PHILADELPHIA — Commissioner Rob Manfred believes its too early to judge baseball’s new playoff format even after two division winners were swept this postseason and a third struggled offensively before being eliminated.
“It’s only Year 2,” Manfred said before Game 4 of the Philadelphia Phillies–Atlanta Braves NL Division Series on Thursday night. “I’m sort of the view you need to give something a chance to work out. I know some of the higher-seeded teams didn’t win. I think if you think about where some of those teams were, there are other explanations than a five-day layoff. But I think we’ll reevaluate in the offseason like we always do and think about if we have the format right.”
Beginning last year, the top two division winners in each league (based on overall record) earned byes into the division series, but only after a five-day layoff while the wild-card round played out.
Critics believe such a layoff is too long; the best teams become rusty before their playoff journey begins.
In 2022, the two top-seeded NL teams (Los Angeles Dodgers, Braves) lost in the division series; both AL teams (Houston Astros, New York Yankees), however, advanced. This year, the 101-win Baltimore Orioles were swept by the Texas Rangers in the division series, and the 100-win Dodgers had the same happen against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition, the 104-win Braves scored just eight runs in their series against the Phillies, which ended with a 3-1 Game 4 defeat. Atlanta led the majors in runs scored during the regular season.
“I don’t think we need five (days off), but we did need a few,” manager Brandon Hyde said after the Orioles were eliminated. “Whether that affected us this series or not, I’m not going to speculate. But it’s a long time off. That’s the bottom line.”
In both years, the Astros overcame any rust to advance to the ALCS, poking holes in the layoff-is-too-long theory.
Manfred was asked if he’s talked to the players association about changing the format.
“It’s one of those things where we would have a conversation about it if we wanted to do something,” he said. “But I think the most important point is the first one: It’s Year 2. I think we need to give it a little time…We all want the competition to be the best it can possibly be.”
Source : ESPN