December 2, 2022

Justin Verlander doesn’t expect major changes to playoff format

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There’s a lot of gnashing of teeth around baseball as the Dodgers and Braves, a pair of 100-win National League division champions, were both eliminated in the NLDS after getting five days off between the end of the regular season and the start of their short playoff run. The Astros and Yankees – the top two teams in the American League – both advanced, although the Astros’ offense struggled at times and the Yankees needed five games to clear the Guardians.

All of that means there will be talk this offseason about changing the playoff format, though Astros ace Justin Verlander doesn’t think that will mean fewer teams making the playoffs.

“I don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Verlander said Tuesday, a day before the Astros face the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. “I don’t know if the league sees what’s going on and maybe wants to make adjustments. I don’t know what those adjustments would look like, but extending the playoffs brings in a lot of revenue, so I don’t think it’s going to roll back.

The biggest concern is the lengthy layoff given to the top two teams in each league, which disrupts batting timing. In the Astros’ three-game sweep against the Mariners, they hit .217 as a team, including an 0-for-16 streak for Jose Altuve.

“You take the best regular season teams, get them off the ground for five days, which we’re not used to, and then let the hot team keep playing,” Verlander said. “You play a three-game (wild card) series and then come out of that and go right in (into the Division series and) keep playing, and if you’re not ready, I think you can see how well you can easily lose this streak.

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