The night belonged to ace CC Sabathia, who shut down the heavy hitting Blue Jays bats. Some are tagging the Yankees doomed in the playoffs, as the rotation is having some issues. Still, there are many positives in pinstripes too that tend to get overlooked.
One fact remains true in MLB: No team gets into the postseason via luck. Each team that plays in October deserves it; this is not the NFL and the Yankees are not the 2009 New York Jets. The season is long and 162 games doesn’t allow for it.
With the 2010 playoff spots almost filled, let’s find at the flaws of each team that has clinched so far.
The Texas Rangers owned the AL West pretty much all season, but the competition was a joke. MVP candidate Josh Hamilton is the bread and butter of the Rangers lineup and the team needs him being at 100 percent healthy. Hamilton has cracked ribs and has admitted he is injured. The Rangers are praying that Hamilton’s two weeks off will get him swinging for October, because if not...adios amigos.
Don’t forget that historically, the Rangers can’t usually hang with the AL East boys (Rays and Yankees) so perfection is needed deep in the heart of Texas.
The Minnesota Twins have been without All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau since July 18. No doubt having Morneau in the playoffs would be ideal, considering his other half Joe Mauer has been flirting with injuries all season. The latest is Mauer will be back behind the plate this Friday, after suffering a jammed knee on September 18. Morneau is practicing with the team but the concussion he suffered will not be resolved this season.
The Tampa Bay Rays' best player is third baseman Evan Longoria, who has been resting since the moment the Rays clinched. Skipper Joe Madden is no dummy and knows the Rays need Longoria in October. Also, other than David Price the rest of the Rays starters have been struggling. One other feature that makes the Rays so lethal is stealing bases, which has slowed down quite a bit.
It is tough to find many flaws when talking about the Philadelphia Phillies. All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been on the DL for the majority of the season, so keep an eye on Rollins. Also, first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley both spent significant time on the DL too. The Phillies have starting pitcher Cole Hamels and closer Brad Lidge, who have gotten into major funks, AJ Burnett style. Though both seem to be back in form, you never know with players that both perform that badly for such long stretches of time.
The Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central over the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals. It was a complete team effort, as the bench players came up big when injuries happened, but can this team hold up against teams like the Phillies, Rays, and Yankees. It will be tough for the Reds, as it will take the whole team to win. The NL Central was the Cardinals to lose, not the Reds to win. Also, the Reds were 2-5 against an injured Phillies during the regular season, so a healthy Phillies would be tough for the Reds to defeat.