Welcome to our playoff edition of the MLB Power Rankings where we look at why each team could win the World Series and what could hold them back.1. Atlanta BravesWhy they could win it all: Any team with baseball's most potent offense should be feared in October. The ability to hit home runs in a variety of different situations is an extremely important asset to have in the postseason. The Braves had one of the most prolific power seasons by a team in MLB history in 2023. With the likes of Ronald Acu a Jr., Matt Olson, and Ozzie Albies leading the way, opposing pitchers will have to be at their absolute best.Biggest weakness: Question marks in the rotation. Both Max Fried and Charlie Morton are dealing with finger injuries, with Morton already ruled out for the NLDS. Fried is expected to return for the division series, but there is certainly some reason to be concerned about how effective he can be. Spencer Strider will need to be in top form in order for the Braves to be at their best. The right-hander showcased his trademark dominance for large stretches of the regular season but also struggled at times, leading to a surprisingly inflated ERA.2. Baltimore OriolesWhy they could win it all: They've surprised all year. After finishing with just 83 wins in 2022, the Orioles, who were projected to win 74 games before the season by Baseball Prospectus, did better than anyone thought they would. With young stars Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson leading the charge, the Orioles impressed en route to their first AL East title since 2014. Beyond Rutschman and Henderson, manager Brandon Hyde should feel secure about talented bats like Anthony Santander and Austin Hays, among others, to be up to the challenge of postseason baseball.Biggest weakness: Pitching. The loss of All-Star closer F lix Bautista is a huge blow. Without Bautista, the bullpen doesn't look nearly as formidable, as other relievers will be thrust into higher-pressure situations. In the starting rotation, Hyde will likely line up Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez for the first two games of the ALDS. Bradish put together a career season in 2023, while Rodriguez lived up to his potential in the second half after being sent down in May. It wouldn't be shocking if Baltimore's pitchers continue to get the job done, but it could be an obstacle to a deep run in October. Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport / Getty3. Los Angeles DodgersWhy they could win it all: Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. The dynamic duo atop the lineup has helped carry the Dodgers despite some offseason departures and a number of key injuries to the pitching staff. Freeman and Betts are good enough to swing a short series on their own. Veteran slugger J.D. Martinez could also emerge as a difference-maker. Martinez owns a .987 OPS with nine home runs and 30 RBIs across 109 career postseason at-bats. The 36-year-old hit more than 30 homers for the first time since 2019 and hit .344 in his last playoff run as a member of the Red Sox in 2021.Biggest weakness: Inexperience in the starting rotation. The Dodgers have turned to a number of rookie pitchers with key injuries to Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Walker Buehler, as well as the placement of Julio Ur as on administrative leave. Bobby Miller is expected to start one of the first two games of the NLDS. Beyond Miller and Clayton Kershaw, Dave Roberts will have to dig deep to squeeze enough out of the rotation to allow the lineup and bullpen a chance to win games.4. Tampa Bay RaysWhy they could win it all: A versatile pitching staff from top to bottom. Even with injuries to ace Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen, the Rays still ranked highly in a number of pitching categories. Manager Kevin Cash will likely line up his pitching staff to have Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin start the first two games of the wild-card series. After an uncharacteristically uneven first few months, the Rays' bullpen found its form down the stretch. Expect Cash to be aggressive as always in using his bullpen and trying to win the matchup game against the opposition.Biggest weakness: Inexperienced lineup. Outside of Yandy D az and Randy Arozarena, the Rays' lineup isn't overflowing with proven playoff performers. Tampa received strong contributions from the likes of Josh Lowe, Isaac Paredes, and Harold Ram rez during the regular season and will need more of the same to win a first postseason series since 2020.5. Philadelphia PhilliesWhy they could win it all: Winning DNA. The Phillies are one of the most dangerous teams in the postseason. After last year's stirring run to Game 6 of the World Series from the final wild-card spot, it would be foolish to doubt Philadelphia. Even without one of last October's heroes in Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies are still loaded with offensive dynamos. They are also set up nicely atop the rotation with the dependable duo of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.Biggest weakness: Bullpen depth. The Phillies are in good shape at the end of games with Jos Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel coming off strong regular-season performances. Beyond that, there are question marks for manager Rob Thomson. Gregory Soto's first season in Philadelphia has been bumpy, to say the least, as the left-hander posted a 4.62 