Bowden: 13 MLB gamers who have to step up because the postseason heats up

With solely three extra weeks left within the MLB common season, the postseason races are heating up. The Braves path the Mets by only a half recreation within the Nationwide League East, whereas the White Sox path the Guardians within the American League Central by three. The AL wild-card groups are separated from the pack, with the Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners advancing to the playoffs, however first place — and first-round house subject benefit — are up for grabs because the three groups entered. Wednesday is tied within the loss column. Within the NL wild-card race, the Brewers have received 5 of their final six and path the Padres by two video games. The Phillies are up 3 1/2 video games on Milwaukee (and personal the tiebreaker), however they nonetheless must face the Braves seven occasions, the Blue Jays twice and the Astros thrice, so their schedule is not simple.

Playoff spots, home-field benefit and first-round byes are at stake. Listed below are among the key gamers who have to step up in these tight races to assist their groups over the subsequent 21 days.

Statistics are up to date by Tuesday’s video games.

NL East Race

Mets — 1B Pete Alonso

Alonso was the Mets’ MVP all season, slashing .268/.344/.505 with 24 doubles, 34 house runs and an NL-leading 110 RBI. Nevertheless, he has been comparatively quiet during the last 30 days, hitting .226 with 7 extra-base hits and 106 at-bats in 27 video games. In an effort to win the NL East and safe a useful first-round bye, the Mets want Alonso to play like the facility participant he has been during the last three weeks. The excellent news for New York: In his final seven video games, Alonso has it, batting .345/.387/.586.

Braves – RF Ronald Coin Jr.

Acuña has been disappointing this season in his return from ACL surgical procedure a 12 months in the past, however due to the manufacturing of rookies Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom, the stress on Acuña to carry out has eased. However because the Braves attempt to edge the Mets for the division crown, they’re going to want extra from their super-talented right-hander. Over the past 15 video games, Acuña is batting .258 with a .310 on-base proportion and only one house run. Nevertheless, he has stolen three bases in as many makes an attempt throughout that point. Acuña’s base-stealing skill shall be key in serving to Braves batters get extra fastballs to hit after him.

AL Central matchup

Rookie Oscar Gonzalez is batting .319/.396/.596 this month, however the Guardians want extra offense. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA In the present day)

Trustees – their lineup, prime to backside

The Guardians’ pitching workers is doing the whole lot they’ll to make them a shocking AL Central title. Over the past 30 days, their workforce ERA is 2.65, third finest in baseball. Nevertheless, their offense has struggled over that span, rating twenty ninth within the majors with simply 3.25 factors per recreation. To cease the White Sox, the Guardians want their lineup to begin producing. Solely Oscar Gonzalez (5 house runs) and Jose Ramirez (4) have hit greater than two lengthy balls within the final 30 days. Cleveland hitters are working within the rely and getting on base, however they have not been in a position to string collectively hits, which has turn into a late-season drawback, particularly once they’re not hitting for energy. (The Guardians are final in MLB with 16 homers within the final 30 days.) The Guardians want their two place gamers, Ramírez and Andrés Giménez, however additionally they want manufacturing. All around the lineup, with their elite pitching and protection, to stave off the White Sox, who they’re going to face 4 extra occasions.

White Sox – RHP Lucas Giolito

The White Sox are coming off robust offensively, due to pitchers Eloy Jiménez and Elvis Andrus, who’ve mixed for 11 house runs and 33 RBIs of their final 15 video games. 4 of their hitters — Jiménez, Andrus, José Abreu and AJ Pollock — have batted over .340 and posted an OBP of .390 or larger during the last 15 days. Nevertheless, the important thing for the White Sox in the long term might be Giolito, who has struggled to match as much as his rotation mates this 12 months. Giolito’s numbers have taken a flip for the more severe since final season, particularly after the All-Star break, when he posted a 6.04 ERA and 1.638 WHIP within the second half. He wants to show issues round in his closing begin of the common season.

