Walker Buehler was trending on Twitter on Monday night. He allowed three hits and two earned runs in Game 2 of the NLDS, which Joe Kelly closed. Zack Greinke has allowed seven hits and five earned runs in 8.2 innings in his two starts, and it's hard to imagine this team will make a title push if he doesn't pitch like an ace. Anyone out there still foolish enough to bet against America’s Team?
And while there’s so many things that will go right with this team, there’s just too many spots things can go sideways – especially over a potential 12 games in 13 days. Atlanta won six of 10 against Miami and scored at least nine runs in three of those wins. A trio of trades to acquire Mark Melancon, Shane Greene and Chris Martin at the deadline last year reshaped the unit, and the offseason addition of left-hander Will Smith on a three-year, $40 million contract added another quality late-inning arm to the mix. Walker Buehler’s blister remains disconcerting. Perhaps rookie Sixto Sanchez and Sandy Alcantara’s 1-2 rotation punch can continue creating the breathing room needed for the offense to cook just enough. Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35), right fielder Mookie Betts (50) and left fielder Chris Taylor (3) celebrate at the end of Game 1 of the wild card series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
As we look ahead to another exciting week of postseason baseball, this week's Monday morning power rankings will take a deeper dive into those four teams by ranking their respective bullpens, starting pitching rotations and offenses. SportsPulse: Coming into the season, shortened or not, both the Yankees and Dodgers had 'World Series or bust' labels. It’s challenging to distill the precision and potency that make these Rays so challenging to vanquish. 3 starter? YANKEES-RAYS PREVIEW: Bad blood runs deep in this series, ASTROS-ATHLETICS PREVIEW: A showdown between rivals. The back-end starters – some combo of Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers, most likely – shouldn’t be slept on, either. The Dodgers, who haven't revealed their pitching plans beyond Game 2, really view only Buehler and Clayton Kershaw as traditional starting pitchers for the purposes of this postseason. Amid a rash of injuries and ineffectiveness, left-hander Max Fried was the only sure thing in the Atlanta rotation for a good chunk of the season until top prospect Ian Anderson joined the MLB roster. They might still deploy an opener like, say, Brusdar Graterol, especially given how good the top third of the Braves' batting order has been this season. Here's how they rank, each team's strengths and weaknesses, and what they need to do to win it all. There is no question the Dodgers have excellent starting pitching options, but the uncertainty surrounding Buehler's ability to pitch deep into games was enough to keep them out of the top spot. All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and MLB.com unless otherwise noted. They can afford to push the $200 million guy back a bit. It’s true: There’s nothing the Marlins can’t overcome, be it the first and worst COVID-19 outbreak in baseball history or an offense that ranked in the lower third of baseball in OPS, home runs and weighted on-base average. Position Players: C Travis d'Arnaud, C Tyler Flowers, 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Ozzie Albies, SS Dansby Swanson, 3B Austin Riley, IF Pablo Sandoval, IF/OF Charlie Culberson, LF Adam Duvall, CF Ronald Acuna Jr., RF Nick Markakis, OF Cristian Pache, DH Marcell Ozuna. Playoff bracket, schedule and more ». Walker Buehler will get the Game 1 start once again in the NLCS, but questions remain about his ability to pitch deep into games after he dealt with blister problems in September.
But he has yet to complete six innings during that stretch. The Astros did not have the same high-powered offense in 2020 that they've had during their recent run of success: Aside from George Springer, Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker, most of the lineup produced below expectations during the regular season. It also puts more pressure on Buehler and Kershaw to pitch deep into games on the days they take their turn. The fast-moving 2020 MLB postseason train has arrived at its penultimate stop, with the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series unfolding this week. Rotation: LHP Framber Valdez, RHP Lance McCullers Jr., RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Jose Urquidy. Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow are all capable of ace-level production when things are clicking, and they have thrown the ball well this postseason. San Diego went 4-6 against its northern nemesis this year, with Lamet striking out 11 in one of those wins. But he surrendered back-to-back singles that paved the way for Graterol, who picked up three consecutive outs to preserve what was still a 1-1 tie. Meanwhile, while Game 1 ALDS starter Chris Bassitt and the bullpen are outstanding, there are far too many questions surrounding the Nos. But if his blister -- he has been dealing with two blisters, which "take turns" affecting him, Roberts revealed after Game 1 -- warrants another short outing, the Dodgers probably wouldn't be able to use May in that piggyback scenario once again. The Astros have gotten just enough from their starting pitchers to reach this round, but the group will need to be better if their playoff run is to continue. • Why Braves are big threat to Dodgers » It's a forward-thinking strategy that could prove to be revolutionary, but it's a massive challenge both because of the way this year's NLCS is structured and the formidability of the Dodgers' latest opponent. Their usage this week is anybody's guess. The Dodgers, who possess far more starting-pitching depth than a Braves team that really trusts only three starters, want to maximize the number of games May impacts. Minter, RHP Darren O'Day, LHP Will Smith, RHP Josh Tomlin, RHP Jacob Webb, RHP Huascar Ynoa. Position Players: C Mike Zunino, C Michael Perez, 1B Ji-Man Choi, 2B Brandon Lowe, SS Willy Adames, 3B Joey Wendle, 1B/3B Yandy Diaz, IF Mike Brosseau, LF Randy Arozarena, CF Kevin Kiermaier, RF Manuel Margot, OF Austin Meadows, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Yoshi Tsutsugo. Kershaw returned to Cy Young Award-caliber form with a 2.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 10 starts during the regular season, and he's allowed three earned runs in 14 innings while striking out 19 in two postseason starts. Behind that duo, May started Game 3 of the NLDS in an opener role, pitching just one inning before Urias later filled a bulk role with five innings of one-hit ball. 3 spot. Then, with trust in Kenley Jansen continually waning, Blake Treinen took the ball for the top of the ninth. Running this gauntlet should put to rest any notions of an asterisk for the team left standing. Still, the question remained whether the Braves could make a postseason run with a young, unproven No. Because Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez and Jose Urquidy combined to allow one earned run over 12 1/3 innings (0.73 ERA) in the wild-card series, and Lance McCullers Jr. is frothing to take the ball.
Will anyone among Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May seize a role as a No. Bullpen: LHP Jose Alvarado, RHP Nick Anderson, RHP Diego Castillo, RHP John Curtiss, RHP Pete Fairbanks, LHP Josh Fleming, LHP Aaron Loup, LHP Shane McClanahan, RHP Aaron Slegers, RHP Ryan Thompson. Anderson, 22, has pitched like a seasoned veteran with 11.2 scoreless innings in his two October starts, allowing just five hits and three walks while racking up 17 strikeouts. Two innings later, with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Roberts replaced May with Victor Gonzalez, who struck out Charlie Culberson to end the inning. However, L.A. converted just 15 of 25 save chances, and Jansen is no longer the untouchable force he was a few years ago. A link has been sent to your friend's email address. Yet it will always come down to a starter such as J.A. Manager Dave Roberts has not platooned quite as aggressively this season as he has in years past, but the versatility Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor provide still give him plenty of options when it comes to filling out his lineup card.
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