You know that baseball is really really super cool. You wouldn’t be eyeballing this bloghole if you thought otherwise. But alas, your Cincinnati Reds are not participating in this year’s postseason. They decided to give some of the not-as-cool teams a chance to have some fun. They are really nice like that.
So what is a Reds fan to do? I figured I could put together a guide for you so you can get as much fun as possible out of Redless baseball. There may not be any Reds, but it’ll still be pretty fun, I bet. If you listen to me.
National League Wild Card Game
Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
Wednesday, Oct 4 8pm EDT
The National League West was an incredible boat race this season. The Diamondbacks won 93 games but still finished 11 games behind the first-place Dodgers (we’ll talk about them in a minute). The Rockies won 87 games, just edging out the surprise Brewers for the second Wild Card spot. So tonight, the Rockies will show up in Phoenix to take on the DBacks.
You should be screamin’ for the Rockies in this one. Firstly, yer boy Wick Terrell is a Denverianite, so you know he’ll be screamin’ for them. You should be as much like him as you possibly can, because he is a #jamdude.
Also, they are a really fun team. They are pretty top-heavy in terms of talent, with two top-tier MVP candidates in 3B Nolan Arenado and CF Charlie Blackmon. Arenado is one of the best players in all of baseball, as this season will mark his third-straight showing in the top ten of MVP voting. He will also likely nab his fifth-straight Gold Glove at 3B (he has won it every year he has played). Also, he is just 26.
Blackmon is a good player at his absolute peak - he led the league this year in total bases, batting average, triples, hits, and runs. Some dingoes will disparage him for his home/road splits and argue that he is merely a product of Coors Field, but they are stupid dingoes. Of course Coors is a hitters’ park. But so are a number of different parks. It isn’t as much of an outlier as some think. Just go check out Pretender-to-the-Crown Paul Goldschmidt and his splits.
Speaking of that impostor Goldschmidt, his Diamondbacks are completely inscrutable to me. Just last season, they lost 93 games and sacked their incompetent GM as well as their manager. They were a franchise that was bleeding profusely from all the mistakes that Dave Stewart made. They gave up loads of talent for Shelby Miller, who has done nothing but pitch terribly and destroy his arm. They gave Yasmany Tomas nearly $70 mil and he has done nothing but play terrible defense and hit nothing. If the Reds had made two franchise-crippling mistakes like this, they would feel it for the next 20 years.
But the goddamn Diamondbacks somehow won 93 games this year, after losing 93 last year. They lost 93 games last year, you know. In case you didn’t catch that, they lost 93 games last year. That kind of magic turnaround is enough to make folks like me hate you forever. But of course, there’s so much more.
Paul Goldschmidt, that impostor, is an ersatz Joey Votto. People talk about Goldy all the time as the best hitter in baseball or something stupid like that. And, I mean, yeah. He’s a great hitter. He does a passable Joey Votto imitation. But why eat hamburgers when you can have a steak?
The DBacks are pretty deep behind Goldschmidt, too. They had eight different players accrue 2.9 bWAR or more this season. That is a ton of above-average baseball being played by a bunch of guys. Their real strength is their pitching. They have Zack Greinke and his $200 mil right arm as their ace, and he is as devastating as ever. But after him, they have Robbie Ray, who led the league in strikeout rate at 12.1/9, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, and Zach Godley. That’s five starters who posted better than 3 bWAR. They also have Archie Bradley in the bullpen, one of the best relievers in the game this season.
But still, the DBacks can go suck honky apples. Go Rockies.
National League Division Series
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
If there is one pervading truth about the postseason this year, it is that there is a goodly number of pure Good vs Evil match-ups. The Cubs are back at it again, winners of the Central Division, but only six games better than that surprise Brewers team (I really wish the Brewers were here). They won 11 fewer games this season than last, when they won their first World Series since before germ theory was widely accepted by the medical community.
They have pretty much the same cast of characters, too. Last year’s MVP, Kris Bryant, did it again this season. He is only 25 and he is good. They also have a bulk-rate Joey Votto in Anthony Rizzo. Willson Contreras is yet another good young Cub. He played five different positions this year for Joe Maddon, but he will most likely stick to catching duties here when the games really count.
They don’t have a deck full of aces this year like last, but they still boast a number of starters who can shut down any lineup on any given day. They haven’t determined the order of their rotation just yet, but you can look forward to Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester.
But as is always the case, the Cubs are buttitches. You wanna get up next to the Nationals in this one. They won more than 95 games for the fourth time in the last six seasons. They haven’t made it beyond the Division Series, though, so hopefully they can do that this year and vanquish the Cubs.
This Nationals team has a legendary starting rotation. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez are probably the best rotation triple-threat in years. You gotta go back to the late-aughts/early-teens Phillies and the ‘90s Braves to find this kinda firepower.
Their lineup is nearly as frightening, if you can believe that. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper are MVP candidates, plus Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy are All-Stars. Of course, anything can happen in a short series, but they can score runs and they can prevent runs. Which, that’s baseball.
The bullpen is their only weakness, which is really important in the postseason. Sean Doolittle, Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler, and Ollie Perez are all good, but none are the shutdown fireman of which every other team can boast at least one.
IRREGARDLESS, Dusty Baker led his tenth team to 90+ wins this season. He has never won a World Series, but he should be a Hall-of-Famer when he finally puts away the toothpicks. He is already a Hall-of-Fame Nice Guy.
The Cubs can go suck honky apples. Go Nats.
Rockies/Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers
There was a time not long ago that a lot of smart baseball folks thought this iteration of the Blue Boys could be the Best Team Ever. You all know what happened to that. They still ended up winning 104 games, the most in the Majors.
Their big strength is in their lineup. Justin Turner, Corey Seager, likely Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, and a resurgent Yasiel Puig are all capable of spurring big innings. 2B Logan Forsythe is probably the weakest part of their lineup, and he put up a .352 OBP. These cats can score.
Of course, they also have Best Pitcher Alive Clayton Kershaw and midseason trade acquisition Yu Darvish. Behind them are Alex Wood (2.72 ERA), Rich Hill (3.32 ERA), Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy. That is impressive depth.
The bullpen starts and ends with mythological terror animal Kenley Jansen. They have a number of decent bridge relievers to get to him, too, with the likes of former Red Tony Cingrani (TONY SPAGHETTI HOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE), Ross Stripling, and Pedro Baez.
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The Dodgers are the prohibitive favorites to emerge from the National League, which would be okay. But you should be pulling for the Nationals or the Rockies. The Cubs or Diamondbacks would make this whole thing gross.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the American League. There is some comic-book-as-hell Good vs Evil there, too.