a great matchup between the Central Division Minnesota Twins and the East Division’s New York Yankees. Both teams have had bounce-back seasons after very poor 2016 campaigns and this Wild Card game should shape up to be a tough win for either team.
On Wednesday, October 4, we’ll see the National League Wild Card game. While one team is still to be determined, the Arizona Diamondbacks have already clinched a spot after a walk-off win against Miami earlier this week. It’s safe to say there’s a lot of excitement around this unexpectedly wonderful 2017 season for Arizona, as the tickets for the WC game sold out in less than two hours. If things were to stay the same as they are at the time of this writing, the D-Backs will face off against the Colorado Rockies.
Why Only One Wild Card Game for Each?
Added for the 2012 postseason, the AL and NL Wild Card games allow for two wild-card teams from each league to have a shot at the divisional series instead one team automatically heading to that series, as was the postseason rule from 1994-2011. The winner of each Wild Card game will meet the top seed from its respective league in the divisional series.
How Long Will We Wait for the Divisional Series?
Not long at all. Both best-of-five AL Divisional Series kick off two days after the Wild Card game, on Thursday, October 5 while game one of each NLDS will follow the next night on October 6.
With a few days left in the season, the series aren’t set in stone. However, we have a pretty good idea of which teams are in and which teams are out. Let’s take a quick look.
Minnesota Twins (No. 5 seed)
New York Yankees (No. 4 seed)
Boston Red Sox (No. 3 seed)
Houston Astros (No. 2 seed)
Cleveland Indians (No. 1 seed)
Colorado Rockies (No. 5 seed)
Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 4 seed)
Chicago Cubs (No. 3 seed)
Washington Nationals (No. 2 seed)
Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 1 seed)
Postseason Difference Makers
Every postseason has its difference makers – the players who shift the entire outcome of a series. Last year, Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber was essential in the team’s run to the World Series. He pitched two shutout wins, one in the ALDS and one in the ALCS. The Cubs’ starter Jon Lester was the same for his team, propelling Chicago to the World Series thanks to stellar pitching and extremely low postseason ERA.
Let’s briefly look at a couple of guys who can be those difference makers in 2017.
Byron Buxton (Minnesota)
“Buck,” as he’s known around the Twins’ clubhouse, is a vital piece to this new-look ball club. When he’s on, he’s on, both offensively and defensively. However, he can get into slumps, often resulting in way too many strikeouts. On the year, he has 16 homers, 50 RBIs, but 114 hits. If he can get himself on base consistently, there’s a good chance for the Twins to make things happen in the postseason.
J.D. Martinez (Arizona)
No one expected Martinez to have the kind of run he’s been having since coming over from the horrendous Detroit Tigers back near the trade deadline. In 57 games with the D-Backs, Martinez has 27 homers and 58 RBIs while batting .294. He solidified his place as an Arizona hero by nabbing his first-ever walk-off hit to clinch the Wild Card spot. Martinez has been a shot of adrenaline in Arizona’s veins and, if he can continue his great stretch, this team could go far in October.
Who Will Win the World Series?
It’s a struggle to make a prediction this year, as there are multiple teams that have the rosters and consistent level of play to make a run at the title. Out of the American League, I can’t see anyone knocking off these Cleveland Indians. At 42 games over .500 and a +252-run differential, the Indians boast a deep roster and a tough-to-hit pitching staff. Out of the National League, the safe answer is to put the top-seed Dodgers into the World Series. However, Los Angeles has a penchant for losing its luster in the postseason. Clayton Kershaw is notorious for his playoff struggles and it’s going to take a lot of run support for this team to knock off the rest of the National League. I like the Washington Nationals to make it out of the NLCS and head to the World Series.
In the World Series, I believe the Cleveland Indians will take the series in six games over the Washington Nationals, clinching its first title in 69 years.
October brings Autumn breezes, brightly colored leaves, and postseason baseball. Here at SeatGeek, we hope you enjoy it all. Click here to browse all of our MLB tickets.