The team with the most regular season wins (Dodgers 111) was just eliminated by a team (Padres 89) which won 22 fewer games. To put that in perspective the Royals won 65 games which is 24 games less than the Padres - essentially the same gap in wins.
This happens because playoff baseball is different than regular season baseball.
Take a look at which teams are advancing and which are going home wondering what happened.
- Dodgers 111 wins
- Atlanta 101 wins
- Mets 101 wins
- *Yankees 99 wins (down 2-1 right now)
- St. Louis 93 wins
- Toronto 92 wins
- Seattle 90 wins
- Tampa Bay 86 wins
- Houston 106 wins
- *Cleveland 92 wins (up 2-1 right now)
- San Diego 89 wins
- Philadelphia 87 wins
Regular season wins don't punch your ticket to the championship round.
To make the playoffs, a team has to have good pitching - that is a given.
Good pitching generally beats good hitting, which can be seen in lower scores in the playoffs.
But do starters or relievers have a bigger impact on winning in the playoffs?
Looking closer at the Dodgers-Padres series, you can see what I believe is the blueprint for building a winning playoff team.
Starters don't need to be studs - they are not in the game when it is being decided in the last three to four innings.
The bullpen decided this series (keep in mind the offensive production LAD had during the regular season).
- SD had 16 innings of relief giving up one run.
- LAD had 16.2 innings of relief giving up eight runs.
San Diego vs Dodgers
Innings by starter
SD 2.2, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0
LAD 5.0, 5.0, 1.1, 5.0
Game1 - LAD won 5-3
all runs scored against starters
SD got 5.1 innings of no-hit/no-run relief
LAD got 4 innings of no-run relief
Game2 - SD won 5-3
Both starters lasted 5 innings with scored tied 3-3
SD got 4 innings of no-run relief
LAD had 4 innings of relief that gave up 2 runs
Game3 - SD won 2-1
SD got 3.2 innings of 1-hit/no-run relief
LAD pulled starter after 1.1, relievers had 6.2 innings of 1-run
Game4 - SD won 5-3
SD got 3 innings of 1-hit/1-run relief
LAD started with 6 innings of no-runs
LAD relief gave 5-runs over 2 innings
Teams with a great (and healthy) bullpen and decent starters have the best chance of winning a series.
Just like in 2015