Nine candidates to rebound in playoffs

The playoffs are a new season and that means a new beginning. Yes, the pressure increases and the competition improves, but it is also true that, in a sense, you start from scratch.

That new beginning is certainly better received by some than by others. These are those players who did not have the kind of regular season they wanted or expected.

With that in mind, here we present nine players on contending teams who could have a chance to rebound in October.

Brewers: Christian Yelich, LF

It has been two very disappointing seasons for Yelich. After being an MVP of the National League in 2018 and almost repeating in 2019 (combined OPS of 1.046), Yelich has had an OPS of .748 since then. He’s still a patient hitter, which has translated into solid on-base percentages, but the power he displayed in those early seasons in Milwaukee evaporated. Perhaps, given his back problems, that lack of strength is permanent. But Yelich continues to hit the ball hard, ranking in the 89th percentile for hitting rate, so if he manages to lift the ball, the potential for damage is still there.

White Sox: Craig Kimbrel, LR

Here we are going to focus on what Kimbrel has done in the White Sox, because it is difficult that he would have thrown better before arriving in the change from the Cubs: ERA of 0.49, OPS of the opponents of .336 and 23 saves in 25 opportunities. It was probably inevitable that he would suffer a slump as the months went by, but this is not what the White Sox expected when they got him to join Liam Hendriks. In 23 games in South Chicago, Kimbrel has a 5.32 ERA, .801 OPS against, three blown saves and two losses. The Bigfoot looked to him primarily for October, and what he does in the postseason will determine how the move will be remembered.

Giants: Tommy La Stella, 2B

The Giants signed him for three years and $ 18.75 million after two solid seasons in a row (.289 / .356 / .471) and he was expected to play a key role in the lineup, but a severe hamstring injury in May knocked him out. three months. La Stella’s numbers have not been good (.250 / .311 / .413), one of the few players who have produced below expectations in this revelation club in 2021. However, he has an OPS of .892 since 7 September and his stellar eyesight and contact skills could make him a key player in the playoffs.

Dodgers: Gavin Lux, INF / OF

We could have put Cody Bellinger here too, although the NL MVP in 2019 could be left out of the lineup even if he’s healthy enough when the postseason rolls around. Lux’s season has not been as disastrous as Bellinger’s, but the 23-year-old – a great prospect before last season – has also spent time on the disabled list and in Triple-A while still struggling to earn a position as a starter in the Big Top. On the other hand, the rally has already started. Since returning from the minors on Sept. 10 with a .643 OPS, Lux has put an OPS over 1,000 in 14 games, all while transitioning from the infield to the outfield.

Cardinals: Dakota Hudson, LA / LR

The right-hander was an effective reliever for St. Louis in 2018 and a successful starter in 2019-2020 (3.24 ERA in 213.2 innings) before undergoing Tommy John surgery late last September. That left Hudson off the stage for the Cardinals, until now. Hudson returned on September 24, pitching 3.2 innings as a reliever. It’s unclear what role Hudson could play in October, but having him back – alongside Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas – is great news for St. Louis.

Braves: Travis d’Arnaud, C

It’s been a bad season at bat for Atlanta’s receivers, with the group ranking 29th in MLB at wRC +. That’s mainly because d’Arnaud got off to a terrible start and then missed more than three months with a thumb injury. However, d’Arnaud has played much better since Aug. 11 (.758 OPS), providing stability behind the plate and adding more depth to the lineup of a Braves trying to secure their move into October.

Yankees: DJ LeMahieu, INF

LaMahieu is certainly not the only Yankee to have had a disappointing 2021, but his slump has been the strongest, after back-to-back seasons winning Silver Bates and finishing in the top four in MVP voting. Instead, LeMahieu has looked more like the average hitter he has been for the previous four seasons. On the other hand, Yankee legends are forged in October. LeMahieu continues to make consistent contact, strong contact, and a great month at the right time could inscribe his name among the greats on the team. If the Yankees qualify, sure.

Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez, LA

It has been fantastic to see Venezuelan Rodríguez healthy and back on the mound in 2021, considering he missed 2020 due to a case of myocarditis after becoming infected with COVID-19. But the results, at least the most visible ones, have not been according to the standards of the southpaw (4.93 ERA). That said, E-Rod has a 3.35 FIP and an expected ERA of 3.64 – two stats based on quality of contact, strikeouts and walks – that are the best of his careers, suggesting that he has thrown much better than it seems. Perhaps in October things will level off, presuming that Boston is one of the participants.

Nola received Cy Young Award votes in two of the last three seasons and went into 2021 with a 3.23 ERA in 106 starts since 2017. In 2021, his ERA is 4.64, including 5.50 in 17 starts after 19th of June. That’s not the only reason the Phillies are in such a difficult situation, but it certainly hasn’t helped. That said, Nola still looks like the same pitcher when looking at his peripheral numbers. His expected 3.38 ERA, according to Statcast, is nearly identical to the mark he set in 2020. If the Phillies make it into October, Nola would be a great candidate to rebound in his postseason debut.