Why they’re here: This might be a bit high for the Mariners, but the core of this team is good enough to win a World Series — Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, James Paxton, Kyle Seager, Jean Segura and Edwin Diaz. And this group has been playing good baseball since a sluggish start to the season. Since falling to a season-worst eight games below .500 on May 27, the Mariners have 33 wins; only the Dodgers (44), Astros (35) and Royals (34) have more.
Dave Taylor Kids Jersey Why they’re here: The lineup is dynamic, led by Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. And the trade additions of Pat Neshek and Jonathan Lucroy were smart moves, but it really feels like this team needed to add at least one starter with some type of postseason experience to the rotation. The young starters in that rotation will be very good contributors for the Rockies for years.
Smith gives the Indians their third strikeout-oriented reliever. Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are two of the best relievers in MLB, so Smith will likely see most of his action in the seventh inning along with right-hander Bryan Shaw. With a rotation starting to find its way, and an elite bullpen, the Indians are in position to make noise in the postseason once again.
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Allen added that Francona provides the clubhouse with a stabilizing sense of confidence, whether they’re on a prolonged winning streak or a losing skid.
The dominance of Cleveland’s bullpen is an extension of that confidence.
Miller said Francona was a key reason behind the bullpen’s success last postseason, as he made clear the possibility of interchangeable roles and helped the staff buy into the idea. That approach and success has carried into this season, as the Indians’ bullpen has strung together the sixth-highest relief pitching fWAR (5.0).