As the MLB season winds down it is time to find out which teams are prepared for a playoff push or just to get pushed. There are five teams on the outside of the National League playoffs that will need contributions from players that can give them that push. Who are they?
St. Louis Cardinals- Paul DeJong
The St. Louis Cardinals have lacked a power bat in their lineup since the departure of Albert Pujols. Marcell Ozuna was supposed to be that player but has not shown the power of his previous season in Miami. DeJong’s productions can be a huge contribution to a St. Louis order that tends to struggle to put runs on the board. During the month of August his contributions have been minimal despite the Cardinals beginning to show life winning nine straight games at one point.
As the Cardinals continue to fight their way to a potential wildcard they will need the productions from one of their most powerful forces in the lineup. Being a player that put his name on the map in 2017 with a ridiculous .333 ISO he has the potential to make a serious impact in the middle of the St. Louis order. If he can’t pickup the power statistics St. Louis will have a problem scoring runs down the stretch, especially if MVP candidate eventually comes back down to earth.
Milwaukee Brewers- Cory Knebel
The Milwaukee Brewers added a lot of power during the trade deadline. They didn’t however address one of the needs many thought they would, their starting rotation. Instead the Brewers will look to get what they can from the rotation and have their strong bullpen figure out the backend. All-Stars Josh Hader and the reborn Jeremy Jefferess have done their part to keep the Brewers in the race.
2017 breakout Corey Knebel has not found his form during the second half of the season. He currently holds a second half ERA of 6.75 and has become a liability on the mound. Knebel has not only had issues with walks but players are have been hitting him hard with a hard hit percentage 11% higher then 2017. For the Brewers to find their way into the playoffs they will have to rely on their bullpen for 3+ inning most nights. Knebel returning to his All Star form is the key to their success.
Colorado Rockies- Wade Davis
Positive, Wade Davis has 35 saves in 2018. Negative, Wade Davis has a 4.99ERA. The biggest off season signing for the Rockies has had an up and down first season with Colorado but his playoff experience is going to be huge for the young club over the final few weeks of the season.
Davis has seemed to find his way over his last five appearances picking up 3 saves and not giving up a single run in that span. Those appearances brought his August ERA down to 9.82. He has to build off of those games as the Rockies have little to no room for late inning blow ups down the stretch. Davis and the other Rockies bullpen arms have to hold on to leads in order to make them a real threat in the both the wild card and the division hunt.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Walker Buehler
With the lose of Kenley Jansen for an unknown amount of time the Dodgers will have need someone to step up at the backend of the bullpen. They will also need their starters to step up for more innings down the stretch. With four veterans Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood in the rotation the one guy that will need to give them a little more length is star prospect Walker Buehler.
Over his last three August starts Buehler has shown the promise that Dodgers brass have banked on coming into the season going 2-0 with a 1.47ERA. He has also given six innings per start which is all you can ask of a young pitcher down the stretch. If Buehler can continue to produce solid outings the Dodgers could be in a great spot to overtake the unproven Arizona Diamondbacks in the West.
Philadelphia Phillies- Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana was a surprise offseason signing from the young and thought to be rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies. His defense and power seemed like a perfect fit for a time on the rise in the NL East. To the surprise of many in the baseball world the Phillies have been in the thick of the race the entire season.
Santana will have to be the force in the order that the fighting Phils thought they had signed in order to make the playoff push. With Rhys Hoskins taking on the role of offensive leader, it will be up to Santana to produce enough to force pitchers to throw to Hoskins or pay the consequences. While Santana has provided some power with 18 homers on the season, the Phillies need to have more consistency day to day. A .218 average from your four hole hitter will not scare teams enough to pitch to the hotter bats in the lineup. If Santana can’t find a way to produce the lineup depth for the Phillies ends very quickly.