Talking playoffs as we head into the final two weeks of
New playoff teams in National League: Pittsburgh and
***Last year was one bad break after another for the
Pirates, who had reached the playoffs in each of the previous three seasons. Injuries took a heavy toll, but more than anything they missed the
middle-of-the-lineup production of Andrew McCutcheon, whose home run total (24)
remained steady but droppped in every other offensive category. Plus,
McCutcheon's defense in center slipped so much that the Bucs will be moving him
to right field this time around. Gerrit Cole, who was among the many injured
Pirates last season, will lead a starting staff that should be above average.
FanGraphs has pegged Pittsburgh's O/U win total at 82.5 with a 27.5 percent
chance of winning a wild card spot in a Central Division that looks like will
be the property of the Cubs for at least the next half-decade.
***The Rockies face long odds (40/1) to win the World
Series, but a spot in the playoffs is not out of the question - assuming that
new closer Greg Holland bounces back from elbow surgery well enough to anchor
the bullpen. There is no doubt that Colorado can score. The Rockies can also play
defense and they have a lot of strong young arms to build the pitching staff
around. After a 75-87 season in 2016, Colorado would have to find a way to tack
on another 15 victories to be a viable playoff contender, but that appears
doable. FanGraphs pegs their playoff chances at only 10.5 percent, so betting
on the purple could pay big dividends.
New playoff team in the American League: Seattle
***The Mariners were forced to use 13 starting pitchers last
season as injuries took a toll, but the M's still managed to make a half-decent
run at a wild-card spot after a gut-punch 2-11 stretch in late August took them
just about out of it. Felix Hernandez again leads the starting rotation, which
should thrive. If you believe the glass is half full, you have to also like an
improved bullpen and the stabilizing influence of new shortstop Jean Segura.
FanGraphs gives Seattle a 27.5 chance at making the playoffs, but the M's look
a notch better than that at this point.
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