ERA. The Phillies will need him, Seranthony Dom nguez, and others to step up under the bright lights to provide support and a bridge to Alvarado and Kimbrel. Tim Heitman / Major League Baseball / Getty6. Houston AstrosWhy they could win it all: An extended track record of rising to the occasion in October. Yes, the Astros had a disjointed and underwhelming regular season. Based on that, it would be reasonable to doubt Houston's chances of making another run to a staggering seventh straight ALCS. However, betting against the likes of Altuve, lvarez, and Bregman seems like a bad idea. Until someone rises up and knocks the defending World Series champions off their perch, they deserve the benefit of the doubt in the postseason.Biggest weakness: Question marks in the rotation. Manager Dusty Baker has had to navigate injuries to major 2022 contributors in Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. The Astros can still lean on veterans Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, but there are concerns surrounding Valdez, who posted a 4.55 ERA in his final 15 regular-season starts. Beyond the two veterans, the Astros will need strong contributions from rookie J.P. France and right-hander Jos Urquidy.7. Milwaukee BrewersWhy they could win it all: Arguably the postseason's best trio of starting pitchers. Brewers manager Craig Counsell is in an envious position with the ability to count on former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, with home-field advantage, in the wild-card series. All three hurlers are capable of shutting down some of baseball's best lineups and will give the team every opportunity to stay in games.Biggest weakness: Can they score enough? The Brewers had a below-average offense in terms of hitting home runs, scoring runs, and wRC+. There are plenty of talented players in Counsell's lineup, but the regular-season track record speaks for itself. The Brewers will need to find a way to do more damage in the batter's box or their run in the postseason could be a short one.8. Texas RangersWhy they could win it all: A potent offense. They struggled through bouts of inconsistency in the second half of the season, but the Rangers are still well-equipped to put up crooked numbers in October. Texas finished the regular season third in runs, OPS, and home runs. Meanwhile, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Adolis Garc a combined for 101 homers and 303 RBIs.Biggest weakness: The bullpen. The Rangers' second-half swoon can largely be traced to the struggles of their relievers. Even after acquiring veteran closer Aroldis Chapman, manager Bruce Bochy still had trouble turning to any relievers with the confidence that they could get the job done consistently. The Rangers converted just 30 of 63 save opportunities on the season and were 26th in bullpen ERA (5.10) in the second half. It could be a bumpy ride in late and close situations. Mark Blinch / Getty Images Sport / Getty9. Toronto Blue JaysWhy they could win it all: Pitching and defense. Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins prioritized run prevention in the offseason, and it paid dividends in 2023. The Blue Jays were among the league leaders in ERA and also ranked very highly in defensive runs saved with offseason additions like Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho leading the way. The old adage says pitching and defense wins championships, and the Blue Jays are certainly well-equipped in both areas.Biggest weakness: Offensive inconsistency. After ranking among the league leaders in a number of major offensive categories over the past two seasons, the Blue Jays slipped in 2023. Toronto struggled to hit home runs and ran into issues hitting with runners in scoring position for long stretches during the regular season. Home runs are always the great equalizer, especially when runs are at a premium in October. The Blue Jays will need to find more power if they hope to win a playoff series for the first time since 2016.10. Minnesota TwinsWhy they could win it all: A suddenly impossible bullpen. Many times, postseason success boils down to hitting enough home runs and having a reliable bullpen to hold down leads late in games. The Twins are looking pretty strong in the latter. Closer Jhoan Duran is one of baseball's most electric hurlers. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli also has a slew of quality arms, with Louie Varland, Caleb Thielbar, Griffin Jax, Brock Stewart, and Emilio P gan all emerging at times during the regular season. One potential X-factor to keep an eye on is Chris Paddack. The right-hander returned at the end of the regular season in a bullpen role after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Paddack is throwing harder than he ever has and can still count on his strong changeup.Biggest weakness: Injuries to key contributors. Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Royce Lewis missed extended periods of time at the end of the regular season. Even if some or all of them are in the lineup for Game 1, it's fair to wonder how close to 100% they will be and how that might impact Minnesota's quest to win its first postseason series since the 2002 ALDS. Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport / Getty11. Arizona DiamondbacksWhy they could win it all: The three-headed monster. Opposing pitchers will need to find a way to slow down Arizona's dynamic offensive trio of NL Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll, second baseman Ketel Marte, and first baseman Christian Walker. Those three are the engine of Arizona's offense and are capable of pushing the D-Backs deep into October if they can get hot.Biggest weakness: Starting pitching depth. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo can feel secure with the top of the rotation in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Beyond that, however, there are major question marks. Rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt lines up to start behind Gallen and Kelly, but aside from that, there aren't many obvious candidates.12. Miami MarlinsWhy they could win it all: A surprisingly deep offense. NL batting champion Luis Arraez leads the charge, and Marlins manager Skip Schumaker should feel good about the likes of Jorge Soler, Josh Bell, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Jake Burger hitting behind Arraez in the order. The Marlins had a great finish to the regular season to qualify for the postseason and could ride that momentum to a surprise run in October.Biggest weakness: A lack of impactful starting pitching. Injuries to reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara and electric rookie Eury P rez have left the Marlins in a precarious position entering the postseason. Talented left-hander Jes s Luzardo will likely draw the Game 1 assignment, but Schumaker and the Marlins will be hoping one or more of Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, and Johnny Cueto emerge as postseason heroes.Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
The Miami Marlins are furious with the New York Mets after a game between the two teams was postponed on Tuesday and rescheduled as a doubleheader on Wednesday.The game at Citi Field was called off due to unplayable conditions after the stadium's grounds crew did not cover the field on Saturday ahead of heavy rainfall caused by Tropical Storm Ophelia, reports The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.The grounds crew eventually put the tarp down, but the infield took so much water from Saturday to Monday that there wasn't enough of a dry period to get it in good enough shape to play."We want to play today," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said on Tuesday, according to MLB.com's Christina De Nicola. "That's definitely the case. But if it's a doubleheader, it's a doubleheader. It's just part of it. It's part of the season that we have to play. We have six games left. There's no more off-days in between, and I think, no matter what we put in front of them, they've always been good with it. It can piss you off for a minute or so, but I think they get over it and you play baseball at the end of the day. If it's today or tomorrow, we'll figure that out."The Marlins, who are battling with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs for the bottom two National League wild-card spots, are upset because the postponement affects their pitching strategy in the season's final games. Braxton Garrett, who had his Tuesday start bumped to the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader, will no longer be available to pitch Sunday's season finale unless he performs on short rest. This leaves Miami, without the injured Sandy Alcantara and Eury P rez, in a bind.The Marlins are one of baseball's biggest surprises this season, entering Wednesday one half-game back of the Cubs for the final wild-card spot despite having one of the league's worst offenses.Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
The 2023 MLB season is nearing the finish line, and there are a number of intriguing items yet to be resolved.Here's what you need to keep an eye on over the final week.Playoff odds courtesy of FanGraphs.AL East Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty Team Record PCT GB E# Orioles 97-59 .622 -- -- Rays 95-62 .605 2.5 3 Orioles hold tiebreaker over Rays (8-5)The Orioles are looking to win their first division title since 2014 and second since 1997. There are still some question marks about the rotation and lack of postseason experience, but Baltimore has proved doubters wrong all year. It wouldn't be surprising to see them do the same in the playoffs.AL West Team Record PCT GB Remaining Odds to win AL West Rangers 87-68 .561 -- @LAA (3) @SEA (4) 82.2% Astros 85-71 .545 2.5 @SEA (3) @ARI (3) 11.3% Mariners 84-71 .542 3 HOU (3) TEX (4) 6.4% Mariners hold tiebreaker over Astros (8-2) Astros hold tiebreaker over Rangers (9-4) Rangers hold tiebreaker over Mariners (8-1) At times, it feels like none of the AL West contenders actually want to win the division. The Astros, Rangers, and Mariners have each endured multiple rough patches of late. Houston could rue series losses to the lowly Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals if it ends up costing the club a sixth division crown in seven seasons or even the postseason altogether.Texas' weekend sweep of the Mariners could end up being the big momentum swing that ultimately propels the team to its first AL West title since 2016. The two clubs will close out the regular season at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.AL wild card Team Record PCT GB Remaining Playoff odds Rays 95-62 .605 +9.5 @BOS (2) @TB (3) Clinched Blue Jays 87-69 .558 +2 NYY (3) TB (3) 97.5% Astros 85-71 .545 -- @SEA (3) @ARI (3) 60.4% Mariners 84-71 .542 0.5 HOU (3) TEX (4) 45.1% Mariners hold tiebreaker over Blue Jays (divisional record) Blue Jays hold tiebreaker over Astros (4-3) Mariners hold tiebreaker over Astros (8-2) The race for the final two AL wild-card spots has been a roller-coaster ride. The Blue Jays, Mariners, and Astros have all experienced highs and lows in September, with their respective playoff odds wildly fluctuating on any given day.Toronto has shown great resiliency, rebounding from a deflating four-game home sweep at the hands of the Rangers earlier this month. The Blue Jays' identity revolves around strong pitching and defense after several years of being an offense-first team. They could be a dark horse in the postseason if they can get there.The Mariners welcome the Astros to Seattle for a crucial three-game series beginning Monday. The outcome could be crucial to determining who ends up in the postseason.NL wild card Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty Team Record PCT GB Remaining Playoff odds Phillies 87-69 .558 +4.5 PIT (3) @NYM (3) 100% D-Backs 82-73 .529 +0.5 @NYY @CWS (3) HOU (3) 84.8% Cubs 82-74 .526 -- @ATL (3) @MIL (3) 56.7% Marlins 81-75 .519 1 @NYM (3) @PIT (3) 51.8% Reds 80-77 .510 2.5 @CLE (2) @STL (3) 6.7% The Phillies have nearly locked down the top wild-card spot. After last year's surprising World Series run, Philadelphia is probably the one team the contenders are hoping to avoid.The Cubs looked to be in the driver's seat for playoff positioning but dropped four consecutive series to throw their chances into serious peril. The Marlins are navigating life without reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, whose forearm issue ended his season. Prized rookie right-hander Eury P rez was also placed on the injured list, leaving the Marlins without arguably their two most impactful starters for the final push.NL MVP Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / GettyThis race has become at least something of a competition. For most of the season, it felt like the MVP award had Ronald Acu a Jr.'s name on it. However, the summer surge from Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts could give voters some pause. Player HR RBI SB OPS fWAR Acu a 40 101 68 1.010 7.8 Betts 39 105 13 1.000 8.2 Betts leads Acu a in fWAR, and the two are close in a number of other statistical categories. The Braves' deep and talented lineup could work against Acu a in the eyes of some voters, but MLB's first-ever 40-homer, 60-stolen base season will surely be more than enough to secure him his first career MVP.AL MVP Ronald Martinez / GettyDespite missing almost the entire last month of the campaign as a hitter and not appearing as a pitcher since late August, the AL MVP remains Shohei Ohtani's to lose. It would be a moderate surprise if he wasn't a unanimous choice to claim the honor for the second time in the last three seasons.NL Cy Young Denis Poroy / Getty Images Sport / GettyThis is one of the most wide-open races in recent memory. There are as many as five pitchers who could stake a claim at taking home the Cy Young.Padres left-hander Blake Snell appears to have the edge heading into the final week as he looks to become only the seventh pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young in both the AL and NL. Snell leads all NL starters in ERA and sits inside the top 10 in K/9 and fWAR.Braves hurler Spencer Strider has had a handful of blowup outings. Those rough starts have inflated his ERA, but he still boasts strong peripherals, strikeout numbers, and fWAR. He could present a compelling case for voters.Zac Gallen has been a mainstay for the Diamondbacks' rotation in 2023. He's set career highs in strikeouts, innings pitched, and fWAR. However, a 4.11 ERA since the All-Star break could be his biggest hurdle.Cubs left-hander Justin Steele could receive votes after an incredible run, but his recent struggles, which include allowing six runs over three innings in his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, will likely be too much to overcome.AL Cy Young Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport / GettyYankees ace Gerrit Cole has earned the unofficial title of MLB's best pitcher to never win a Cy Young. That seems very likely to change. Cole has enjoyed an incredible 2023 season despite New York's struggles as a team.The 33-year-old put an exclamation mark on his season by holding the Blue Jays to one run on two hits with nine strikeouts over eight sparkling innings in his final home start.Cole is inside the top five among AL pitchers in wins, strikeouts, and fWAR, and he leads in innings pitched and ERA. It's looking like a pretty safe bet that Cole will become the first Yankees pitcher to win the award since Roger Clemens in 2001.Minnesota Twins right-hander Sonny Gray has enjoyed the best season of his career and could finish runner-up to Cole in the voting. The Blue Jays' Kevin Gausman and Mariners' Luis Castillo are also likely to receive some votes. Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
Alcantara (elbow/forearm) acknowledged Saturday that he will not pitch again this year, Jordan McPherson and Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald report.
TODAY: Unsurprisingly, Alcantara confirmed today that he won’t pitch again in 2023. “That s the thing that broke my heart. I won t be able to go out there with my teammates and compete….Hopefully we make it to the playoffs without me. [I’ve] just gotta be here and support them,” Alcantara told Jordan McPherson and Andre C.…