Despite the KC Royals just missing the postseason, fans can still watch the MLB playoffs and root for their favorite former Royals.
The playoffs are already underway, as the one game Wild Cards finished up last night. The National League Wild Card game was Tuesday night, as NL Central foes Cincinnati and Pittsburgh met at PNC Park, home of the Pirates (a team the Royals hope to be in 2014). The Pirates had just swept the Reds in Cincinnati over the weekend and rolled right over them again Tuesday night with a rocking sellout crowd.
On the Reds playoff roster was former Royal outfielder Derrick Robinson, who made his big league debut on April 5th. He did not appear in the game.
The Pirates carried two former Royals who have seen better days since leaving Kansas City. Reliever Vin Mazzaro did not appear in the game, but was a big reason why the Pirates are in the postseason (8-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 57 games). Catcher John Buck was acquired by the Pirates from the NY Mets with outfielder Marlon Byrd (who hit a home run in his first postseason at-bat) to bolster their offense. He also did not play.
The Pirates begin their Division Series in Pittsburgh in less than an hour.
On Wednesday night was the American League Wild Card game, as Cleveland hosted TB. The Indians could not continue their regular season winning streak (ten in a row) in front of their first sellout crowd. They lost 4-0 and former Royal Mike Aviles did not play.
The Rays had to defeat Texas in Game 163 on Monday night just to make the playoffs. Four former Royals were integral parts to the Rays advancement in the postseason.
Reliever Jamey Wright seemed to pitch just about every day (66 games), well at least he warmed up in the bullpen every day. However he did not pitch last night. When he does, it will be his first ever postseason appearance. Fellow reliever Joel Peralta has been the setup man and appeared in 80 games during the regular season. He struggled to finish the season, but manager Joe Maddon still went to him last night. With two outs in the seventh, he blew away Nick Swisher. He then finished off the Indians in the eighth to pick up a hold (he threw just 16 pitches).
Rookie of the Year candidate Wil Myers led the Rays in many offensive categories since his callup. He looked over-matched in the Wild Card game and was taken out for defense in the eighth. Hopefully he can get on track.
Fellow outfielder David DeJesus is on his third team this season, but has finally reached the postseason. He came off the bench in Game 163 with a huge hit and started his first ever postseason game last night (0-for-4).
The Rays continue their crazy long road trip on Friday night in the AL Division Series against AL East foe Boston.
The NL Division Series’ start today and I already mentioned the Pirates and how they play St. Louis. The Cardinals have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and will be sending former Royal Carlos Beltran out to right field and bat second in their potent lineup. After leaving the Royals, Beltran has become one of the greatest postseason hitters and Cardinals fans are hoping he continues that greatness.
Division winners LA and Atlanta meet at Turner Field tonight. The Braves made an interesting roster move, leaving off their highest paid player (Dan Uggla) for Elliot Johnson, who has been great since Atlanta claimed him off waivers (.261 with ten RBIs and eight stolen bases in 32 games).
The Dodgers have three former Royals on their playoff roster. Former CY Young award winner Zack Greinke will start Game 2 in Atlanta after a solid season. Second baseman Mark Ellis has been a stalwart in the Dodgers lineup, as he hit .270. Lefty JP Howell is back in the postseason (he was in the World Series in 2008 with the Rays), as he helps the Dodgers from the bullpen (a 2.03 ERA in 67 games). Left-handed hitters hit just .164 against him this season.
The AL Division Series’ start on Friday and I already talked about the Rays heading to Boston. Outfielder Quintin Berry is expected to get some pinch-running duties or may be a defensive replacement late in games. He was traded late in the season from Omaha to Pawtucket and played some games in September for the Red Sox.
In the series of division winners, Detroit travels to Oakland (it seems like they always play in the postseason). Catcher Brayan Pena is the Tigers backup and had a solid season when starter Alex Avila battled concussions (.297 with 22 RBIs in 71 games).
For the A’s, right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez made the roster with right-handed hitting opponents hitting just .212 against him during the regular season.
Which former Royal will you be rooting for? Let me know!