Each October somebody steps up and has a huge postseason and helps there team make a run deep into the playoffs. Each team has somebody they need to step up in order to make that run and hoist that coveted trophy. Here are the key players for each playoff team, if they want to make a serious run at the World Series:
Key Player: C.J. Wilson
C.J. Wilson has been solid all year, but the postseason is a whole different animal. We know the Rangers have the ace, but if Wilson can be a tremendous number two then they could make a serious run. If Wilson can go toe-to-toe with Matt Garza and continue that throughout the playoffs, the Rangers will be a tough out. With the offense Texas has, the biggest question mark is pitching. Tommy Hunter and Colby Lewis have been solid behind Lee and Wilson, but like I said the playoffs are a whole different animal.
Key Player: James Shields
Price and Garza give the Rays a solid top two. But, after those two, there are serious question marks in the Rays rotation. Shields, Wade Davis, and Jeff Niemann have all been inconsistent. Shields is the one called on to be in the rotation for the opening round. Teams cannot afford to just give away games so they have to have solid performances out of Shields.
Key Player: Jim Thome
With Justin Morneau out for the playoffs, the Twins will search for power elsewhere. Thome has the ability to provide some serious power, and if he does, the Twins offense will be able to go to another level. In the playoffs, you have to take your game to another level. Jim Thome could be the guy to pick up the power slack. In the postseason, teams need to have the ability to hit home runs and Thome could help the Twins with that.
Key Player: Andy Pettitte
This is probably the most obvious one of all the teams. The woes of Yankees starters not named C.C. Sabathia have been well documented. Andy Pettitte was good early in the season, but since returning from injury he has been inconsistent. Pettitte has been good in the postseason and he was spectacular last October. If he can provide backup to Sabathia it would really help.
Key Player: Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras
The one hole in the Phillies armor has been the bullpen. If Madson and Contreras can help bridge the gap between the dominant starters and Lidge, the Phillies will be even more dangerous. The key player could be the entire bullpen, but I chose these two. Brad Lidge has some problems of his own he needs to sure up.
Key Player: Edinson Volquez
Since returning from injury, Volquez has been inconsistent. But, at times he has been able to pitch at his pre-surgery level. That is the reason that Volquez is starting game one. If he is on, he can go toe-to-toe with Halladay. With the Reds’ offense and their bullpen, if Volquez is able to step up it will be huge.
Key Player: Pablo Sandoval
For most of last season, Sandoval was the Giants best offensive weapon. If he can hit at his highest level, it would really help that Giants offense. With that rotation, they do not have to have to many runs. But, Sandoval could be the key to getting the runs San Fran needs to make a run.
Key Player: Derrek Lee
The Braves have the rotation and they have the bullpen, but the one thing they are lacking is offense. They have the same problem as the Giants. Lee was brought over from Chicago to help provide some pop at first base. Lee has started to hit better as of late, if he continues to do so it will push the Braves offense in the right direction.
ALDS: Tampa Bay Rays over Texas Rangers in 4
ALDS: New York Yankees over Minnesota Twins in 5
NLDS: Philadelphia Phillies over Cincinnati Reds in 4
NLDS: Atlanta Braves over San Francisco Giants in 5
ALCS: New York Yankees over Tampa Bay Rays in 6
NLCS: Atlanta Braves over Philadelphia Phillies in 7
World Series: Atlanta Braves over New York Yankees in 7
I'm going to stick with my World Series pick from the beginning of the year.