5 MLB Stars with the Most on the Line Heading into the 2013 Postseason
It is hard to believe, but the 2013 Major League Baseball postseason is just less than a week away.
With the start of the playoffs comes an immense amount of pressure shifted onto the shoulders of each player on the participating teams.
As we all know from years past, the smallest hiccup could cost a team its season in October.
With that being said, here is a look at five players that have the most on the line as the postseason approaches.
Andrew McCutchen has been the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise since his major league debut in 2009, and now he finally has a chance to show off his talents on the national stage during the postseason.
The 11th overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft has waited for this occasion his entire career, and with it now upon him, he must perform to lead his team to the franchise's first postseason victory since 1992.
Adding to an already growing amount of pressure on the center fielder's shoulders is the fact that the Pirates will be playing in the one-game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds to decide who advances to the National League Divisional Series.
If McCutchen can play at a high level in that game, the Pirates could be able to carry that momentum deep into the postseason.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer has had an outstanding regular season, but once the calendar turns over to October, his 21-3 record will be thrown out the window.
Putting up career-high numbers in the regular season is great and all, but if Scherzer cannot perform during the Tigers' postseason run, his efforts from April to September will go to waste.
Luckily for Scherzer and most of the Detroit pitching staff, they have plenty of experience when it comes to pitching in October.
Unlike his last two ventures into the playoffs, Scherzer will have more pressure on him this year, and if he responds to it well, he could form an unbeatable starting quartet with Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez.
An out-of-the-box choice for this list is Atlanta Braves outfielder B.J. Upton, who has had an absolutely pitiful first season with the Braves. Upton has struggled to cross over the Mendoza line all season, and going into spring training, his job could potentially be on the line.
One way for Upton to quash the critics temporarily is to have a spectacular postseason campaign for the National League East champions.
The 29-year-old outfielder does have some good history in the postseason, as he starred for the Tampa Bay Rays during their 2008 run to the World Series. In the two series against Chicago and Boston, Upton had seven home runs and 15 RBI.
If the Braves get even half of that production out of him in October, most baseball fans will be in total shock based on the brutal season he has had.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig burst on to the baseball scene in June with plenty of fanfare, and he backed that up with some amazing play during his first month in the big leagues.
Since June ended, pitchers in both leagues have begun to figure out Puig, who has been one of the most polarizing characters in the game this season.
As the bright lights begin to shine on Chavez Ravine once again, Puig and the Dodgers will have a massive amount of expectations heading into October.
The good news for the 22-year-old Cuban is that he has hit six home runs and driven in 11 runs during the month of September, which has been his best month since June.
While he will most likely lose out to Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez in the NL Rookie of the Year vote, Puig still has the potential to capture a few Most Valuable Player awards if he plays like he did in June.
During the early months of the season, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz was the talk of the town and then some, as he started 9-0. After his early success, the right-handed hurler was sidelined because of an injury.
With the postseason rapidly approaching, Buchholz is back in the Red Sox rotation, and he has won two of his three September starts.
As the Red Sox look to make a push far into the postseason to erase all of the ugly demons from the last few seasons, Buchholz's performance on the mound will be crucial. It doesn't matter whether he's a starter or a potential reliever.
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