Major League Baseball playoffs are finally here, after a long 162 game season has come and gone. With eight teams ready to fight it out in hopes of winning a World Series, players will need to rise above the others to make themselves champions. Here are the most important players in this year’s Major League Baseball playoffs.
5. Jake Arrieta
Proving just how valuable he was during the Chicago Cubs’ Wild Card win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jake Arrieta has established himself as a vital part of his team’s success. In the National League Division Series, Arrieta will have to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that boasts the sport’s best record. Arrieta will need to be great to avoid elimination in the Cubs’ next playoff series.
To do so, he will need to continue getting ahead of counts and make batters chase his breaking pitches when in advantageous pitching situations. He is more than capable of doing so, but will need to prove it on the biggest stage of his career.
4. Dallas Keuchel
Dallas Keuchel’s situation is similar to Arrieta’s, in that he is young and will need to prove himself on a bigger stage than he’s used to. But the 21 game winner in 2015 is pitching at his best at the perfect time, and takes on a conservatively managed Kansas City Royals team that will sacrifice outs with bunts, which will help Astros pitchers in the American League Division Series. Look for Keuchel to continue pitching on short rest to help his team.
3. Troy Tulowitzki
After suffering a broken bone in his shoulder, Troy Tulowitzki’s status for the Toronto Blue Jays’ Division Series matchup with the Texas Rangers was uncertain. But it is clear that Tulowitzki will play in the postseason, and will need to play well to keep Toronto’s championship hopes alive. Given their great results since acquiring Tulowitzki, they will need to hope he is able to perform to keep that momentum rolling.
2. Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig is a bit of a lightning rod among baseball fans and pundits, and his presence on this list is based on just how polarizing he is. Despite dealing with a hamstring injury, Puig will be a part of the Dodgers’ playoff roster, and will need to contribute right away due to other injuries in the Dodgers’ outfield. Puig’s lack of consistent play and tendency to make mistakes makes him a wild card for the Dodgers, and how well he plays against the New York Mets will be one of the most important things to watch in the Division Series round.
1. Matt Harvey
With an innings limit on the minds of Matt Harvey and his agent Scott Boras, just how hard Harvey is willing to play for the Mets will go a long way toward determining how much success the team has against the Dodgers in the Division Series. Even though the Mets have a great pitching staff without Harvey, having three great starters can win them the best-of-five against the Dodgers easily.
By: Jason M. Sanin