All Wild Card Races

Wander Franco was in IL from July tenth to September ninth. (Nick Turchiaro/USA In the present day)

Mariners – Mitch Haniger and Jesse Winker

The Mariners lead the majors with a 2.42 workforce ERA over the previous 30 days and are in place to safe the highest AL wild card spot and finish their 20-season playoff drought if their lineup can soar. Their wild-card competitors, the Rays and Blue Jays, have outscored them over the previous month, however the Mariners have come by their final 12 video games and outscored each AL workforce in that span. Julio Rodríguez and Eugenio Suárez have carried them, combining for 10 house runs and 15 RBIs to hit at 45 and 36 p.c clips, respectively. Nevertheless, if the Mariners are to lock down home-field benefit for the primary spherical, the duo will want the assistance of Haniger and Winker. Haniger is batting .143 during the last 15 days, whereas Winker is hitting .074 with one extra-base hit in 27 at-bats.

Rays – INF Isaac Paredes and SS Wander Franco

The Rays completed thirtieth within the majors during the last 15 days with six house runs and whereas they’ve the pitching and protection to complete atop the wild card seeding, they’re going to want some lengthy balls to do it. With 18 homers, Paredes is second on the workforce behind Randy Arrozarina, however he hasn’t hit one in September. The Rays want him to go yard a number of occasions throughout lengthy drives. In the meantime, Franco has lastly returned from the injured record and is off to an excellent begin, going 6-20 with three RBIs in his first six video games, however the Rays will want his 21-year-old sensation. The Mariners and Blue Jays bested an 11-year, $182 million contract within the closing weeks for home-field benefit within the wild-card spherical.

Blue Jays — RHP Jose Berrios

Berrios has been a giant disappointment this season after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension final November, posting a 5.07 ERA, 4.68 FIP and 1.376 WHIP — the worst marks of his profession since his 2016 rookie 12 months. Nevertheless, he has pitched higher in his final 5 begins, permitting two earned runs or fewer in all however one in all them. The Blue Jays want him to pitch like that to complete with the most effective document amongst AL wild-card groups and turn into a postseason risk. If the highest of their rotation — Alec Mano, Kevin Gausman, Ross Stripling and Berrios — pitches to its potential, the Blue Jays can do some actual injury within the playoffs. Berrios is the important thing, and whereas he appears to be on monitor, the Blue Jays will want him to be persistently good the remainder of the way in which.

NL Wild Card Race

The acquisition of Josh Bell has but to repay for the Padres. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA In the present day)

Phillies — RHP Serantony Dominguez

The Phillies are relieved to have their most important reliever again from IL as they blew 5 saves and the bullpen has struggled in his absence. They shut down Domínguez (proper triceps tendinitis) after an outing on August 17, however activated him on Sunday and he has been scoreless since. From June 17 to August 17, Domínguez was dominant: 18 of his 21 aid appearances have been scoreless and he transformed 9 of his 9 save alternatives. On the season, Domínguez has logged a 1.57 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. To maintain their wild-card spot and finish their postseason drought, the Phillies want Dominguez to be at his finest within the closing innings.

Padres — 1B Josh Bell

The Padres have to get their bats going. They’re twelfth within the NL in runs scored during the last 30 days with 98 runs and twelfth in runs scored during the last 15 days with 42 runs scored. Manny Machado led all offensive classes, together with hits, extra-base hits, for greater than a month. house runs, RBIs and OPS. Nevertheless, opposing groups will seemingly pile round Machado or stroll him the remainder of the week if he would not get any assist. Enter Josh Bell. When the Padres acquired Bell, he was slashing .301/.384/.493 with 24 doubles, three triples, 14 house runs and 57 RBIs in 103 video games for the Nationals. However for the reason that blockbuster Juan Soto commerce, Bell is batting .206/.320/.313 with 5 doubles and three house runs in 131 at-bats. It was his time to shine for San Diego. Oh, they usually want his hitting — .120/.313/.180 — in his final 15 video games to proceed, too.

Brewers – Christian Yelich, SS Willie Adams and DH Andrew McCann

The Brewers want their veterans — particularly, Yelich, Adams and McCutchen — to hold them. Over their final 15 video games, Yelich is batting .298, Adames .246 and McCutchen .236. And so they will not get a lot assist from Rowdy Tellez (.204 in his final 15 video games) and Caseton Huerra (.208). Nevertheless, Yelich, Adames and McCutchen have completed it earlier than and should execute now to elevate Milwaukee over the Padres or Phillies. The Brewers have the pitching and protection to make the playoffs if this veteran trio offers run help.

(Prime photograph of Ronald Acuña Jr.: Brett Davis / USA In the present day)

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