Enjoy the undercard.
There is an abundance of intriguing storylines in baseball these days, and most of them will be like
But the only personalities, feats and maneuvers that will hold up into late October are those that relate to the
Some years you can see surprise teams coming, like last year's Giants and the 2007
The Brewers seem a good bet to win their first playoff series since 1982, but only if they finish ahead of the
While Verlander gives the
Confidence matters in October. Only three teams are really going to have it — the Rangers, who have a shot to get to the World Series in consecutive years, and the Phillies and Yankees, who pretty much have October figured out.
The Phillies (25-13), Yankees (16-8) and Rangers (8-8) have gone a combined 49-29 in the playoffs the last three years. Excluding head-to-head meetings, they have won 10 of 12 series. It will take consistently good pitching to bring their deep lineups down, and none of this year's staffs pose a threat like the Giants did a year ago.
Pitching is a huge edge for the Phillies. They took
The Yankees are counting on
Pitching coach Mike Maddux and a great group of advance scouts helped the Rangers' pitchers overperform a year ago, with
Don't bet against any of these teams this October, unless they're playing one of the other powers. This year, the surprises will end in September.
Rivera told the New York Post he was playing catch one day with former teammate
"The Good Lord knew that I needed something other than a regular fastball,'' Rivera said. "In '96, I was just throwing fastballs in the bullpen. The ball was just kind of rising. All of a sudden I became the closer and He gave me the cutter."
"For at least the beginning part of the winter, I need to get my feet under myself and get ready for next year," said Alvarez, who received a $6.3 million contract after being selected with the second pick overall in 2008. "If the situation presents itself that winter ball might be something later on, we'll tackle it then."
Washington isn't worried about sacrificing fielding. He expects Hamilton to be fine in center.
"He can be one of the best in the game when he plays out there," Washington said.