1 reason every team in '22 postseason can win it all

October 7th, 2022

If you’ve made it to the postseason, you can win the World Series. For the fanbases of the 12 teams that have made it this far, it’s time to dream. We asked the beat reporters for each of the playoff teams to provide one reason why the club they cover can win it all. Here is what they said. Teams are listed alphabetically by league.


ASTROS: Experience and pitching

There are a lot of reasons to think the Astros can win their first World Series title since 2017, including a wealth of postseason experience. The Astros have played 79 playoff games since the start of the 2015, which is twice as many as any other team not named the Dodgers, who have played in 82 in that span. The Astros have also played in five consecutive AL Championship Series and won three pennants. Jose Altuve has played in all 79 of those postseason games, with Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman appearing in 73 games each. Even Martín Maldonado (43 games), Kyle Tucker (38) and Yordan Alvarez (34) have extensive postseason experience. The Astros also boast the deepest rotation in the AL with six quality starters, led by Cy Young Award candidates Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. A couple of other starters could move to the bullpen, which already has the best ERA in the Major Leagues. -- Brian McTaggart

BLUE JAYS: Peak potential

The Blue Jays’ inconsistencies have been frustrating this season, but their peaks are worthy of a World Series run. With Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman leading the rotation, this Blue Jays lineup is capable of incredible offensive outbursts when everything clicks at the right time. That’s been stifled at times in 2022 by poor situational hitting, but the Blue Jays looked like a much more complete offense down the stretch. Between Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette and a number of other names in this lineup each night, a hot streak at the right time could make the Blue Jays very difficult to stop. -- Keegan Matheson


Can it be this simple of an answer? That’s the approach the Guardians have taken to the regular season, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t view a potential postseason run the same way. This team was supposed to suffer from a rocky rebuilding phase this year. Instead, although the club is absolutely rebuilding, it’s found a way to defy baseball’s usual boom-or-bust approach and use a scrappy and gritty style to eclipse 90 wins this season. Cleveland can rely on putting pressure on opposing defenses, going first to third on any base hit and playing small ball to continue to sneak past opponents who may doubt them. Backed by a strong rotation and an elite bullpen, the youngest team in the Majors can lean on its relaxed style of play to combat the high intensity of the postseason and rack up wins. -- Mandy Bell

MARINERS: A roster built for the postseason

The Mariners make up for a lack of star power offensively with a lineup that wears starting pitchers down with patience and sound pitch selection. When healthy, they have the necessary power to literally swing momentum with one swing, especially when Julio Rodríguez, Eugenio Suárez and Mitch Haniger are all clicking. But Seattle’s best attribute is its pitching staff, from top to bottom, with a rotation anchored by swing-and-miss workhorses Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray, complemented by two high-velocity youngsters, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert. And when they do turn it over to the bullpen, their relief corps has been one of MLB’s best. Pitching plays more than anything in the postseason, and the Mariners have the staff that could catapult them into a deep run. -- Daniel Kramer

RAYS: A familiar formula

Remember the Rays’ run to the 2020 World Series? They had a few front-line starters plus a dominant and dynamic bullpen, and a red-hot Randy Arozarena carried the lineup as far as he could. This year’s version of the Rays has a chance to repeat that formula. They have high-end starting pitchers in Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs, not to mention Corey Kluber. Injuries have thinned their bullpen, but it’s a talented group with Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks at the back end. The question is whether they’ll hit enough, but if Yandy Díaz gets on base and Wander Franco gets hot at the same time as Arozarena, they’ll be dangerous. -- Adam Berry

YANKEES: Pitching, power and a little magic

So much attention has been paid to Aaron Judge and his pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season AL home run record, but there’s more happening in the Bronx. The Yankees were baseball’s best team through the first portion of the season, generating pace comparisons to the stacked 114-win Bombers club from 1998, enjoying their place as the first club in the Majors to reach the 50-victory plateau. That cooled with a mediocre July and an awful August, but they seem to have righted the ship heading into the postseason. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the recipe for October success is to pitch, “hit the ball in the seats” and “find a little magic.” They’re capable of doing all three. -- Bryan Hoch


BRAVES: Better than the champs

This Braves team is better than the one that won last year’s World Series, especially if Spencer Strider’s left oblique doesn’t prove to be a lingering issue. Cy Young Award candidate Max Fried, 21-game winner Kyle Wright and Strider front a rotation that would be rounded out by Charlie Morton, who has been one of the game’s best postseason starters going back to 2017. The deep rotation is supported by a deep lineup, which includes eight guys who have hit at least 15 homers this year. If Kenley Jansen extends his late-September success, this bullpen could be as impressive as the one Atlanta fans fondly recognized as The Night Shift last year. -- Mark Bowman

CARDINALS: Experience and pitching

The Cardinals can win it all because they have the perfect mix of experience and youth, a deep pitching staff, and a lights-out closer. Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright have combined for six World Series rings and nine appearances in the Fall Classic. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, two of the top MVP candidates in the NL, are both hungry to get there for the first time, and key rookies Brendan Donovan, Juan Yepez and Andre Pallante won’t be overwhelmed if they do reach it. With the re-emergence of Jack Flaherty and José Quintana, the Cardinals have five starters they could confidently start in a big game. And in Ryan Helsley, they have a closer who has set the “fastest pitch of the MLB season” mark three times. Most recently: 104.2 mph in a save in Milwaukee. -- John Denton

DODGERS: Star power

Because they have Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith in the lineup. Betts, Turner and Freeman have put together impressive seasons, forming the best trio in the Majors. Smith gets overlooked a bit because of the names ahead of him, but he has established himself as one of the best, if not the best, hitting catchers in the National League. Throw in the likes of Max Muncy and Justin Turner and you’re talking about one of the best and deepest lineups in Major League history. -- Juan Toribio

METS: Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer

It really is that simple. The Mets are paying those two $78.8 million to anchor their rotation for a reason. They’re two of the best pitchers in baseball, perhaps the two best. If deGrom and Scherzer can hold up their end of the bargain and mow down teams in the postseason, there won’t be much room for the Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals or other contenders to maneuver. If that happens, the quibbles about New York’s power production or bullpen depth will quickly vanish as the Mets make a deep October run. -- Anthony DiComo

PADRES: Pitching depth and superstar sluggers

Excellent starting pitching. Excellent pitching depth. And two of the game’s premier superstars on offense. If the Padres are going to win the World Series, they’re going to ride their rotation -- and it’s not a bad plan when you can line up Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and Mike Clevinger. The bullpen’s ceiling is sky-high, too, now that Josh Hader has regained his mojo. The biggest question marks on this team come on offense. It’s not a particularly deep lineup. But Manny Machado has been MVP-caliber this season, and Juan Soto -- despite some of his struggles since arriving in San Diego -- has a track record of coming up big in October. -- AJ Cassavell

PHILLIES: Two aces and big boppers

Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and a dangerous lineup. Before the Phillies hit a late-season skid to put their postseason hopes in doubt, the Phillies played like one of the best teams for months. From the time Rob Thomson replaced Joe Girardi on June 3 through Sept. 14, the Phillies were 58-33 (.637). It was the fourth-best record in baseball in that stretch behind the Dodgers, Braves and Astros. Wheeler and Nola are a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation, and any lineup with Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hosksins and J.T. Realmuto can score runs in bunches. Let’s put it this way: nobody is going to pick the Phillies to win the World Series, but they have the talent to surprise some people with a deep run into October.-- Todd Zolecki