MLB, New York Mets

The Moonshot: Scariest pitching rotations for the MLB postseason

Well, we believe in exit velocity, bat flips, launch angles, stealing home, the hanging curveball, Big League Chew, sausage races, and that unwritten rules of any kind are self-indulgent, overrated crap. We believe Greg Maddux was an actual wizard. We believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment protecting minor league baseball and that pitch framing is both an art and a science. We believe in the sweet spot, making WARP not war, letting your closer chase a two-inning save, and we believe love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

Welcome to The Moonshot.

Who has the scariest pitching rotation for the MLB postseason?

I was tempted to pick the Atlanta Braves, but Spencer Strider’s oblique injury has me going in a different direction.

Give me the New York Mets.

The playoffs are exactly why Mets general manager Billy Eppler and team president Sandy Alderson constructed this rotation. The unit is headlined by superstar right-handers Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom — both are finally healthy — and their No. 3 starter, Chris Bassitt, has a 3.27 ERA in 179 innings.

It’s as dominant as any rotation in baseball and their recipe for dethroning the Braves and beating the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League. That’s not factoring in Taijuan Walker, who has a 3.53 ERA, and Carlos Carrasco, who has a 3.79 ERA. Of course, the Mets are 9-8 in Scherzer/deGrom starts since deGrom came off the Injured List in August, but their rotation talent and depth are a major reason why they are 40 games above .500.

It’s also what makes them a postseason nightmare. Just think of the possibilities that the Mets have.

For example: in a potential Game 7, the Mets can start deGrom for five innings. They can hand the ball to Scherzer and have him finish the game or they can have Scherzer pitch until the eighth and have star closer Edwin Diaz, who has a 1.40 ERA in 58 innings, close out the game.

That’s just one of many scenarios that manager Buck Showalter has at his disposal. And to that, I say, good luck, other National League playoff teams.

— Robert Murray

The MLB streaming revolution will not be televised

Baseball fans, we heard you loud and clear this past weekend. As history approached in the Bronx and at Dodger Stadium, you were disheartened to learn that both games were streaming on AppleTV+. What did that mean? How do you log into it? And would your local announcers be a part of the action?

Happy to answer those questions! “Not sure,” “You can’t — well, people can, but you personally can’t,” and, “Absolutely not!”

As MLB enters the streaming game, it’s our goal to make this as seamless as possible — which, again, is still not that seamless. That’s why we’re streaming our Complete Guide to Streaming on Amazon Prime, beginning this week. Accessible between the hours of 1 and 4 AM/PM, the Complete Guide to Streaming will answer all questions you may have — except the question, “What is my password?” which is a personal question.

But that’s not all. Whether you’ve accessed it or not, streaming has been a massively successful part of this season’s experience, per the internal memos featuring fudged-up numbers we’ve been circulating nonstop since early April. Next year, all local broadcasts on Thursdays, in every market, will be streaming exclusively on MLB+, our brand-new service launching by Opening Day. Unfortunately, the local announcers will not follow the streams; local broadcasts will be streaming separately and concurrently on the local subdivisions of the MLBDigital feed, a subsidiary of ConAgra. Instead of the announcers you’ve fallen in love with, the MLBDigital feeds will feature four old college roommates reuniting after 20 years, just sort of … sitting there.

In order to access your local announcers, simply download one of 32 different feeds (one for each MLB team, two for forthcoming expansion teams in Las Vegas and Charlotte, where you’ll find People Milling About), enter your zip code and unique nine-digit PIN, as well as your initial AppleTV+ password. If you’ve forgotten that password, no worries! Changed passwords will not be accepted, and you will not gain access. But you shouldn’t worry about it, it just is what it is.

Once inside, you’ll be able to watch your beloved local broadcasts, just as you always have — but only on Thursdays. Mondays and Saturdays, the games will be on cable. Tuesdays, they go direct to DVD. Wednesdays, games are only accessible on airport televisions. And Fridays? Baseball on Fridays is canceled; please stream any one of Netflix’s bone-chilling original True Crime documentaries.

Thanks for your patience, as we take your favorite MLB action into the future! PS: We found your password, and it is extremely offensive.

— Adam Weinrib

The latest episode of The Baseball Insiders

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7HCQdD6r4s

The St. Louis Cardinals are a serious World Series contender

You can thank the new MLB playoff format for this “take” … but as fans continue to talk about teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Braves, Astros and even Blue Jays, the St. Louis Cardinals, by default, have become a bit of an afterthought in the World Series discussion, thus making them a prime dark horse candidate.

The Cards are likely going to win their division, but will get stuck playing in the Wild Card round since they’ll finish behind the Dodgers and Mets. Most sportsbooks have St. Louis well behind those aforementioned teams in World Series odds pecking order, but it might do them well. There’s nothing better than a team not having to worry about an elevated spotlight once the postseason begins.

Led by two of the best players in the entire league, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, both of whom rank third and fourth in WAR this year, the Cardinals have a star-studded foundation to work with. Factor in the narratives of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, who are playing in their final MLB seasons, as well as the uncertainty surrounding Adam Wainwright, and there’s an edge and a will that St. Louis may possess over other teams looking to stand atop the baseball world.

They’re not without their problems, though. Tyler O’Neill, on top of having a bad season, is injured at the moment. Promising rookie Nolan Gorman was optioned to Triple-A not too long ago amid his struggles. Dylan Carlson has been terribly underwhelming and Paul DeJong has been downright bad. But then there are others like Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman, Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan picking up the slack. This is a top-five offense and the best defensive team in the league (.989 fielding percentage. How quiet has that seemed? What wins playoff games? Contact hitting (Cardinals are ninth in batting average) and stout defense.

They have a top-10 pitching staff, too (3.77 ERA). The rotation doesn’t exactly boast aces, but it’s solid top to bottom and a majority of their arms limit hard contact. This is one of the best bullpens they’ve had in recent memory, too, with Ryan Helsley as the hardest-thrower in the league and Giovanny Gallegos right behind him — two guys with the ability to close. Their 24-16 record in one-run games embodies just about everything we’ve discussed so far.

The only problem? The Cards haven’t been impressive against teams with a winning record. They’ve only managed to get the best of the Yankees, Padres and (for now) Brewers in that department. It’s a legitimate concern, but the playoffs are all about matchups. At the very least, to kick off the postseason they’ll get either the Phillies or Brewers, which favors them big time. Then they’d get the Mets should they win that.

The NL is a gauntlet, but if the Cardinals play their brand of baseball, the unfavorable matchups don’t seem like they’d tip the scales too much. St. Louis has a postseason history and a brand of magic that most other teams don’t. Their NLCS win over the Mets in 2006 (which will no doubt hang over New York’s head if they match up). Their World Series win in 2011 against the Texas Rangers. Yadi, Albert and Wainwright are all back together. That trio was part of those milestone accomplishments 11 and 16 years ago.

Who says it can’t happen again?

— Thomas Carannante

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