WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Here is a summation on Max Scherzer’s thoughts about the proposed playoff format changes: No.
Is he willing to talk about it? Yes. Does his voice matter as a member of the MLBPA executive board? Yes. Would he consider alterations in the future? Yes.
However, the idea of adding teams to the postseason -- expanding the total number of entrants to 14 which would be almost half the league -- is not something which appeals to Scherzer at this point.
“For me, it’s really hard to sit there and say our playoffs are broken,” Scherzer told NBC Sports Washington. “When we look at how we won the World Series, we made it as a wild-card team and we won the World Series, we’ve also seen the best team in baseball go out there and win the World Series as well. To me, as we sit here today, the playoffs are functioning as they should because the second wild-card spot and the teams behind it are typically only a few games behind, so really adding those teams, those teams should already be in the hunt and finding a way to make the playoffs already.”
If the proposal was law last season, here’s how the National League playoffs would have looked (number of wins in parentheses):
Atlanta Braves (97)
St. Louis Cardinals (91)
Los Angeles Dodgers (106)
New York (86)
The 84-win Cubs would have finished a game out of the final wild-card spot.
The Dodgers would receive a first-round bye. The Braves would get to choose their opponent from the bottom three wild-card teams (Presumably, it would be Arizona in order to avoid Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg or Jacob deGrom in a one-game playoff). So, the 97-win Braves would be playing the 85-win Diamondbacks for the chance to advance. If the Diamondbacks know they have the same shot as a 97-win team, what’s to prompt their investment in the offseason or trade deadline?
“When you start talking about increasing the teams that make the playoffs, I have a huge concern over the competition that resides in the regular season,” Scherzer said. “In this format that is proposed, really the team that finishes in second place is really in the same field as the team that finishes in seventh place. We’ve seen trades in the past where good teams have unloaded players for a number of reasons and maybe not necessarily put the best product on the field, and they don’t feel they would have to compete as strongly if there is a very, very strong team in the league.
“So, there’s significant concerns for me moving forward with their proposal. Something I think we can work through, something we can talk about. But I think there’s other issues at play with our system, with the CBA and the way the economic structure of the game is working that I think are more pertinent issues we need to address as a whole to increase competition throughout the game. Without addressing those concerns, I think it’s pointless to start talking about the playoffs.”
Those concerns are?
“Those are concerns that will be addressed when the time is right in the CBA talks,” Scherzer said. “Those talks will [begin] after [the] 2021 [season]. I look forward to having those talks. We need to have those talks about what the game needs to look like going forward, how teams can compete -- small-market teams, large-market teams and what the game needs to move to as we continue to see how fans experience the game.”
But, for now, it’s a no on the playoff expansion.
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