Welcome to the offseason. For new readers, the MLB Roundup is a (mostly) daily feature through the offseason covering the news around the league and trying to connect it back to the Red Sox where possible. There will be days in which there is no real news, but for the most part we’ll be with you every morning at 8:00 AM ET.
The playoff field is set
When Sunday’s action got underway, there was a chance we’d get some Monday baseball to settle the last spot in the National League race, but that didn’t end up happening. The Cardinals took care of business and got a win over the Brewers. Milwaukee ended up making it in anyway, with neither the Phillies nor the Giants being able to take care of business and sneak their way in. The Brewers make this 16-team field now having spent fewer days over .500 (zero) than the Red Sox. Cool system!
Anyway, here’s the Wildcard Round matchups, which will be a best-of-three series with all games being played at the home park of the higher seed:
(2) Athletics vs. (7) White Sox
(1) Dodgers vs. (8) Brewers
(4) Padres vs. (5) Cardinals
We’ll have more Tuesday and Wednesday on all of these teams and who we should (and shouldn’t) be rooting for, but there are some interesting matchups here. Tuesday is going to feature a Shane Bieber versus Gerrit Cole game, which is going to rule. That Indians-Yankees series is probably the best of this slate, but since it’s a best-of-three anything can happen in any of these matchups.
The AL slate kicks off on Tuesday with the first game, Twins-Astros, starting at 2:00 PM ET. All four AL series start on Tuesday, while the NL side starts on Wednesday. That Wednesday slate is going to feature a whopping eight games.
Billy Epler fired as Angels GM
The Red Sox were in the conversation for most disappointing clubs in 2020, but the Angels weren’t too far behind. Just like Boston, L.A. had a good offense but their pitching was a disaster. What makes the Angels off year even worse is that it means we have another season with the best player on the planet (Mike Trout) sitting at home for the playoffs. With the expanded field and the talent on the Angels roster, that seemed impossible.
Now, the guy who built said roster and signed Trout to the massive extension that will keep him with the Angels for a long, long time is heading out the door. The Angels fired Billy Eppler on Sunday. It’s a move that makes sense, and they need to bring somebody in who is ready to take care of this pitching staff and get Trout into a real position to win. Say what you want about his decision to sign long-term with the Angels, but it’s malpractice that this organization has not been able to make it to October.
Red Sox Spin
This move didn’t come as a surprise to many, and there have been possible replacements thrown out for a while now. One of them is former Astros GM Jeff Lunhow, which, please no. But another was old friend Dave Dombrowski. There’s not much of a farm system for him to work his trading magic — and I say that with zero percent sarcarm; his trading track record is tremendous — but this is a team that needs to win and win now. Dombrowski gets that done wherever he goes. It’s a match that would make sense as long as their ownership let him do what he does.